Survey Examines Consumer Kitchen Purchases

CHARLOTTE, NC — The importance of brand names among kitchen and bath consumers varies widely from product to product, as do consumer shopping patterns and the influence of kitchen and bath professionals on the decision-making process.

That is the key finding of a major new survey conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), an independent organization of manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and publications whose revenues come from sales-related kitchen activities, including kitchen remodeling.

The survey, whose results were released to Kitchen & Bath Design News in mid-March, is the latest in a series of studies RICKI conducted. Called “BrandBuzz,” the survey was conducted among 1,927 American consumers ages 25-64 who recently purchased in one or more of seven product categories for their kitchens, according to RICKI spokesperson Erin Gallagher.

The goal of BrandBuzz, Gallagher said, was to determine brand preference, loyalty and satisfaction – and to develop brand “personality” profiles. The online survey was conducted by IMR Research Group along with StartSampling Inc., RICKI’s research partners.

According to RICKI, product categories measured included cabinets, countertops, dishwashers, faucets, flooring, range/oven/cooktops and refrigerators. In the survey, consumers were asked to describe their experiences with 116 kitchen product brands. While most of the findings are proprietary (available for purchase through RICKI), some of the findings are less sensitive.

Some highlights from the BrandBuzz study include:

  • As American kitchen design evolves to accommodate family activities, consumers are purchasing organizational products such as pull-out drawers to multi-tasking work stations. They are also purchasing unique, stylish items and products that are innovative, such as hands-free faucets. Faucets are the number-one item survey participants purchased in the past year, with close to half (46%) purchasing at least one faucet, followed by refrigerators (34%) and flooring (28%).
  • Consumers shop around more for certain kitchen products than they do for others. “One might assume that shoppers explore a wider variety of brands when they are in the market for big-ticket items compared to lower-priced items,” Gallagher observed. “The consideration set is wider for appliances and faucets than for higher-ticket items such as cabinets, countertops and flooring.”
  • The reasons certain brands are selected above all others differ greatly from product to product. “Brand name and brand reputation are key drivers in the selection of appliances,” Gallagher commented. “Consumers also specifically look for the best price and special product features when buying refrigerators, while dishwasher buyers are significantly more likely than average to be concerned with price. ”

Reflecting the industry popular wisdom, brand name “is not nearly as important to consumers” when choosing faucets, countertops, cabinets and flooring, she added.

The selection of these products is driven in part by the recommendations of expert designers and trusted product specifiers, she noted. “Likelihood of recommending” is a key measure for assessing brand satisfaction and loyalty. “More purchasers say they are likely to recommend the brand of appliance they purchased,” Gallagher commented. “Purchasers of flooring, cabinets, faucets and countertops are less likely to recommend the brand they bought, suggesting a less brand loyal group of consumers.”