What a soap opera

06 Mar, 15

Who knew the death of bath tubs would be so emotive?

I’ve written some articles that have courted controversy, dallied with debate and maybe even forged a furore but none more so than one tweet I sent during a press launch. Not only did I receive a blizzard of responses but a particularly vitriolic message “what a pathetic piece from a bathroom journo in the industry”. So what on earth could I have written to merit such response (in 140 characters)? Exactly this – 12 words – “CEO of @MethvenUK predicts the end of the bath in 10 years”. Who knew the tub was so emotive? Apparently (and as pointed out by heating and plumbing distributor WestCo of Leigh), bathtubs like politics, football and religion should never be discussed in polite conversation. Brilliant!

I reported on what one Group CEO of a company said during a presentation. But if you really want to know my thoughts … (may as well get stoned for my own views than someone else’s). I don’t think predicting the death of the bath tub in 10 years is such a bold statement, as some retailers and manufacturers have suggested. Why? Well, I have mega trends supporting my view.

We all know the population is ageing. It has been reported the number of over 75s is set to double over the next 30 years. Showering is suited for those less mobile as the environment is easier to enter than stepping in and out of a bath. It offers older people peace of mind, subsiding fears of slipping. My parents have already removed their bath in favour of a shower, and they’re not progressive, so I’m sure they can’t be the only ones.

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But showering isn’t just suited for the old and infirm – what about consumers who are still of working age? In the UK almost four million employees work over 48 hours a week, and one in ten men work at least 60 hours a week, according to the TUC. The average working week is 43.6 hours, above the European average of 40.3 hours states the congress. And showering is a more convenient and speedier method of cleaning than bathing for time-poor consumers who just want to wash and go.

But it’s not only the changing demographics of the population which supports shower sales, the sheer size and continued growth better supports showering. As the UK population grows, more people in the same area will vie for the same resources, and therefore water efficiency will not only become more significant, arguably it may even become integral to future bathroom design. As we all know showers use less water than baths.

The death of the bath tub is only a prediction and not an instruction. So, why the furore? And we are talking about in 10 years’ time after all. A decade ago, could you have foreseen the popularity of the iPhone, rise in robotic vacuums, home computer games, contactless payment or even Twitter – the medium that spawned this whole soap opera in the first place? So is the rise of the shower to the detriment of the bath really that unbelievable?

Surely it’s natural we question how we need to improve and evolve bathroom design to better meet the need of consumers – otherwise we would all still be bathing in a steel tub in front of the fire? Just as I write this, The Independent reports a self-clean coating has been invented which can be applied to clothes. So perhaps, alongside baths, washing machines will become obsolete too? Duff, duff, duff, duff, duffa, duffa.