Demand is now soaring for all kinds of hygienic, easy-to-clean bathroom solutions, but that hasn't always been the case.
“Cleanability and hygiene are historically probably the most undersold buying criteria in bathroom products,” says Roman Showers MD David Osborne. “Every time there is good consumer research, cleanability always comes out as a key purchasing consideration, yet it never seems to get the industry airtime it deserves.” In the wake of Covid-19, however, that certainly seems to have changed. Optimising hygiene in the home has never been more important and inevitably, consumers are now increasingly looking to invest in bathroom products that help to reduce the spread of germs.
“Since the start of the pandemic and throughout lockdown, Armitage Shanks has seen an uplift in sales in some key areas such as our Sensorflow 21 touchless taps and flush plates,” says the brand’s sector marketing manager Tony Rheinberg.
And Armitage Shanks is not alone, with companies including Toto, JT and Hi-Macs all reporting growing demand for bathroom products that provide consumers with a more hygienic solution.
VitrA, says marketing manager Margaret Talbot, “has a long history with hygiene, which has put us in a solid position during the pandemic”, and the brand's Smart Panel Flush Plate can be synched to a smart device via the company's app to allow users to flush remotely without any need to touch.
While shower toilets, self-closing WC seats, which can limit aerosol spray, sensor-operated taps and lighting, and materials designed to minimise the spread of germs and bacteria have been on the market for some time, their full potential is only just being realised by consumers says Grohe’s marketing director Raj Mistry. “The shift in consumer needs has brought these existing product categories front of mind.” Grohe’s touch-free Bau Cosmo E infra-red taps are activated by a sensor, which registers when hands are approaching.
Products with improved sanitation solutions are even more important in multigenerational households points out HiB’s sales director Ash Chilver as the “age range of inhabitants could include those that are classed as vulnerable”. The LED lighting on HiB's Air 40 illuminated mirror is activated by wave sensors while the heated pad helps prevent condensation, which also reduces the need to touch the mirror’s surface.
Antimicrobial materials such as copper and silver are becoming an ever more appealing choice for consumers. “We have already started to see an unprecedented demand for our copper boat baths and basins and we expect demand to continue,” says Barrie Cutchie, design and marketing director at BC Designs. The boat bath has a nickel interior and is made from copper, which is said to kill viruses and germs within hours.
With the effects of the pandemic set to be felt throughout the world for the foreseeable future, hygiene, it seems, will remain a hot topic in all areas of the home for many years to come. "Hygiene is at the heart of everything we do," says Geberit's consumer marketing manager Holly Aspinall. “But it is the bathroom, which is used frequently by all members of the household as well as guests, where hygiene-optimised innovations and cutting-edge technologies will be most sought after,” she concludes. The brand’s AquaClean Mera shower toilet has an automatic lifting lid and sensor-activated flushing so no touching is necessary at all.