Hot property

22 May, 17

Are steaming and boiling water taps set to become a mainstream sale? Philippa Turrell poses the question

Once a product destined only for the most luxurious developments and fanciful refurbishments, the steaming and boiling water tap is now fast-becoming a must-have for the home. So much so, that according to Houzz’s 2015 UK Kitchen Trends Survey, it topped the list of desired kitchen gadgets. Marketing manager of Europe and Russia for InSinkErator Denise Iordache continues “24% of respondents installed a steaming hot water tap in their kitchen in the last 12 months or plan to install a steaming hot water tap in their kitchen in the next three months.” And these findings are backed up by manufacturers own sales figures. Sales and marketing director of Reginox Dave Mayer explains: “Speaking from a Reginox point of view, hot tap sales have grown consistently over the past few years and have more than doubled during the past two years. Boiling hot and 3 in 1 taps currently account for around 20% of Reginox’s total tap sales and this is increasing monthly.”

Enhanced exposure

Heighted consumer exposure, whether through media or showroom displays, has helped generate sales for the steaming and boiling water tap. Certainly that’s the view of kitchen experts, as managing director of Caple Danny Lay comments: “Hot water taps are increasingly being seen on high-profile cooking shows, which add to their desirability.” And managing director of Quooker Stephen Johnson agrees, believing it is his company that has been instrumental in driving the market: “We would like to think it is our investment in consumer marketing and the placement of Quooker boiling water taps in programmes such as MasterChef, Bake Off, Saturday Kitchen, Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces exposing the concept to millions of consumers every week.” However, he also believes, despite the uplift in steaming and boiling water tap sales, manufacturers should do much more to promote the sector. Johnson states: “Consumer facing marketing has not increased proportionally and the evidence suggests it is only ourselves who are investing significantly in this activity. We do feel the market has potential to grow further, however it will require consumer marketing investment by other brands.”

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Filtering downmarket

Certainly the interest already raised in the steaming and boiling tap sector has seen a proliferation of brands and models entering the market. And these are now flooding from the premium into the mid-market sector. Zip has introduced an entry level version of its HydroTap, while Reginox has just introduced Presto which is aimed at the mid-market consumer. Abode is also set to add to its Pronteau 4 in 1 family of steaming hot water taps with a Pronteau 3 in 1 model. Marketing manager of Abode Helen Clark explains: “It now allows for the inclusion of one within a home to be open to a much wider audience than ever before.” This increased awareness and desirability for consumers, together with greater accessibility means “Retailers are pushing on open doors to sell them”, says Carron Phoenix’s communications manager Jeanette Ward, continuing “whether it’s as part of a new kitchen sale or a retrofit option, the spectrum of brands, models and price points is fuelling strong growth in this sector”.

Three ways

But with such a wide variety of models now available on the marketplace, what type of steaming and boiling water taps should designers and specifiers focus upon to maximise sales. There seems to be one answer when asked what is the most popular model – the three in one model – providing hot, cold and steaming or boiling water. It not only eliminates the need for multiple taps in the kitchen but can also be retrofitted for an instant upgraded replacement.

Dave Mayer of Reginox comments: “At Reginox our most popular hot water tap is the R3N1” and there are similar findings across the board with Ron Blount of newcomer Hotspot stating: “Our Alessio model is currently the most successful and fastest-growing. With an electronic touch control, access to the boiling water on this 3-in-1 combination model is also at the touch of a button.”

In fact, so important is the 3-in-1 sector, AEG introduced the Prosource instant hot water tap, which is a 3-in-1 model and CDA has launched the TH100C, a three-in-one instant hot tap. Not to mention InSinkErator has expanded its offer with the 3N1 J-Shape tap adding to its 3N1 L-Shape tap, as part of its Showroom Collection. Denise Iordache points out: “As this all-in-one market trend has matured, consumer need for accessibility has developed and the InSinkErator 3N1 steaming hot water tap is designed to cater to this demand.”

Boiling point

But a greater choice in the market also leads to the potential of complexity for the customer when making a purchasing decision. First of all, there needs to be a distinction between boiling and steaming water taps says Stephen Johnson: “We have seen a serious increase in the amount of companies offering a hot tap as part of their portfolio. Gladly nearly all of these do not deliver at the required 100°C. However, this does cause mass confusion in the consumer’s mind as they all seem to promote themselves as boiling.” And marketing director at Franke Fiona Bowyer agrees: “If a customer is looking for a true boiling water tap a key point is that there are only a few brands with taps that deliver at 100°C at the point of delivery, as opposed to steaming hot water.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Johnson states: “We would say the critical thing is that the tap should deliver water at a true 100°C boiling water with maximum safety.” However, it could be argued the most important factor is the consumer understands whether they are purchasing a boiling or steaming water tap.

Safety first

Safety is of primary concern for all industry experts as Ron Blout advises designers and specifiers to consider child safety features as standard and a 5-year warranty option at no premium. While, sales director at Perrin & Rowe David Cole comments: “Look for safety features such as anti-scald locks, spring back valves with no run-off that will result in spit free operation, which is important when working with hot water.” In fact, Grohe recently relaunched its hot water system at ISH, with a redesigned Grohe Red available on the market later this year. Grohe UK product manager Michael Gray comments: “It incorporates a child lock for complete peace of mind and uses Grohe CoolTouch technology to ensure the spout of the tap remains cool to the touch. The Grohe Red is also the only system of its kind to feature a ‘holiday mode’.”

Encouraging trade-up

In addition, industry experts also suggest designers and specifiers explain the differences between tank sizes, quality of filtration and ease of maintenance when selecting the appropriate tap for their clients. Michael Gray of Grohe continues: “Opt for a tap with a combined filtration system, so that residents in hard water areas will no longer see limescale deposits in their tea.” He adds: “Some brands offer hot water taps with varying boiler sizes, ensuring demand can be met for all users.” And Fiona Bowyer agrees: “Some will have larger water tanks, include limescale filters or have longer warranties. So there are many differentiating factors that retailers and consumers should be aware of.” And to encourage consumers to trade up Bowyer insists: “It’s important to understand the key differences in terms of design, materials, functionality and after-sales service at the different price points.” She also points to greater functionality to secure a higher-priced steaming or boiling hot water tap sale and suggests 4-in-1 models, which have the added benefit of filtered water.”

Different designs

While functionality is without doubt key to high performance kitchen gadgetry, design has also started to play its part in differentiation. Denise Iordache claims: “Design, colour and function are the main factors that distinguish premium products from those at entry level.” And David Cole of Perrin & Rowe adds: “Look for a supplier that is available to provide a range of different styles and customisation options for something truly unique as well as functional.” Certainly there has been a wide array of finishes recently coming on to the market and Iordache points to her company’s 3N1 L-Shape steaming hot water tap which is offered in a variety of finishes including Anthracite, Brushed Steel, Chrome, Satin Black and the most recent introduction of Brushed Gold.” Zip also introduced its HydroTap and Celsius HydroTap in an eight-strong collection called Premium Design spanning gold, rose gold, through to gunmetal and brushed nickel. However, Fiona Bowyer argues: “There’s a current trend towards different material finishes and our take on that is to offer solid stainless steel options because, in design terms, this is the material that speaks the language of premium quality, precision manufacture and high status.”

Whatever the future developments in the steaming and boiling water taps, with Quooker set to unveil a new product in June, the market is only likely to grow. But how quickly and how large it will become, Johnson claims depends on his competitors: “I hope my growing list of competitors will dig deep and invest some money into consumer-driven marketing, which should help to grow the market from 100,000 to 250,000 in the next 5-10 years. This will mutually benefit us all.”