kitchen and bathrooms

Does smarter equal better?

Smart technology and connected homes seem to be the new trend within the kitchen and bathroom industry. Manufacturers and retailers are finding new and innovative ways to create more personalised technology which has a focus on work, leisure, health and relaxation.

fridge 1

In a world where technology is ever-changing and pioneering devices are making a scene across all industries, the kitchen and bathrooms industry is far from being left behind. There are many benefits to switching to ‘smart’ technology. Smart technology can help homes run more efficiently; many lifestyle factors from security, lighting, and heating can now be controlled from a single device providing effective ways to monitor and adjust settings around the house providing comfort at all times.  

 The kitchen is the area of the house where a lot of people spend their time. Beyond a place for cooking, it’s often the central hub of the house, providing a place for family discussions and entertainment. Innovators have found an opportunity to create a ‘kitchen experience’ using smart technology. The 21.5 inch touchscreen on Samsung’s 4 door flex refrigerator was one of the first innovations for kitchens, allowing homeowners to watch videos, play music, write shopping lists, and many more conveniences.

smart fridge

 Smart technology has other benefits such as a positive impact on the environment. Within the bathroom arena, smart technology allows homeowners to control and monitor bathing settings from temperature and lighting all the way to playing music and controlling steam. The ability to have so much control can be put to good use; we can control how much water and energy we are consuming, allowing us to cut down where possible.

However, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding this topic where experts in the industry are questioning how important this shift truly is, and whether consumers buy into smart technology. We find it interesting that there are such polarised views towards the demand for smart technology within the kitchen and bathroom industry. So, is smart technology what the mainstream market is looking for? 

Tim Walace, Editor of KBB Review makes an interesting argument as to whether consumers actually care enough to adopt this change. He mentions that the 35-plus age group that can afford the smart appliances are precisely the people who don’t see the benefit. Many in the industry have similar views, questioning the time it will take for smart technology to become mainstream. Another retailer from the magazine adds “as soon as something seems complicated, people don’t want to buy it” this is often the case when benefits appear “gimmicky” as appose to making life easier, and adding value.

shower 3Further expanding on this, Feng-Zhang, consumer appliance analyst, makes a point of saying “smart appliances will become mainstream, on the basis that inter-connectivity is achieved.” This suggests that the demand for this technology will grow when there are options to connect products from several brands via technology, as appose to products specifically from a particular brand. Feng Zhang implies that “the game will change” once this feature is implemented.

 On the contrary, many experts are excited for the change within the industry. Marco Signa, Connectivity Stategy Senior Manager at Whirlpool, has a positive outlook on smart technology as he explains “we can predict this trend is only going to grow…it’s a big opportunity for retailers as it is for manufacturers.” Steve MacDonald, Marketing Director, further supports Marco in his KBB Review interview, stating “the market is growing and will continue to grow – the opportunities are there.”

The incorporation of smart technology within the industry can have great effects for businesses, as Ashley-Shorey Mills, Smart Home Manager at Hughes Electrical confirms in his interview, sharing his view that many brands will “include smart features, or even be totally smart…so this is a positive for the industry.”

There is clear divide within the industry. Some are questioning the relevancy of smart technology, whilst others are promoting the change as it will bring great business opportunities for retailers and manufacturers.

Research by Design is excited to see how the use of smart technology starts penetrating the mainstream kitchen and bathroom sector, and we are looking forward to exploring some fascinating insight with our clients. 

By Gagan Sarai 
KbbReview, Issue 394,July 2017

This entry was posted in B2B, Technology, tagged Bathrooms, Retail, Insight, Consumer Behaviour and posted on October 6, 2017

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