Instant hot water taps were popular well before the pandemic but it has seen awareness and sales grow faster, as consumers have become more educated about the benefits and differences
Steaming water tap sales were on the rise well before the COVID pandemic, however few would argue it has spurred awareness and sales growth.
As kitchens transformed into home offices and classrooms, consumers working from home realised the value of the instant hot water tap for convenience and added hygiene when cleaning.
Managing director of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson points out: “Whilst there are many benefits to working from home, the irritation of having to wait four minutes for a noisy kettle to boil or its energy-guzzling nature, has highlighted just how inefficient and inconvenient a kettle is.
“Couple that with the safety issue surrounding kettles and ease of burning, especially for families with young children or those with restricted mobility, it is unsurprising we are experiencing a consumer shift to boiling water taps.
In fact, such has been the shift in sales, Quooker has reported 50% growth year on year. And the growth has also been witnessed by Abode, as its marketing manager Leanne Adamson offers some statistics on the recent growth of hot water tap sales: “Comparing 2020 sales with the same period in 2019, Abode hot water tap sales were up by 13%.”
Explaining how this compares with traditional kitchen mixer tap sales, she points out: “There has been a 26% increase in sales of instant hot water taps over standard taps.”
Industry experts also believe this demand will carry through into 2021, as sales and marketing director at Franke Jo Rawstron comments: “We experienced a strong sales increase over the past 12 months and I think this year will see that pattern continue – those who have researched the product will not commit to purchasing, especially with ongoing curtailment on holiday and leisure spending.”
Industry experts report these sales have been polarised at the entry and at the top-end of the market.
Marketing manager at Blanco John Robinson says: “With no new holidays and no need for new cars this past 12 months, a lot of consumers are able to push their kitchens, fixtures and fittings into levels they wouldn’t have been able to before.
“Good news for the premium brands, but just as good for the entry-level brands as they too see consumers enter the market that, perhaps, wouldn’t have been there before the pandemic.”
However, leader category UK at Grohe Elina Enqvist-Twomey believes it is the top-end which is showing the greatest signs of growth: “We have found that when it comes to hot water taps, consumers are increasingly seeking out more premium options that can offer additional features to give them peace of mind, particularly around safety, in their day-to-day lives.”
Interestingly, then, while sales conversations may have once focused on the aesthetics, now hot water taps are becoming mainsteam industry experts suggest choice is based upon a deeper understanding.
Leanne Adamson of Abode says: “Finishes are important but not the only focus of differentiation. Quality, energy efficiency, ease of installation, operational functionality and style are all elements that will impact a consumer’s purchasing decision.”
And John Robinson of Blanco agrees, pointing out: “The differentiators in the market are more than just the look of the mixer tap.
“Giving the user better control over the boiling water and reassuring any safety concerns with better, high-quality components and improved performance are arguably more important than the shade of brushed gold. Differentiation is more than just skin deep.”
In fact, manufacturers are actively encouraging consumers to look further than the finishes as Anne Kaarlela, marketing communications and customer service manager Europe and Russia for InSinkErator, points out: “InSinkErator advises consumers to look at more than just the style and initial cost when it comes to selecting their specialist kitchen tap.”
The company points to its warranty and WRAS approval for its instant water tap fittings.
And let’s not forget half of the instant hot water tap story is actually beneath the worktop, with a choice of stainless steel or titanium boilers, in a range of capacities.
In fact, Enqvist-Twomey of Grohe comments: “Offering a variety of boiler capacities is a great way to ensure you meet the needs of all consumers, from busy family households to young professionals.”
And she adds filtration can also help provide differentiation between instant hot water taps for consumers: “The very latest filter options can incorporate additional minerals into the water such as magnesium and zinc, so that your water is not only clean, fresh and filtered but also makes a positive contribution towards your daily intake of essential materials.”
While health and hygiene may be at the forefront of consumers’ minds, given the backdrop of the pandemic, the longer-term future sales of instant hot water taps are also secure, as it promotes sustainability.
Reducing world resources is becoming a greater concern and the hot water tap reduces energy use in the home.
Blanco has even introduced a 4-in-1 tap model that measures out a precise amount of hot water to ensure only the exact quantity is heated.
Anne Kaarlela of InSinkErator comments: “According to the Energy Saving Trust 40% of households boil the kettle at least four times a day, with 75% admitting to boiling more water than they need, accounting for a significant amount of water and energy wasted every year. Homeowners can save water, energy and time, with a specialist kitchen tap.”
While a hot water tap may not replace all kettles, everywhere and for all kitchens, certainly the concept has entered the mainstream.
And thankfully it’s a product that needs the reassurance of purchasing through a retailer, so long may the sales of hot taps continue.