The working from home brigade has recently driven sales of instant hot water taps. But will this buoy long-term success?
It wasn’t that long ago, the instant hot water tap didn’t exist in the UK. Now it is, arguably, one of the most coveted items in the kitchen with no signs of sales slowing.
What was once a niche, luxury product is now available across a wide range of price points from a rapidly-developing number of brands.
Sales and marketing director at Franke UK Jo Rawstron comments: “Awareness and sales of hot taps have grown dramatically over the last 10 years with almost all tap brands competing in this segment because it offers a lot of growth and sales potential.”
Offering some statistics on the growth of consumer interest, managing director of Abode Matthew Pitt says: “The market has grown markedly in the past two years and not just at the top-end of the market.
“Over a fifth of homeowners on Houzz said a boiling water tap was their dream kitchen appliance and searches of ‘hot water taps’ are up by as much as 135% on Pinterest in the past 12 months.
“Google searches of hot water taps have also increased by 25% this year alone.”
WFH driving sales
Of course, this year has been unlike any other with COVID-19 changing how we all live our lives.
Health and hygiene has come to the fore, which can only be benefitted by instant access to hot water for cleaning.
However, industry experts suggest it is actually the convenience for those working from home which has been a driver for instant hot water tap sales.
National account manager – commercial – for Blanco UK James Blood points out: “Obviously hygiene has been brought to the fore due to COVID-19 and our need and want to be clean.
“In addition, we have spent more time at home and consumers are looking at ways to make their life in hte kitchen easier and more ‘tech-enabled’.”
And Jo Rawstron of Franke UK agrees: “WFH (working from home) is undoubtedly an accelerator for sales as consumers are set to spend more time working, cooking and entertaining from home for the foreseeable future.”
4-in-1 gaining ground
And there are a wide range of instant hot water taps to cater for those working from home.
Designers can choose from a single hot water tap fitting through to a 3-in-1, 4-in-1 and even 5-in-1 mixer models with instant hot, filtered water and sparkling water adding to standard hot and cold supplies.
But the most popular variety of hot water tap still remains the 3-in-1, as James Blood of Blanco explains: “The 3-in-1 is still the go-to solution for the consumer due to price levels.”
Yet 4-in-1 taps which also offer filtered water are quickly gaining ground in hot water tap sales.
Matthew Pitt of Abode continues: “Within the hot water taps category, specifically, the 3-in-1 does remain the more dominant category currently with 37% more sales than the 4-in-1 category.
“However, this figure has shifted significantly when comparing 2019 to 2020. When comparing sales in the same period in 2019, the 3-in-1 was outperforming the 4-in-1 by 77%.”
It’s perhaps of little surprise as consumers are growing increasingly environmentally conscious that a tap which can deliver on reducing energy use, as well as plastic bottles for mineral water, is of particular interest.
Anne Kaarlela, marketing communications and customer service manager for Europe and Russia at InSinkErator says: “The future needs to continue to be about sustainability. Appliances that offer energy-saving benefits and reduce the impact on the environment are going to be at the top of the consumer wish list.”
Differentiation by design
With such an array of hot water taps, manufacturers have had to work hard to differentiate their products and brands, opening new avenues for sales and trade-up opportunities.
InSinkErator has gained approval for its 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 steaming hot water taps from the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS), while Abode has looked to further open up the market with the introduction of its most cost-effective model to date – the Pronteau Prothia Quad 3N1 tap.
Franke has looked to the use of technology for touch-free operation, reducing hand contact and therefore enhancing hygiene, with its Minerva 4-in-1 Electronic tap in a Helix model.
In fact, hot water tap design has become a real focus for manufacturers, as James Blood explains: “We have got the products right now but they all – across the board – look fairly similar and standard.
“The market is now working on new designs – semi-professional is in demand at the moment. So we are now working to bring these exciting new technologies to the design world.”
It is the reason why more finishes are now coming into the instant hot water taps world, with black and brass joining the standard chrome finish, such as the recent introductions by Quooker.
Certainly a tap is no longer just a tap, as the continued interest in instant hot water models continues to demonstrate.
And it is the role of the retailer, alongside the manufacturer, to help demonstrate the benefits and ‘matchmake’ the client to a lifestyle-enhancing model.
Busy families or young professionals may benefit from the convenience and eco-conscious consumers may be interested in getting rid of the kettle and reducing single use plastic bottles.
Matthew Pitt adds: “Through our own customer research, we have found that the benefit of Abode Pronteau they most like is the fact our PB2X boiler can be set between 80° C and 98°C, giving the consumer freedome to choose the perfect temperature for hot drinks such as coffee, which can be spoiled at 100°C.”
What is for certain is the market for instant hot water taps is only going to grow.
Anne Kaarlelea of InSinkErator concludes: “One of the most common mistakes when specifying a hot tap is not specifying one at all.
“There is a huge scope for independent kitchen retailers and designers to educate consumers on the range of products available, the benefits they offer and to encourage sales of these products. Not doing so is an opportunity and a margin missed.”