Director of K&B Audio Craig Walker looks at the market for audio visual systems for the kitchen and bathroom and says they will soon be standard in project specifications
Home entertainment is a large and growing market. With the mass adoption of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, we now have a whole world of entertainment at our fingertips.
The problem with this new way to easily access music and videos is that you’ll often find people streaming from their smartphones and tablets, or through small speakers placed on the kitchen side or balanced on the bath. These result in tinny sound, cables on show and countertop clutter.
However there are solutions to bring room-filling sound [and vision] to even the largest of kitchens and bathrooms. This makes for a great opportunity to start enhancing projects,
Thanks to simple and universal technologies like Bluetooth built into smartphones and tablets as standard, showrooms are finding it easier than ever to add them into projects with lower resistance from customers.
No longer do retailers need to engage with a professional AV installer and convince a customer of expensive specialist systems. Now showrooms can offer high quality, easy install systems that customers already understand.
Over the past few years, more and more kitchen and bathroom showroom are adding audio and video into projects of all sizes and budgets.
It’ll soon become a standard option for most kitchen and bathroom projects.
Each new development in kitchen and bathroom technology offers more potential and opportunities.
Consumers are also beginning to consider AV and technology as the “norm” making it easier to justify within their budgets.
There are a number of purpose-made AV products for kitchens and bathrooms.
From our experience the most popular systems include the Lithe Audio Bluetooth Ceiling Speaker, which is as easy to install as a downlight.
Available as a single speaker or as a pair, they simply require 230v power.
These are popular as they are super-easy to install, have a long warranty, good margins and cover 90% of requirements without confusing consumers.
For those who prefer DAB radio, then designers could look at the Systemline E100 – a stylish gloss black and stainless steel in-wall controller with FM & DAB Radio, Bluetooth and TV connection.
It’s sold as a complete plug and play kit ready to install. There are also remote controlled systems with built-in DAB radio tuners, such as KB Sound Select Star.
But if designers want a statement piece then look no further than the Gallo Acoustics droplet speakers which hang from the ceiling like pendant lights and can be matched to any kitchen.
Another consideration is bathroom televisions; these are now becoming more and more affordable and easier to install.
There’s a range of different sizes and finishes, including mirror, available from Proofvision. Designers can even use them in kitchen splashbacks.
The biggest growth that we have found in AV systems is thanks to Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Consumers are adopting these voice controlled smart assistants and using them on a daily basis.
However the standalone speakers don’t provide the full room coverage, hence why lots of people are combining them with proper integrated speaker systems.
Up-selling audio visual solutions to customers is a relatively straightforward task thanks to lower product cost, better reliability and the fact there is no longer a need to employ a specialist installer.
The key is to ensure the customer is aware of the possibilities and the benefits at the right stage.
Having a speaker system fitted in a showroom and easy-to-understand marketing materials will assist in getting the message across to customers.
The second element is to pick the right systems and not to over complicate things. Simplicity is key.
Designers should stick to a small range of key products, like the Lithe Audio Bluetooth ceiling speakers and the Systemline E100.
Both systems are easy to install and have a clear differentiation, one does Bluetooth, the other has DAB radio and a touch panel.
Some showrooms are even offering a Bluetooth ceiling speaker system free of charge in the project.
They are low cost and offer a high lifetime value to the customer, so they find that this helps give them the edge and win more quotes without the need for huge discounts.
We firmly believe in the not-too-distant future, the majority of kitchens and bathrooms will involve an element of audio visual driven by customer demand – whether it be a simple Bluetooth ceiling speaker, a television or a more involved system featuring lighting, audio and visual.
The needs and requirements of consumers are wide and shouldn’t be ignored.
Almost all new cars now come as standard with Bluetooth, DAB Radio, high quality speakers and voice control. Why wouldn’t consumers want to upgrade their entertainment & technology at home, if given the option, while refurbishing their primary living spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom?