Variety is the spice of life, and that’s evident in the array of bathroom sink and faucet offerings available on the market today. Internet savvy consumers come to designers expecting to have a wide array of choices, and they get input from myriad sources: designers, showrooms, magazines, home shows…they can even ask several hundred of their “friends” for their thoughts using social media.
Likewise, flexible work schedules and family configurations and a diversity of lifestyle trends are impacting how the bathroom is used, which impacts sink and faucet trends. The economy, too, plays a significant role in product selections.
So, it’s not surprising that manufacturers are creating an ever-widening array of products to meet diverse needs and desires over a variety of price points.
However, certain key trends still emerge, including a desire for personalized products in the bath, an interest in water conservation and a move toward choices that are easy to use, durable and low maintenance.
PERSONALIZATION & STYLE TRENDS
“Personalization still rules,” says Kevin McJoynt, v.p. of brand management at Danze in Woodbridge, IL. “Homeowners want to put their fingerprint on the decor of their homes, so it’s all about personal style,” he says.
Although most manufacturers agree that traditional styles continue to dominate the market, “traditional” has a broader than ever range of definitions – more evidence of the growing personalization trend. Additionally, transitional styling remains a strong counter trend, and there’s some demand for contemporary styles, as well.
But whether the style is traditional, transitional or contemporary, McJoynt maintains, “Choices will be key for homeowners…the trend will be on variety.”
Mixing and matching designs is one way that designers are helping their clients make a personal style statement in the bathroom. Paul Flowers, senior v.p. of design for the Bloomingdale, IL-based Grohe says, “Surface textures throughout the bathroom are being mixed to emphasize sink and faucet finishes – the rough with the smooth, high-gloss with matte – highlighting the variety of tones.”
However, Flowers also explains that some consumers are coordinating designs, finishes and accessories to polish off the look. “And those looking to make a statement are also choosing alternative materials or unusually shaped sinks to bring focus to the sink area.”
According to Arturo Robles, senior product evaluation engineer with the International Association of the Plumbing and Mechanical Officials in Ontario, Canada, manufacturers work hard to develop eye-catching products highlighting different designs, colors, shapes and finishes. Robles notes that research indicates “the look of the bathroom is decided more by the wives than by husbands,” and he adds, “The trend is to come up with something different, yet functional, to make the bathroom an elegant part of the house.”
While the economy has been showing signs of recovery, many consumers are still watching their spending, which creates a demand for products that offer real value.
“Customers are seeking value in all of their purchases, and bathroom sinks are no exception,” says Kim Albrecht, senior market analyst-lavatories, Kohler, in Kohler, WI. She adds, “We believe that this is a trend that will continue in the long term.”
“With the economic recovery progressing slowly, consumers continue to behave cautiously,” says Brent Haas, marketing communications manager for Brasstech in Santa Ana, CA. “Remodeling activity appears to be picking up, but consumers are more price conscious than in the past due to the housing corrections and high unemployment rates,” he states.
However, as consumers begin to emerge from their cocoons, there is some more good news. “We’re beginning to see consumers coming back into showrooms. There seems to be more consumer confidence around renovations again – particularly with regard to the long-term benefits of renovation,” says Jody Rosenberg, v.p./sales & marketing for Graff in Milwaukee, WI. Those long-term benefits, points out Rosenberg, could include things such as building in low-flow faucets.