According to marketing manager Scott Davies of the Huntington Beach, CA-based Fisher & Paykel, “Performance, aesthetics, modularity and features with real customer benefits” are the key drivers of the specialty appliance market.
“Kitchens should be built and then appliances designed to go into them. We shouldn’t be restricted by [standard sized] large appliances to achieve the perfect kitchen layout,” Davies firmly believes.
As an example of this, he cites a number of Fisher & Paykel appliances flexible enough to fit “outside the box,” such as its CoolDrawer multi-temperature refrigeration drawers, DishDrawer dishwashers and CookSurface gas-in-glass technology. “All of these products incorporate ergonomics, ease of use, innovation and customization,” Davies notes.
Products offering flexibility – such as modular refrigeration – continue to grow in popularity, Hale agrees. “Whether homeowners want to position food storage closer to prep and cooking zones for efficient meal preparation, open up a kitchen’s design so guests can become part of meal preparation or place a wine column in a family room for easy entertaining, the flexibility of modular refrigeration lets the imagination run free,” she remarks.
“We’re seeing a trend indicating people want more refrigerators in more locations,” adds Jeff Wimberly, director of sales and marketing for Perlick Residential Products, in Milwaukee, WI.
The trend toward customization is seen both in appliance selection and placement, manufacturers note. The diversity of options is also critical.
“In the appliance market, customization and individuality are embodied in the form of diversity,” explains Jaemin Kwak, national sales director for Woongiin Coway USA, in Los Angeles, CA. “Customers who used to buy one product with thorough consideration and use it for 10-plus years are disappearing. Now, consumers try the products for a trial period, and upgrade to a new model that meets their specific needs. With this trend, manufacturers have to constantly monitor the changing needs of consumers, apply them to the products and reflect value in the prices,” he adds.
Combination appliances, such as the CombiSets by Miele, are another example of customization. These cooking surfaces let you mix and match induction, gas and electric, and are custom-tailored to the customer’s cooking style and preferences, says Tjoumakaris.
Joe Hutko, marketing manager for Everpure High End Residential, in Hanover Park, IL, says his firm is seeing a demand for customized water – in particular, sparkling waters. The company’s new Exubera appliance delivers both chilled sparkling water and chilled flat water in one unit, allowing consumers to customize their experience at any given moment.
Pat Byrne, executive v.p.. of Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens, based in Roanoke, VA says the desire for customization carries over to the outdoors. “People know they are not limited anymore, and they can have the same amenities outdoors they are used to inside.”
With the dizzying array of specialty appliance choices available in the marketplace, it’s important for designers to delve into the lifestyle of consumers as they plan the kitchen. Those lifestyles, hobbies and interests will help to dictate the appliances consumers desire, manufacturers say.
“It’s all about the lifestyle and surrounding yourself with products tailored to that lifestyle,” says Tjoumakaris. “If you collect wine and like to entertain, you may choose a wine cooler vs. a coffee system. If you like to entertain, you might choose a warming drawer and coffee system. Healthy eaters or families who want to make whole foods quickly will choose steam ovens and speed ovens.”
Green living is another lifestyle trend having an impact on the specialty appliance market. Appliances that are energy efficient or have green features are on the rise. Consumers are interested in saving money and the environment without sacrificing performance or quality, says Tjoumakaris.