Tracine Andrus Marroquin, director of marketing for Jacuzzi Luxury Bath, in Chino Hills, CA, says there are opposing technology trends, depending on the generation. Those from Generation X or Y look toward high-tech control systems, while Baby Boomers typically prefer easy-to-use, low-tech control panels, she says.
Size and Placement
When it comes to choosing a jetted tub, space is often an important consideration. Quiet says, “Although our best-selling baths continue to be 72", we have seen a significant increase in requests for 66" and 60" baths in more contemporary designs for metropolitan areas where baths tend to be smaller in size.”
While jetted tubs are most commonly specified for the master bath, high-end consumers often choose to include a second jetted tub elsewhere, she adds. “Many customers specify a larger, more elaborate bath for the master bath and a smaller, more traditional sized whirlpool for [the] guest [bath]. We also see a trend for whirlpool baths being included in one bathroom while an air bath is chosen for secondary baths,” she describes.
Marroquin agrees. “What I see is that whirlpool baths continue to be most popular in master bathrooms. Guest baths and particularly in-law suite bathrooms are also growing in popularity from a remodeling perspective [and a smaller jetted tub may be placed there],” she further adds.
It is notable that size is a factor in the sauna and steam market as well. For instance, Hass points out that the market for steam baths is much larger than that for saunas, and one reason is the space issue. “Most everybody has a shower. It’s relatively easy to convert that to a steam bath by adding a totally enclosed space with a door and piping the steam in. If you’re going to have a sauna, though, [you have to] dedicate a certain amount of square footage and that’s all it will be used for,” he says.
Mitch Altman, CEO of ThermaSol, in Simi Valley, CA, points out, “Sauna sizes haven’t really changed much over the years, but there has been a growth [in the popularity of these pieces in] smaller rooms, particularly in the infrared sauna.”
Hass also currently finds the infrared sauna in higher demand than the traditional sauna, due in part to its portability and the fact that the user can turn it on and go in immediately – which empirically means instant gratification. The infrared also requires only the 120-volt outlet that is already found in the home, as opposed to a 240-volt power outlet that a traditional sauna requires.
Hass points out: “It’s more of a plug-and-play type product. So [you] don’t have to plan for it at all.”
Air or Water?
While jetted tubs have long been popular, there’s some debate over which type of jet – air or water – is better. The general consensus among manufacturers is that the injected air systems or a combination of air and water jets are most popular.
Kornowa says that there are a few reasons behind the popularity of air baths. First, people have become familiar with the water jet technology. “Air baths have gained in popularity because they are a newer technology and it’s something different,” says Kornowa.
The other big reason, according to Kornowa, is that people think air baths are cleaner than whirlpools. However, he doesn’t feel that the reasoning is valid. “The fact of the matter is, they can be, but either a whirlpool or an air bath can be clean or dirty. It depends on how it’s designed, how it’s engineered, and then how the customer uses that engineering,” Kornowa says.
Marroquin notes, “Combination baths continue to grow as a category. They offer choice to the bather, depending on the massage desired on that day. Additionally, combination baths meet the needs of more than one user.”
Quiet adds, “We’re still experiencing growth with air baths, which seem to be more popular with women and teens. It appears, however, that most customers looking for a whirlpool bath are leaning toward combination baths because they are virtually getting two baths in one, each offering different benefits.”