A few months after rejoining Zip Water UK after nearly a decade away, Nick Taylor tells Nicola Hanley why now is the right time to increase the HydroTap manufacturer’s share in the residential sector.
In August this year, Zip Water UK announced the return of Nick Taylor to the company as the former head of sales took up the role of head of residential sales. A lot had changed in the time he had been away and his appointment marked the brand’s intent to become more competitive in the residential sector.
“When I worked with Zip previously, it really was more of a workplace brand and the product maybe didn’t have quite the aesthetics that interior designers were looking for in the home,” says Taylor. “As much as I loved the styling of the HydroTap, a lot of the designers I presented the tap to in the early 2000s did feel it looked a bit commercial. Since then the tap’s style has greatly improved and it now has all the aesthetics that the homeowner is looking for and it’s now a very stylish tap.”
Founded in Australia in 1947, Zip Water initially specialised in water heaters for sinks and baths before expanding into drinking water. It established a base in the UK in 1991 and launched the first HydroTap in 2004, followed by the ‘world’s first’ boiling, chilled and sparkling water tap eight years later. Since then, new, design-led finishes have been introduced, including brushed gold and matt black, and in 2017, the business was acquired by water treatment specialist Culligan International.
“In the 9 years that I’ve been away, the business has grown rapidly and fantastically but mainly in the workplace and I think the residential opportunities have been neglected. And that’s what we’re going to change now. I think Zip is a sleeping giant.”
As well as having the right product in place now, Zip also has the infrastructure, Taylor believes, directly employing 100 UK-wide engineers, who provide agile customer support. “The reassurance of the infrastructure that we have behind the product is really important,” he says.
Taylor also notes the inroads that other, leading boiling hot water tap brands such as Quooker have made in the UK residential market. "It feels like the market has been created for us,” he says. “We know we have a price point that is a little bit of an upsell compared to the budget boiling tap brands but we think luxury retailers are seeing these alternatives in budget dealers like Wren and Howdens and want something they can call their own.”
He acknowledges that increasing Zip’s share in the residential sector isn’t going to be easy. “The consumer is always looking for cheaper alternatives and there are plenty out there,” he says. “But I don’t think there’s anywhere near the choice in the higher end and that’s why I think it’s a good opportunity for us.”
Ensuring that retailers understand what the upsell is with the Zip product is another challenge but once a consumer has tried a Zip product, whether in the workplace or the showroom, the USPs are clear, says Taylor. “With Zip, you get temperature-controlled water from the first thimble full. With every other brand, you have to run the water off to empty the spout. It’s not a great message in terms of water saving.”
Zip’s award-winning HydroTap range now includes 7 designs, which come in a choice of 7 finishes, with WRAS approval and with 100% recyclable packaging as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
According to Taylor, at the premium end of the market, consumers are increasingly installing multiple boiling water taps in different zones within the kitchen and also in other rooms of the house, from home gyms and games rooms to bedrooms. “High-end retailers are putting multiple boiling water taps in a house. It is a luxury but it is a significant, growing trend as designers tend to put boiling water taps away from the sink. And we think we’re the leaders in that, however, if there’s a shortage of space, we do an at-the-sink version.”
Zip’s biggest competitor, says Taylor, remains the kettle but he believes this will change and having one or more boiling water taps will become the norm. “Having a boiling water tap in the home is where dishwashers were a few years ago,” he says. “We just think the market is going to grow and grow and those people that are resisting now will have one in the future.”