Appliances Furniture

Why single ovens are an essential

With more capacity, functionality and unobtrusive styling, Philippa Turrell explains why the single oven is essential for cooking appliance sales

17 Nov, 17

With more capacity, functionality and unobtrusive styling, Philippa Turrell explains why the single oven is essential for cooking appliance sales

While the double oven may have traditionally been the go-to cooking appliance, it’s long been superseded by mainland European trends of single cavity models.

Built-in cooking manager at Beko Salah Sun points out: “Single ovens made up a 65.2% value share of all built-in ovens in 2016. We saw sales of single ovens rise by 12.2% last year, while double ovens grew by 4.6% in comparison”.

Now with single ovens boasting larger capacities, greater functionality and the ability to team with multiples appliances in a bank, they have firmly sealed their status as the first choice for cooking.

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Bigger is better

Certainly, one of the biggest developments (pardon the upcoming pun) has been the increase in capacity of the single oven.

Category marketing manager for built-in cooking at Hotpoint, Raffaele Rochira explains: “A decade ago, a standard oven capacity was around 55 litres. We now see capacities right up to 70 litres and more, with Hotpoint offering oven sizes right up to 73 litres.”

With improved cavity insulation, manufacturers are set to further increase the cavity in a standard 600mm footprint.

Marketing manager of Hoover Candy Heather England points out: “This is a speciality of the Hoover Candy Group and the Candy range includes 600mm single multifunction ovens with cavities of up to 73 litres, with 78-litre models being launched in early 2018.”

But it’s not simply an increase of internal space that is at the forefront of appliance development and sales. Manufacturers have looked to enhance the functionality of ovens too.

Cleaning convenience

With consumers often citing cleaning the oven is the most dreaded household chore; it’s no surprise that self-cleaning functionality has become a must-have specification.

With the oven on show in open plan kitchens, but time poor consumers resenting cleaning the appliance, pyrolytic, hydrolytic and catalytic models have all found favour despite being more expensive.

Brand manager of Whirlpool Catherine Balderson comments: “Pyrolytic ovens have become the fastest-growing technology in the ovens market, with analysts reporting 35% value growth.” And she exclaims: “The sector now accounts for 15% of the ovens market.” And there is still room for plenty of pyrolytic oven sales.

Salah Sun of Beko explains: “Last year, 69% of built-in ovens sold did not feature any kind of self-cleaning functions. However we did see sales of pyrolytic, hydrolytic and catalytic models all increase. There’s real opportunity here for retailers to upsell.”

Steam speciality

But, of course, the raison d’etre of an oven is cooking and here manufacturers have worked to meet the trend for ‘at home gourmet chefs’ with speciality functions.

One of the most important cooking options has been the recent introduction of steam. “We’ve seen steam ovens rise in popularity with consumers looking to create healthy meals at home”, exclaims Salah Sun.

Certainly, there has been a greater move towards consumers wanting to create restaurant quality food at home, and methods previously only used in restaurants are becoming common place in a residential kitchen.

Sales director of V-Zug for UK and Ireland Rhys Evans agrees pointing out: “Steam has fast become a front runner in appliance design, manufacturing and retail, demonstrating how the world of sous-vide cooking has now ventured from the professional kitchen into the home.”

In fact such is the popularity of steam; it has been mirrored in the portfolio of AEG where the brand has recently introduced a collection of models into its Mastery range.

Product manager UK & Ireland at Electrolux Martin Wilson comments: “One of our most popular ovens is the Steamback oven”, and he continues giving industry figures of sales growth: “The sales of steam ovens have grown by a phenomenal 393% in the past three years.”

Industry experts believe there is still room for growth, as steam is relatively new and consumers still need educating on using it in the cooking process.

“As manufacturers, we have the role of educating retailers and consumers on the benefits of steam, and the greater tasting results that can be achieved by using the different levels available. The majority of consumers would not have used steam previously, so there is a need to adjust the mind-set of the consumer”, states Martin Wilson.

Educating inexperienced

But, interestingly, not all oven functionality is focused on the experienced hobby cook.

Cooking appliance manufacturers have also looked to offer automatic programmes which could help educate those less accomplished or confident in the kitchen.

According to a recent survey by Neff over a third (34%) 25-34 year olds said they couldn’t boil an egg, and two in five Londoners didn’t know how to cook dry pasta.

The lack of culinary skills is reiterated in a GfK report on consumer attitudes to cooking, as explained by category director of Indesit Stewart Herd: “Research states that only 22% of British consumers feel they have great knowledge of and experience with food and cooking, and that 27% of Millennials are not interested in learning how to cook.”

Sales director of Gorenje UK Stuart Benson states how this has influenced his company’s product choice: “Lack of consumer knowledge when it comes to cooking meals is definitely something we’ve considered in our product research and development”.

Certainly there has been an increase in pre-programmed recipes which could cater for their needs, and this seems to be across the board in brands.

Among these, Indesit boasts the Turn & Cook function, which sees the oven automatically set the cooking time and temperature to cook over 80 recipes in an hour.

Hotpoint also offers Multi-recipe programmes, developed by chefs, which provides a selection of pre-programmed recipes.

However head of category for built-in at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA) Alex Hinton argues: “There is no evidence to suggest that consumers are buying into particular ovens specifically for the auto functions”

“However, manufacturers continue to develop ovens with more features and functions to allow further flexibility and improved results. This is a trend across all levels and brands.”

While Stuart Benson of Gorenge agrees there hasn’t been more requirement for auto programmes and cooking guides in comparison to recent years, he adds: “It’s fast becoming something that customers are willing to pay more for.”

Touch screen controls

In line with these functions that provide ease of use, manufacturers have also considered the controls from touch screens to flat wheel controls, similarly to an iPod.

These sleek interfaces also meet the current trend for appliances which blend seamlessly into furniture, as Rhys Evans of V-Zug describes: “This has meant knobs and controls have been removed and replaced by touchscreens, often with the addition of a central dial that retracts to leave the appliance looking flush to the surface and withdraw when not in use.”

Product manager at Caple Luke Shipway explains: “We’ve recently upgraded our Sense Premium collection with a stunning new touch control panel with electronic display, which makes every appliance in the collection easy to use.”

Connectivity move

This move to more digital controls can only be buoyed by increasing interest in cooking connectivity.

With the recent influx of smart assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo, even the most technophobe of consumer is becoming increasingly aware of the connected home.

Catherine Balderson of Whirlpool comments: “A recent survey revealed that over half of the UK population want technology which will make life easier at home. This is a driving factor for the market as connected appliances are capable of task delegation and take resource savings to the next level.”

Of course the market for connected appliances is still small and in its infancy, however Balderson is adamant when she adds: “Connectivity in ovens is on its way.”

The BSH Group – parent company of Bosch, Siemens, Neff and Gaggenau brands – has already entered the connected oven sector with the launch of Wi-Fi-enabled appliances and Home Connect App.

For use across all its connected appliances, the app enables a host of operations but for the oven these include including viewing recipes, preheating the oven remotely and keeping an eye on cooking with timer notifications.

Whether connected or not, the single oven is set to be a staple choice for the on-trend kitchen.

Not only does it offer culinary flexibility when teamed in a bank of appliances but also meets the requirements for kitchens which are restricted for space.

So whatever a customer’s needs in terms of cooking appliance, these models can be singled out for a potentially lucrative sale.