Do we need an iPhone equivalent for kbb industry?

13 Feb, 15

Before you demand ‘innovation’, perhaps educate consumers on what’s already available

Frequently before and sometimes after kitchen and bathroom trade shows the same questions are asked: “Will there be something new?” or “what was new?” Obviously a lot. A marketing strategy would somewhat awry if manufacturers spent thousands or more likely hundreds of thousands of pounds showcasing wares that have already been seen by the masses. At what point would they turn up with nothing to bring to the table?

What “new” in trade terms often refers to is ‘innovation’, a term loathed and avoided by journalists like the plague (we tend to avoid cliches too, but I’ve decided to break all the rules). And why do journalists dislike the term so much? Well, what does it truly mean? Ask different trade professionals and ‘innovation’ has differing meanings. That is, indeed, if they even know what they mean by it at all.I’ve often heard ‘innovation’ described as “something we didn’t know we need but we do” – similarly to a smartphone, then. But do we really need the kitchen and bathroom equivalent of the iPhone?

I’m not a Luddite. I love technology. So let me explain. There are already ideas in the kitchen and bathroom industry, such as induction and pyrolytic functions for cooking and digital technology for brassware that have been around for a while and have only started to gain ground. But they are still far from the average specification.

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And in In fact when new technology, such as Wi-Fi connectablity is introduced for these rooms retailers/designers can be wary and often dismissive. “Who wants to email or watch TV on their fridge?”, “All well and good you can control a washing machine on your phone but you still have to empty it”.

So shouldn’t we start to embrace and really push the technology already out there before we start demanding something more ‘innovative’? I’m not advocating the kitchen and bathroom industry doesn’t move forwards and at a pace. Products, together with design, form the backbone of this industry. I’m genuinely excited, for example, by the influence of digital technology in these rooms and how technology has brought new materials, forms and services into the bathroom and kitchen. The point I am trying to hammer home is before you demand more ‘innovation’ are you really maximising on what is already available. Or put quite simply, are you demanding too much?