Mind the tap

27 Mar, 15

Are boiling and filtered taps in direct competition as part of a consumer’s kitchen budget?

While water delivery options used to be confined to simply hot, cold and mixed supplies, now there are many more options with steaming, boiling, chilled and filtered no longer considered an unusual choice. And the market for these specialised kitchen brassware options are picking up momentum, not least reflected in the number of suppliers entering the filtered and steaming water market. Joan Fraser, product development manager of Smeg UK explains: “The market is growing because people have started to reinvest in their homes, but as the market has only been picking up momentum in the last 18 months the increase is gradual.”


Boiling streams ahead

But how do sales of steaming or boiling taps and filtered taps compare? Since the filtered water tap market is the older of the two, experts believe that steaming or boiling water models have nudged ahead. Last year, we reported that boiling taps were on the rise, but filtered was the most popular. Now it seems that boiling and steaming taps have surged ahead. In fact, Steve Rutter, marketing operations manager at Franke, goes as far to state: “Boiling hot water taps are by far the stronger seller over filter taps now because they are the new kid on the block and awareness of them is steadily rising as the gadget to have in your kitchen… While it has a higher price tag, I think consumers see that the benefits justify the cost.” And his views are reflected by Neil Clarke, marketing director of Carron Phoenix, who says: “Sales of filter taps are good but they are showing signs now of plateauing. They used to be the aspirational purchase but they have been overtaken by the boiling hot water tap.”

Sponsored Video


Filter first contact

However that doesn’t mean the filtered water tap isn’t worth displaying and selling for accomplished kitchen showrooms. As Luke Shipway, product manager at Caple comments: “There will always be a market for a tap which filters the market.”

And such is the popularity of the filtered water tap, it is now available at a wide variety of price points making it more accessible for consumers. In fact, the filtered water tap could be the first way a consumer may experience the specialist tap market, broadening sales possibilities down the line for a replacement or in their next kitchen project. Marketing director for InSinkErator, Linda Phouttasak of InSinkErator points out: “The filtered tap is often an entry level product for consumers moving into the specialist tap market.”


Kitchen habits

To encourage a consumer into purchasing a specialist tap, accomplished kitchen retailers will be mindful of a consumer’s eating, drinking and lifestyle habits, to offer the most relevant product. Iain Entwistle, marketing manager at Astracast, explains how a consumer’s lifestyle may influence their decision to purchase a filtered tap: “Many consumers are much more health conscious these days. We think this is also affecting the sales of filtered taps as people are drawn to how filtered water tastes much fresher without chlorine, and that it can also remove pesticides, solvents, sediment, rust and dirt.” The filter tap can also help to prevent damage to irons and kettles, as well as reduce the use of plastic bottles, thus helping to save the environment [See Expert View].

However, it can be argued the steaming or boiling water tap can provide much more functionality. Not only can it prepare drinks, by replacing the kettle, but it can be an aid for cooking and cleaning. Stephen Johnson, MD of Quooker contests: “A boiling water tap is now regarded as a fully-fledged kitchen appliance like a washing machine or an oven.”


Add-on opportunity

Most of all, the importance of these specialist taps is that they offer accomplished kitchen retailers and designers an upsell opportunity, while providing consumers additional functionality in their kitchens.  This can be with or without a complete kitchen sale as they can replace a traditional tap in a quick-fix refurbishment as Iain Entwhistle of Astracast explains: “Taps can be bought individually and retrofitted to a kitchen at any time of year.”

And best news of all, there is plenty of sales potential as the market is still relatively young. Linda Phouttasak  of InSinkErator comments: “These products are still relatively under the radar for some, which means there is huge scope for retailers to educate consumers and encourage sales of these products; not to do so is an opportunity and a margin missed.”

One of the best ways to showcase the potential of these taps, is obviously to have working models in the showroom to help to show customers what benefits a specialist tap can bring. It is important to remember to consider safety with these taps on display; many boiling or steaming taps have integrated safety features. Linda Phouttahasak of InSinkErator comments: “Steaming hot water taps can be demonstrated with ease in any showroom and can make a real difference to the home. It is therefore essential for the retailer to bring a customer’s attention by displaying these special products.”


More designs required

The market for filtered, steaming and boiling water taps can only progress, with an increasing number of designs entering the market. However Dave Mayer, sales and marketing director, Reginox believes there needs to be a greater variety of design for them to truly fulfil their sales potential : “Consumers will be looking for 4-way taps that offer instant hot, filtered cold and ordinary hot and cold water. These represent a good opportunity for the retailers to encourage the consumers to trade up but, in order for them to really take off, their aesthetic design will need to improve.” He continues: “Function is currently still taking priority over form and their design needs to be reworked to allow them a place alongside some of the beautiful creations in the modern kitchen.”

And to further widen sales opportunities, manufacturers have also looked to the design beneath the sink, ensuring filtered, steaming and boiling water taps don’t obscure valuable cupboard space. Helen Clark, marketing manager at Abode states that customers must be made aware of how much space will be needed: “Understanding the correct amount of space that is required within the kitchen unit to accommodate either a boiler unit or a filter cartridge, should be taken into consideration.” To further enhance consumers’ usable space in the cupboard, Franke has developed its Minerva range to offer a heater that’s sits underneath the plinth.


Furthering tap functions

But how will the market shape up for filtered, steaming and boiling water taps? Industry experts suggest as the market becomes more mainstream, so will taps become more multifunctional. Steve Rutter of Franke states: “Inevitably product development continues to look at adding in more functionality for 4-in-1 and even 5-in-1 options incorporating hot, cold, boiling, filtered, chilled or sparkling water but it’s not easy to overcome all the technicalities to produce a credible product. Plus, such a model will command a premium price, placing it in an altogether different customer segment and making it more of an elite, niche product.”

So while steaming and boiling taps may be the latest must-have taps for the premium kitchen, don’t forget the consumers who may not stretch to the price tag and consider showing them a filtered version. Specialist taps are only going to grow in popularity and it will be exciting to see where the next developments take them for the most luxurious environments. As Stephen Johnson of Quooker concludes: “We can even foresee in ten years’ time a scenario in which the vast majority of kitchens will include a boiling water tap.”

The full article appears in the September 2014 issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News.