“The demand for green is there and growing,” comments Darryl Jones, national sales director for KWC America in Norcross, GA. “When the state of California decides to make a change in faucet performance standards, we all must invest in the new technology to deliver that performance.” He notes the latest example is the recently enacted California Green Building Code, or CALGreen, which requires a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute for bath faucets and 1.8 gpm for residential kitchen faucets.
“Introductions and changing legislation (i.e. AB1953, Vermont S152, CalGreen, Georgia Water Stewardship Act) will continue to affect our industry and our business,” adds Mike Bauer, president, U.S. Businesses, Moen Inc. in North Olmsted, OH.
Kitchen and bath designers note that their clients‘ interest in green products is primarily driven by a desire to cut energy costs.
“With growing concerns regarding water and energy conservation, and the need to lower household utility bills, eco-friendly products have quickly become the ‘cost of entry’ for many manufacturers,” comments Werner. He reports that although green plumbing products have proven to be steadfast, green products among other kitchen and bath product segments – such as tiling, surfacing, flooring, heating/cooling, etc. – will also show steady gains in 2012.
“However, green products trying to command a premium are facing the stiff headwind of the overall economy,” he adds.
“The growth segment will be green products, but only if they are priced reasonably,” agrees Marc Nover, president of Blanco, in Lumberton, NJ. “Consumers will only spend for what they perceive to be good value for their money.”
Indeed, Tim Hunt, president of Huntwood Custom Cabinets in Liberty Lake, WA notes, “The segment that will see the largest decline in growth will probably be the expensive ‘gimmick’ green products, ones that are ‘green’ but that have no tangible benefit of use.”
As noted, kitchen and bath dealers and designers are concerned about their profit margins, and their concern about competition from big box stores and online retailers is still strong. Consumers want quality products but often for reduced prices, and will shop to find the best deal.
“One of my biggest challenges will remain getting people through the door,” comments Jonathan Wike, owner, Kitchen & Counter in Niles, OH. “I believe I can satisfy their needs if I can meet them. It’s amazing how many people go to the big box stores, and then comment that they didn’t know we did that type of work.”
Service and products at the right price will be key in 2012, but it is difficult to determine what the right price is.
“Consumers want more for less, and when it comes to the home, their purchases continue to be motivated by practicality,” offers Werner.
Consumers have come out of the recession more vigilant about finding products that will serve their design and performance needs for years to come, according to Nick Ord, president of Miele USA in Princeton, NJ. “More than just price, value exemplifies performance, flexibility and longevity. Also key, especially for kitchen improvements, is how these purchases will improve the quality of time spent in the home.”
“The high-end market is looking for value-added product,” agrees Bertrand Charest, president of ThinkGlass in Boisbriand, QC. “The market is swamped with standard products, and clients are asking for the new and rich product.”
“In 2012, value-add products that deliver style with substance and sustainability will take center stage,” believes Rob Kass, chief marketing officer at Elkay in Oak Brook, IL.
“High-performing and sustainable products with value-added properties will certainly be the most regarded by consumers in 2012,” agrees Lorenzo Marquez, v.p. of marketing, Cosentino North America in Stafford, TX.
“The growing presence of design and interest in convenience features will continue to impact the market in coming years,” believes Doug Beaudet, global director, Experience Design, Global Consumer Design, for Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, MI. “Focusing on ‘experience design,’ or emotional and sensorial aspects of the design, is key.”
“The trend toward better-quality product choices may not be hot, trendy or sexy, but it is consistently increasing its part in the overall consumer shift and will be a boost to our industry in 2012,” stresses Fey.