It all comes out in the wash

23 May, 17

Slim-line models, enhanced wash performance and savings in time, energy and water will help drive the market for dishwasher sales

While the penetration of dishwashers remains painfully slow, with Neilsen figures reporting it stands at 43% as opposed to two years ago of 40%, it may seem like sales are fairly stagnant. But, in fact, the market is showing signs of single digit growth. While there seems to be marginal differences between the figures, ranging from the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliance reports of 4% to Miele citing 7%, it is in a positive direction. And the market is substantial, as dishwasher product manager at Beko Laura Selton points out they “now account for a total of £311.6million (value sales) in the UK market.”

Across the board

Industry experts cite the newbuild sector is intrinsic to the growth of dishwasher sales, as communications director of Whirlpool Ian Moveley explains: “The dishwasher is undeniably linked with the number of new homes being built, as developers view a dishwasher as an essential component of the modern kitchen.” And the good news is that despite Brexit, manufacturers believe the growth of newbuild housing will continue. Senior brand manager of Hotpoint Jennifer Taylor comments: “Whilst we expected a decrease in housebuilding after the Brexit vote, the reality isn’t quite as uncertain as what was originally predicted. Therefore we are certainly expecting the penetration of dishwasher sales here in the UK to continue to rise in the coming years.”

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However, that’s not to say the refurbishment market hasn’t also played a significant role in the growth of dishwasher sales. Category manager of Indesit Dmitry Letsman comments the ‘improve not move’ brigade is having a positive effect on dishwasher sales: “According to a recent houzz survey, 82% of homeowners who update their kitchen appliances during a kitchen renovation opt to replace or add a dishwasher.”

Split customer base

The consumer base seemingly mirrors the split between newbuild and refurbishments, with polarised sales for younger customers and more experienced purchasers. Product manager for the Belling Sensicare collection at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA) Jacqueline Bell says there is a “much wider demographic now demanding them [dishwashers] as part of any new kitchen.”

For younger buyers, the dishwasher is now an expectation of a kitchen specification, rather than a luxury addition. Senior brand manager of Whirlpool Jennifer Taylor agrees, stating: “Sales are certainly being driven by the younger generation. Those who grew up with a dishwasher cannot imagine life without one, and the purchase of a dishwasher is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury to this generation.” And Laura Selton offers some stats on first time buyers, commenting: “Year-on-year data suggests that the number of consumers purchasing their first ever dishwasher in 2016 increased by 8%.”

Perhaps, it could be argued that a greater span of price points has also opened up the market to younger buyers, meaning they are less of a considered purchase. Dishwasher category manager at Miele Jamie Carboni  states: “With over 50% of sales coming from below the £350 price point, dishwashers are becoming more affordable and thus sales are increasing.”

And, yet, an increase in the value of the dishwasher market further suggests there are people prepared to invest in their appliances. Enter the experienced buyer on their second or third machine. Product manager for dishwashing at AEG Andrew Wasdell continues: “As customers look to replace older dishwashers, they are seeking newer models which feature the most up-to-date technology, and are willing to pay a premium price for this.” (See Expert View below)

So what are the dishwasher expectations of younger and more experienced consumers? And what may retailers need to focus on to ensure they not only meet their needs but maximise the value of the sale? Jamie Carboni says quite simply: “Cleaning, performance, energy consumption, water usage and design are still the main issues.”

Enhanced performance

In terms of cleaning, manufacturers have improved the performance of washing negating the need for pre-soaking and have also considered the drying process too. Hotpoint offers a Zone Wash System, which allows for 30% more washing power to a particular basket to remove stubborn baked-on food. While Whirlpool has the PowerClean Pro high pressure jets at the back of the dishwasher to remove burnt-on food. Similarly Beko offers the Aquaintense function with an additional spray arm and high water pressure to produce an intensive wash.

Improved drying functions also make for enhanced performance, as manufacturers have sought ways to reduce water spots, meaning cutlery and glasses are table ready. Jacqueline Bell of GDHA states: “Turbo heat drying features are currently a popular function as not only do they help to dry the dishes more quickly but can also reduce the chances of water droplet marks forming on glassware.”

Internal flexibility

And now with flexible internal arrangements, dishwashers can clean a wider variety of homewares and provide greater capacity to wash more in one go. Jennifer Taylor of Hotpoint comments: “It is also important for the internal design of the dishwasher to allow for the most effective loading flexibility to the consumer, to accommodate for dishes, pots and pans of all shapes and sizes. Flexiload, available across the range of Hotpoint Ultima dishwashers, enables maximum internal flexibility, featuring height adjustable baskets, folding and removable glass supports, fully folding plate racks and vertical zones to improve stability and storage.” And product manager of Hoover Candy Baumatic Daniel Dewey agrees and points to “the internal configuration of the dishwasher and the number of place settings it can accommodate”, as important purchasing considerations for consumers. He adds: “Consequently, Baumatic’s integrated range includes energy and water-efficient machines that offer 15 and 16 place settings as standard.”

Saving commodities

All of these functions mean consumers save, arguably, one of the most precious commodities – time, as they can clean more in one wash! But manufacturers have also created specific programmes to speed up the entire process. Express, Rapid or Sprint wash programmes clean in as little as 17 minutes, while there are also washing and drying programmes that can be completed in less than an hour.

Of course, time is just one commodity that can be saved but driven by EU directives for improved energy efficiency, manufacturers have also reduced water and energy use. Dishwashers can now use as little as six litres of water per load, while the premium Adora dishwasher from V-Zug can use as little as one litre for a smaller load. In fact, Dmitry Letsman of Indesit comments: “Models that use an average of 10 litres or less per cycle now account for just over a third of all value sales.”

To help achieve these energy ratings, manufacturers have looked not only at sensor technology but adopted invertor motors, which are quieter than more traditional models. These are suited for open plan kitchens, where excessive background noise can be distracting if choosing to socialise in the area. Jennifer Taylor of Hotpoint comments: “The advanced brushless motor and sound insulating panels found in the Hotpoint FDUD 43133X dishwasher, dramatically reduce noise levels and offers a 42dB rating.”

Small kitchens

So it begs the question, why does the UK lag still so far behind the European penetration of the dishwasher? Ian Moverley of Whirlpool offers a statistical explanation: “With a growing number of UK households comprising of single dwellers and couples, and with an increasing number of homes having small, compact kitchens, the number of consumers owning a dishwasher is relatively low compared to countries such as France and Germany, where 7 in 10 consumers own a dishwasher.” He believes that the current low-level penetration in the UK is simply down to “the misconception that consumers believe they do not have the space for one.” Jennifer Taylor agrees, adding: “Research commissioned by Hotpoint found that of the 1.066 surveyed participants, 55% expressed that they do not have enough space for one.”  Enter the slim-line dishwasher.

In-line with the growing trend for integrated dishwashers to meet the trends for clean-lined kitchens, Laura Selton of Beko reports: “In particular slim-line built-in models saw a 27% increase in 2016”. And she explains how her company is helping consumers understand how a dishwasher can fit in their home: “At the moment, we’re working with Finish to dispel myths around the size a kitchen needs to be to incorporate a dishwasher. A specially created microsite shows consumers how with a few clever tricks, every home from a house boast to a city apartment has space for one.”

Smarten up

Of course dishwashers, like many appliances in the home, are becoming subject to the requirement for greater connectivity. Jamie Carboni of Miele comments: “The market is showing a trend towards connected appliances with 54% of consumers feeling that smart technology will have an impact on their lives over the next few years. The WiFi-enabled dishwashers within our range have integrated, smart technology allowing the consumer to control their dishwasher from their smartphone using the Miele@Mobile App.” While Hoover introduced Wi-Fi enabled dishwasher as part of its connected Wizard range of appliances.

Carboni points to the future development of the App for consumers, adding: “The Miele@Mobile will also be linked to a ShopConn@ct function from late 2017, which will enable users to order their salt, rinse aid and dishwasher tabs via Miele’s Online Shop.”

And Whirlpool is set to introduce a connected dishwasher to its range of 6th Sense Live range of appliances. Ian Moverley of Whirlpool makes the point: “It is important to remember that smart technology cannot be effectively demonstrated on the Internet, and can only be demonstrated on the shop floor. This is a great opportunity for the entrepreneurial, independent kitchen retailer. It provides an immense opportunity to engage and connect with the consumer and get them back into the showroom.”

Potential growth

Certainly the market for dishwashers has great potential. Stringent water and energy efficiency standards will ensure it continues to be a staple in the newbuild kitchen and as younger people continue to expect a dishwasher as standard, sales are set for growth. Once mature first-time buyers recognise not only will a model fit into their kitchen, but it can save water, energy and time too, then the UK may finally catch up with mainland Europe. Ian Moverley concludes: “It is important to note that for every five people who enter the showroom, three of them are unlikely to own a dishwasher. This means that there is a real opportunity


Ease of use

Product manager of dishwashers Andrew Wassell looks at the technology which makes dishwashers easy to use and provide a quality wash for a variety of homewares

As customers look to replace older dishwashers, they are seeking newer models which enhance the user experience and genuinely make a difference. The modern day consumer is looking for a dishwasher that is simple to use, provides a high quality wash and has a capacity big enough to house a variety of different sized dishes, glasses and plates without compromising on cleaning.

Demonstrating ease of use, AEG has launched the ComfortLift® Dishwasher, featuring technology that lets consumers lift the lower basket upwards, removing the need to bend down repeatedly. Dishes and cookware are gently brought up to a convenient working height allowing users to load and unload with comfort and ease. The ComfortLift dishwasher has been awarded with an iFGold Design Award for its lower-rack lifting mechanism. Additionally, it has been presented with ‘Best of the Best’ at the Red Dot Awards.

In addition, to ensure the dishwasher is big enough to fit in larger pots and pans, ProClean models have extra-large internal capacities. Consumers also often worry about washing their best glassware, but ProClean dishwashers have a Glasscare45 programme and each stem is held in place by rubber clamps to protect them from tilting, whilst rubber spikes provide extra support and reduce the risk of damage during the wash.

In addition, ProClean dishwashers feature AirDry technology, which uses natural airflow to finish the drying process. By automatically opening the door by 100mm in the last part of the drying cycle, it helps remove watermarks often experienced at the end of a cycle. To suit busy lifestyles AEG has also developed a convenient Timesaver option, reducing the total wash time by 50%.

On top of this, we are aware of the growing demand for plinthless kitchens and cupboard storage beneath the dishwasher. This only becomes a viable option if the dishwasher door mechanism is designed so that there is no need for a cabinet cut out or any required space allowance for the door to open. Our solution is a sliding hinge that ensures the dishwasher door opens within the confines of the dishwasher cabinetry, meaning the dishwasher blends seamlessly into the kitchen design.