Pane and simple

04 Aug, 15

Mirrors and mirrored cabinets offer sales avenues for bathroom designers and retailers, so make sure you get your share of this growing market

 A bathroom scheme is not fully-formed without the inclusion of a mirror or a mirrored cabinet, but how often are they sold as a part of a complete refurbishment? If the client is left to choose the finishing touches after the refit, then it opens up the opportunity for them to buy accessories elsewhere. It means bathroom designers and retailers could be missing out on a lucrative market to a variety of competing outlets, from online through to department stores.

Reflection on growth

Without argument, the sales for mirror and mirrored cabinets remain strong. In fact, experts report the market is actually experiencing growth. Just take a look at the likes of Heritage Bathroom, which has included ornate mirrors to complement its latest freestanding bath. Joint managing director of RAK offers some figures on the market: “At RAK, we saw sales of mirrors and mirrored cabinets increase by 25% during 2014”. And experts believe sales fly in the face of a survey from Houzz, last year, which found 1:5 UK respondents didn’t have a mirror or mirrored cabinet. Marketing director of HiB, Steve Kaye says: “There has been a step change in the way consumers regard smaller bathroom products and where once mirrors or mirrored cabinets were seen as functional ‘utilty’ products, they are now being given much more thought and consideration. If Houzz conducted the same survey in 2015 in 2015, the statistics would already reveal a different picture.”

Sponsored Video

However, some suggest the surprising survey statistic is simply due to ‘traditional’ planning issues. Marketing manager for Utopia Furniture Group, Sam Ball says the ‘lack’ of mirror or mirrored cabinet is “more likely to be because of the window position in the typical British bathroom. If the run of furniture has to be placed under the window, it isn’t then always possible to position a mirror or mirrored cabinet above it in the obvious location.” She adds: “From our sales, it is clear that the mirror or mirrored cabinet is consistently the third item purchased after the basin and the WC unit.”

Luxury mirror market

For bathroom designers and retailers who want to take advantage of these sales opportunities, the market for mirrors and mirrored cabinets appears to be divided. For the top-end of the market, which is highly-influenced by the look of boutique hotels, mirrors are the most popular choice. National sales manager at Keramag Design, Lynn Dale comments: “In the luxury sector, mirrors continue to be the most popular choice and the trend is to go large. In the last year, we’ve seen our most popular size of mirror increase from 600 x 700mm to 900 x 700mm for a single basin alone.”

And UK sales director at Bagnodesign Mark Walker says mirrors offer additional benefits: “Mirrors carry a certain amount of advantage as they are very quick and simple to replace, therefore providing an extremely effective way of instantly updating a bathroom.”

Storage for families

However, for the low to mid-priced or family bathroom, where pills and potions need to be kept away from small hands, experts suggest the mirrored cabinet is a more popular choice. Head of marketing at Twyford, Sabine Mane explains: “In the low to middle sector where bathrooms tend to be smaller, it is mirror cabinets that are a key growth area because of the valuable additional storage they provide when space is at a premium.”  But with the added storage, the mirrored cabinet obviously has added depth to a mirror, which can project into the room already limited for space. So, marketing manager for Roca Group (UK), Georgina Spencer advises: “I recommend choosing cabinets with a slim profile which will not encroach too much on the space, particularly in the smaller bathroom.”

Talking about tech

Certainly, whatever choice a consumer marks – mirror or mirrored cabinet – they offer so much more than a piece of glass for reflection. Adding electrics means a mirror or mirrored cabinet can now offer fog-free surfaces, lighting, sockets and even music or a TV for added entertainment. Bauhaus commercial manager Marten Baker says: “The technology and added extras that come with a mirror give it more selling power and also more features and benefits which the consumer will buy into. Handy things like shaver sockets prevent the need for a tile or part of the wall to be cut to install an independent one and Bluetooth give a feel of luxury and entertainment, jazzing up what is a pretty standard room in the house.”

Certainly the luxury-end of the market demands all the technological bells and whistles. Mark Walker of Bagnodesign comments: “We’re not just talking about integrated lighting and electrical sockets here either; at the top-end of market consumers are looking for all-out gadgetry including the latest integrated HD TVs and surround sound systems.”

But for the masses, most consumers would simply require lighting and a socket for a shaver, or in these days of the hipster beard, perhaps for the electrical toothbrush. Georgina Spencer of Roca Group (UK) says: “Lighting and electrical sockets are very important technological developments and can be a very big selling point for the consumer. Clock displays, Bluetooth etc are not so essential but rather still viewed as ‘nice to have’ elements if the budget allows.” And Wayne Dance of InHouse, which supplies Pelipal, agrees. Just this year the furniture manufacturer introduced LEDplus mirrors, which allow a consumer to choose between cool, mixed or warm light. Dance says: “Lighting in mirrors and mirrored cabinets is the key to future sales increases. Bathroom lighting has lagged behind for far too long and it is the one area that is now attracting huge consumer interest and demand.”

Blossoming Bluetooth feature

But going forwards, most bathroom experts agree Bluetooth is becoming the fastest-growing mirror or mirrored cabinet technology. Alvin Biggs of RAK comments: “Models which feature Bluetooth technology are incredibly popular.” And Leanne Adamson, marketing executive at Sensio adds: “We have seen an increasing number of sales and requests for our Bluetooth-enabled mirrors with speakers.”

In fact, so much so, Utopia Furniture Group is taking the technology used in its mirror and is taking them across to mirrored cabinets, as Sam Ball explains: “We offer added spec mirrors with popular features such as demisters, magnification and sensors. At the moment, we only offer these advanced features on mirrors but already we are considering transferring the technology to our mirror cabinets.” She adds: “It seems we can’t now be without access to our music, phones and iPads for a second, so new product development will focus on these areas.”

First and foremost

Of course, the answer of how to capitalise on the sales story of mirrors and mirrored cabinets is partly through displays in a showroom environment. But for those working in a multi-channel environment, perhaps also look at selling on web platforms. However, retailers and designers choose to illustrate mirrors and mirrored cabinets to clients, the reality is they must explain how much easier it would be to fit them as part of a bathroom, as opposed to afterwards when it could mean added electrical work and disrupted tiling. Just bringing mirror and mirrored cabinets to the attention of clients can only boost sales, and then there is the opportunity of added value. Surely that’s pane and simple!

This feature first appeared in Kitchens & Bathrooms News July/August 2015 issue