Sales of hot taps are booming, and products on the market are rapidly evolving to offer consumers ever increasing functionality and convenience – we talk to the experts about the latest trends, and round up all the new launches. By Emma Hedges.
A year at home has taught us to appreciate many things, but it seems that one thing in particular that homeowners have learned is to love the hot tap. But according to Stephen Johnson, MD at Quooker UK, consumers were already falling for the product's capabilities before COVID, and this appreciation shows no sign of slowing down. "The demand for instant boiling water taps has increased hugely over the past few years. Quooker sales grew by 40% in 2020 and we are currently showing an 100% increase YTD for 2021," he explains.
But with this surge in demand, the pressure is on for brands to differentiate themselves and offer more. "The market for hot water taps has become more and more saturated in the last few years and so it is now down to brands to establish themselves as market-leading by supplementing these designs with additional unique features that provide resolutions to customer pain-points," says Elina Enqvist-Twomey, leader category for Grohe in the UK. "Sustainability and management of resource is an area of increasing interest for end users. Consumers want the premium performance delivered to them but not at a greater expense or to the detriment of the environment," she says.
"One key consideration is that it’s not only steaming hot water on offer with these products," says Leanne Adamson, marketing manager for Abode. "There are an ever-growing array of designs now available with filtered cold water functionality integrated within the one product also. For a slightly higher investment consumers can enjoy filtered cold water on tap as well, improving the quality, taste and odour of tap water."
So how should retailers make sure they convey all the latest functionality on offer to their customers? "The best way for the retailer to benefit from an InSinkErator specialist kitchen tap is to install the appliance, demonstrating to each and every potential customer the huge benefits, both as a modern, time-saving convenience and an opportunity to de-clutter the kitchen," says InSinkErator UK sales director, Kevin Carr. "Specialist kitchen taps can be displayed and demonstrated with ease in a showroom and with the increasing choice in finishes available, such as our award-winning Brushed Gold L Shape 3N1, a specialist kitchen tap can add a striking focal point and attract attention to any area in the showroom."
"We have experienced a tremendous increase in sales of drink systems, including boiling water taps, since the start of the pandemic as customers have spent more time at home," says Ian Sanders, product manager for Blanco UK. "Consumers are looking for visualisation; to imagine how it would look in their kitchen. The showrooms which have a working sample, together with a sink, will benefit most from the increased consumer interest in the sector."
"At the end of 2020, we launched the EVOL-S Pro, a 4-in-1 tap with filtered cold and true-100-degree water, which features a unique measuring function so that an exact amount of either filtered boiling or filtered cold water is dispensed," says Sanders. "Of course, demonstrations in the showroom are key here. Videos help, but these taps really need to be touched and tried."
But if installing a hot tap for display purposes isn't possible, there are alternatives. "Having a working tap model in the showroom may not always be an option for retailers but it’s very feasible to have a large wall-mounted screen on which to play demonstration videos and talk through the merits of products or to incorporate videos into customer presentations," says Jo Rawstron, sales and marketing director for Franke UK. "Over the past year, consumers have been embracing online shopping and virtual shop assistance more than ever, and this gives retailers a new option of using digital sales techniques, such as product demonstration videos, to showcase a product’s design and functionality to their customers, either remotely or within the showroom."
"One way we help our retailers is through our POS material for each showroom. Rather than providing one fixed display, we work with each dealer to build bespoke displays that work for them, investing in co-branded material that suits the individual space," says Quooker's Stephen Johnson. "COVID has certainly heightened the need for the relationship between brand and retailer to be explored and better understood. While the relationship is complex, it is a crucial one to get right. Our business success or failure is determined by our ability to build and strengthen relationships with our dealers," he concludes.