Electric switch

17 Nov, 17

Philippa Turrell takes a look at the market for induction and discovers how it is set to take over gas as the go-to fuel choice

Having become firmly established as a mainsteam hob choice, induction is continuing its charge in sales. Such is its popularity, appliance experts state induction now accounts for the majority of electric hob sales and a third of all hob sales. Head of category for built-in at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances Alex Hinton comments: “Induction has taken significant leaps forward and now represents 52% in sales volume terms [of electric hob sales].” And built-in cooking product manager at Beko Salah Sun points out how the past 12 months, alone, have seen a growth in induction hob sales: “Over the past year, sales of induction hobs have grown 25% compared to 2016. Induction hobs now make up 31% of the overall hob market, according to date for the first half of 2017.”

Becoming first choice

With such an upsurge in sales, and reportedly the fastest-growing type of hob, is induction now the fuel of choice? Sales director of UK & Ireland for V-ZUG UK Rhys Evans states this is true in his company’s sales figures, as he states: “V-ZUG is reporting that 90% of all hob sales are apportioned to induction. I would think across the board, induction now has parity with gas.” Of course, this could be because the company operates at the top-end of the market, which is more inclined to opt for higher priced induction models.  In fact, Salah Sun argues gas is still at the forefront of sales for hobs but predicts a seismic shift for the entire sector within as little as 24 months: “Gas hobs still make up 40% of the market, so induction has not won yet. Within the next two years, I think we’ll see that change.”

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Kitchen showroom success

It will be kitchen showrooms who will reap the most rewards from the sales shift to induction hobs, as the majority of sales are already through this sector. Salah Sun states: “We’ve seen a lot of positive growth through the kitchen furniture/kitchen specialise and the DIY channel. Sales through these channels account for approximately 50% of the total induction hob market.” And induction hobs are predicted to grow through the new build channel too.

Although they may be specified for premium developments, and as we reported last year, induction is not yet a go-to for the mid-priced Housebuilder due to being price prohibitive. However, category marketing manager for built-in cooking at Hotpoint Raffaele Rochira believes this is likely to change, as she explains: “House building regulations are, however, tightening year-on-year and it is likely that mid-market house builders will soon reconsider their appliance choices to reduce the carbon footprint of the home.”

Larger model moves

With manufacturers working hard on introducing induction across the board, it has widened the accessibility of the technology and along with it provided a greater choice of models. It has seen induction offered on built-in hobs, from dominos through to 900mm models, as well as freestanding cookers such as range models. Marketing manager of Rangemaster Kathryn Lowe points out: “Rangemaster pioneered the introduction of induction to range cookers, with induction [now] available on 11 models.”

Of these, the 600mm built-in induction hob is still the most popular variant to complement the standard 600mm wide oven. However, there has been a movement towards the larger 900mm format, as Salah Sun reports: “600mm models are still the most popular, but we are seeing a slight lean towards 800 and 900mm models. We haven’t seen any growth in the 700mm category but we’ve noticed around 20% growth in [the] 900mm induction hob market.” Certainly, this is true at the premium end of the market, as Rhys Evans of V-ZUG offers some of his sales statistics: “For V-ZUG, we can advise that 800mm hobs are up by 40%. That said, 900mm models are up by 60%.” He also points out induction dominos, which can be combined with models of differing fuel types are making a resurgence. “Domino hobs are also making a comeback due to greater flexibility and aesthetics.”

Tech filters down

However, it’s not only the format of the induction hob which is differentiated by price level. Of course, technological features also separate premium models from mid and lower priced models. Or do they? While zoneless models may still be towards the upper end of the market, hobs which can combine two zones to make a larger cooking area have filtered from the mid into the entry level. Alex Hinton of GDHA comments: “As induction becomes more widely adopted, manufacturers at the top end of the market sought to add further functionality to differentiate from the mid and lower ends. Zoneless technology fulfilled that gap, but that too has begun to filter down. When Glen Dimplex Home Appliances launched its first flexible induction hobs, we introduced different levels of functionality across each of our brands – Stoves, Belling and New World – to ensure this technology was accessible at all market levels.” And brand manager of Indesit Sara Bazeley agrees flexible induction zones are now available across the board: “Bridge zones are now available at the entry level of the market for induction hobs.”

And even connectivity, which is often perceived to be at the top-end of the market is available at mid-market prices with the likes of Hoover Candy’s HESD4 induction hob, part of its Wizard range. It allows consumers to monitor the cooking process via an app to check cooking time, zone temperatures and pan compatibility. Marketing director for built-in appliances at Hoover Candy UK Juan Pillay points out: “At Hoover our aim is to bring this useful tech to the mass market with affordable yet high quality appliances.”

Top sensor technology

It ultimately leads us to ask the question, what is the tech driving or set to influence future sales at the top end of the market? Sensor technologies that assist the user in achieving better results are key for premium appliances. Siemens, for example, features the fryingSensor which maintain the pan temperature to avoid scorching. While V-ZUG boasts RiceControl which stops the cooking process when rice is ready, CookingControl which will switch to a lower heat after boiling for continued cooking and TemperatureControl which monitors the pan for consistent results. Hotpoint induction hobs boast the Chef mode, with four pre-set functions for melting, simmering, keeping warm and quick boil and among its features the Gorenje IQ634USC induction hob features IQPro for slow cooking at lower temperatures and IQgrill which offers three levels of cooking for the likes of steak.

Evolving with extraction

Going forwards, appliance experts state induction hob technology will not evolve in isolation but will develop in line with the hood. Already available in the market, hob to hood connectivity, where the hob uses Bluetooth to control the hood operation, will continue to make its mark. Alex Hinton of GDHA states: “One of the key innovations starting to appear in the market – and which is expected to grow in the coming months and years – is hob to hood connectivity. Once again, this is going to provide a point of difference at the higher end of the market.”

However, already this year extraction has made an impact on induction hob design. A major focus of development for many premium appliance manufacturers has been an induction hob which incorporates integrated downdraft extraction. Product manager at Smeg UK Lucy King comments: “Combining appliances is certainly a key trend at the moment.”

Big appliance brand names have now followed the lead of specialist appliance suppliers to offer models which combine cooking and extraction. The likes of Bora have since been joined by Elica, BSH and Miele which offer induction hobs with integrated downdrafts. Although it is yet to be seen whether these will be disruptor products to the traditional hood and hob combo, it does signal the growing evolution of the induction hob together with the hob. In fact, Rhys Evans of V-Zug openly states: “I predict that we will see integral extraction linked to usage as the next must-have for induction hob design.”

Growing in importance

But whether a client opts for a top of the range TFT display induction hob with sensor technology, integral extraction or a more entry level model, induction is going to grow in importance for all kitchen projects. As more consumers get switched on to the benefits of energy saving, speed and convenience of cooking, as well as ease of cleaning, induction is only going to continue its charge in sales. And it’s a view re-iterated by appliance experts in the industry. Salah Sun offers a summary of the impact of induction sales for this year and for following months: “It’s been a really positive start to the year for induction hobs, and it’s likely we’ll see continued growth going forwards.”