Here you will find the latest trends, analysis and insight affecting the UK bathroom market. Our intelligence comes from the world’s leading authorities and our own team of experts, exploring everything from product trends and consumer behaviour to the impact of social, economic and environmental megatrends. Our updates and reports are designed to give you a clear understanding of where your market is heading and enable you to steer your business accordingly.
Over the last few years, Wellness has become a word many have heard all too much. It is something we see on social media, on the news, and in magazines, and is now a word hard to escape from.
With various industries across the spectrum capitalising on it, a look into what Wellness really is, and what it can do for us, is long overdue. Holiday companies are selling out of mindfulness and yoga retreats, health-food accounts on Instagram are monopolising the web, and spa treatments are more popular than ever.
Seeking out experiences rather than purchasing more stuff has been a trend lurking in the corners of psychology for the last few years.
Research in 2014 by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor from the University of Cornell, concluding that “experiences are the glue of our social lives”, mattering much more than the latest i-gadget.
Why do experiences matter?
Experiential purchases enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods
Experiential purchases form a bigger part of a person’s identity
Experiential purchases are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases.
Studies also suggest that the anticipation of an experience is also crucial. Thomas Gilovich’s research showed that people reported being mostly frustrated before the planned purchase of a ‘thing’, but mostly happy before they bought an ‘experience’.
As that happy feeling is tied up with a memory, it lingers longer. Colin Strong, head of behavioural science at market research group Ispos, calls it the ‘hedonic adaption’, claiming that the hedonic payoff of experiences is much greater than material purchases.
The Experience Consumer
We are now seeing how this trend is affecting our spending habits and the way we consume, such as a 55% increase in ticket sales to events and live experiences, as research by the world’s largest event technology platform, Eventbrite, found.
And according to Barclaycard, which processes about half of all Britain’s credit and debit card transactions, their figures for April 17 show a 20% increase in spending in pubs compared with the same month last year. Spending in restaurants went up 16%, while theatres and cinemas enjoyed a 13% rise. Meanwhile, department stores suffered a 1% drop, vehicle sales were down 11% and spending on household appliances fell by 2.5%
Clothes retailer Next claim their first fall in profits in eight years is due to the experience economy, and Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, is of the opinion that consumption of many goods has reached a limit, referring to this limit as hitting ‘peak stuff’
Building a Brand Experience
Fuelled by social media, the experience economy is a trend that will continue to grow. Instagram accounts used to be about our new car, handbag or pair of shoes, but now that seems slightly vulgar compared to our friend’s yoga holiday or sky-diving weekend.
Building a product brand that taps into the experience economy involves going beyond a ‘sell and forget’ mentality. When Meile launched their revolutionary steam oven, they also developed a set of cookery courses for their steam oven customers. After completing a hands-on steam oven cookery session, attendees proudly tweet, instagram and facebook the results to all their contacts, turning them into a very effective sales force for Meile, without even a mention of a Meile product.
The over-55s are an important and growing segment of the new-build housing market. In their report ‘Moving Insights from the Over-55’s‘, The NHBC Foundation looks at the reasons why the over-55’s move and the types of homes they buy.
The research is based on a sample of almost 1,500 homeowners aged over 55 who moved to their current new-build home between 2010 and 2016.
While equity release is a key motive for some, 46% of those surveyed invested more money in their home when making the move, and just under a third upsized to a home with more bedrooms. At the same time, hidden deeper in the evidence, is a strong demand for two-bedroom homes among those choosing to downsize.
Overall, a large proportion of households (40%) in this study moved either down or up to a four-bedroom home, making this the most common home size purchased by the over-55s. The findings challenge the assumption that older home owners normally downsize to smaller properties, and instead highlight a diversity of moves: in terms of size (bedroom numbers) 39% of households downsized, many upsized (28%) and a third same-sized (33%).
While much of the evidence reveals a wide range of different motivations among the over-55s thinking of moving home, some key themes emerge with important implications for house builders. Older purchasers considering downsizing are about 20% more likely to choose a new-build home, and are particularly attracted by the prospect of living in a home which is easier to manage and enjoys lower maintenance and running costs, manageable gardens and a new home warranty – features which are high priorities for this age group.
Although new-build homes are particularly appealing to the over-55s, the report finds that they often feel that new build marketing is directed at families or young people and argues that more should be done to reflect the needs of older home buyers in this sector. There is a strong antipathy among those aged 55 to 75 to being described as ‘old’ and there are important lessons to be learnt for marketing to this age group.
The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 to provide high-quality research and practical guidance to support the house-building industry as it addresses the challenges of delivering 21st-century new homes.
As part of the London Design Week, a collaboration between the car brand Mini and architect Sam Jacob attempts to answer the question of how much living space we really need with the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin.
MINI created the Urban Cabin as part of its ongoing MINI Living project, which is exploring new forms of urban living. Designed for a future when homes become a shared resource and with modern city living in mind, the Urban Cabin demonstrates how to maximise your living space on a small urban footprint, applying creativity and innovation to a limited space. Although limitation can have a negative connotation when it forces us to do without the things we believe we need, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin offsets this by showing that it is simply a matter of creatively exploring possibilities.
At just 15 sqm, the Urban Cabin is a compact micro-house demonstrating clever alternatives to space-saving. Externally, the design is inspired by London’s rich history of geometric facades, emulating the surrounding architecture by reflecting them back with mirrored surfaces
Inside the imaginative space is a homage to British eccentricity and houses an innovative blend of areas for social gatherings alongside space to take stock and have moments of calm and privacy.
Equipped with a shared kitchen and micro-library, the miniature space is intended to foster communal exchanges. The kitchen for example has been created with London’s food markets in mind, aiming to bring their culture and diversity into the home, whilst the micro-library suggests the importance of preserving public spaces for people to read.
White materials are predominantly used to create a light and airy feel, combined with modern touches. And the whole space has been designed with versatility in mind, for example the table can spontaneously be moved outside to take advantage of warmer weather.
The Urban Cabin is the latest in a series of structures that MINI has built as part of MINI Living. The first was an installation at Milan design week in 2016, which also explored the idea of shared living spaces.
Sleep, Europe’s hospitality design and development event, is the place to be if you have a passion for creating innovative hotels, restaurants and bars – or if you want to spot the trends and new collections that will be crossing over into domestic interiors.
The 2017 show was no exception, and Trend Monitor joined the record number of visitors at The Business Design Centre in London in November to get an insight into the key looks of 2018.
Design Trend #1. Tactile times
Taps have tended to be smooth for the simple reason that we need to keep them clean. But, if you read our report from ISH 2017 , you’ll already know that smooth is giving way to decorative patterns, creating tactile brassware that has the power to elevate even the plainest of bathrooms.
Geometric patterns have a timeless appeal, so it’s not surprising that we’re now seeing them in the bathroom. Leading the way at Sleep was interior designer Jo Love, who’s collaborated with British brassware manufacturer Vado to create the Omika collection of taps, showers and accessories. These flirt with texture to great effect – think strong clean lines, a slim minimalist silhouette and a delicate geometric pattern.
Texture has also captured the imagination of Italian manufacturers. Stella 1882 has incorporated guilloche, a decorative engraving technique based on intricate patterns, into the surface of its taps. There’s a choice of 12 patterns, available in any Stella finish.
The guilloche finish by Stella 1882 is hand-engraved by craftsmen at its workshop in Milan.
It was good to see luxury French bathroom brand THG Paris step outside its comfort zone with Collection Bain, its first sanitaryware collection since the brand was established in 1956.
THG’s small stand at Sleep could only accommodate a freestanding bath, but the full collection includes different styles of bath and a series of basins and shower trays, all created to complement its handcrafted tap fittings. THG’s material of choice is MineralStone, a composite material containing natural mineral fillers and reinforced resins that create strong, easy-to-clean pieces.
Selecting a look for your bathroom has become a question of taste now that so many sanitaryware producers have set up customised production departments. THG is among them, offering its Collection Bain as made-to measure to individuals as well as hotel chains.
Collection Bain is the debut sanitaryware collection by bathroom fittings specialist THG Paris.
Brassware manufacturer Grohe is also looking to broaden its appeal with the launch of Bau, its first-ever ceramics range. Developed following research that found customers struggle to match a washbasin with a mixer, Bau is designed to address the problem head-on by complementing Grohe’s Bau mixer collection.
Grohe has dipped its toe into the ceramics market with Bau, its first sanitaryware collection.
‘The thinner the better’ seems to be the mantra of modern sanitaryware – as seen in the use of cutting-edge materials that allow manufacturers to reduce rim width on basins and baths without compromising strength.
Previously, fine edges wouldn’t have survived the firing process, but materials such as Cerafine, seen in VitrA’s Outline collection of ultra-fine countertop basins, mean that manufacturers can now create slim, elegant shapes with defined edges.
The advantage of these slim rims is more than sleek good looks. It means that the modern basin can hold more water than its bulky predecessor, making it a practical addition to the bathroom.
Manufacturers continue to stress the relationship between their products and the primary function of the bathroom: hygiene. For example, VitrA basins are coated with VitrA Clean surface finish to keep them easy to clean with just a mild detergent and a damp cloth.
These ultra-fine countertop basins from VitrA’s Outline collection are manufactured from Cerafine, a new material that’s both strong and elegant.
VitrA isn’t the only manufacturer looking to slim down. Since the launch of SaphirKeramik in 2013, Swiss manufacturer Laufen has worked with numerous designers on products for a variety of collections.
For those not in the know, SaphirKeramik is a hard and rigid ceramic material that can be sued to create super-thin but extremely robust ceramic walls. These can be as narrow as 2mm (traditional ceramic measures between 7 to 8mm).
Laufen’s third and latest collaboration is with Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, who has used SaphirKeramik to create her Sonar range (launched at ISH 2017). Although Sonar was not on display at Sleep, SaphirKeramik was well represented by existing products from Konstantin Grcic’s Val collection.
The internationally acclaimed German designer Konstantin Grcic worked with Laufen’s SaphirKeramik to produce Val.
You know when a trend has truly arrived when the world’s biggest sanitaryware brands sit up and take notice. Cue Japanese-style washlets, which have spent years lurking on the periphery of the UK bathroom, possibly because their spacecraft-style looks tend to intimidate the conservative-minded British consumer.
Realising the key to success was to redesign the washlet to look like a regular WC, Laufen set about developing Cleanet Riva, defined by a streamlined aesthetic but packed full of high-end engineering.
At the heart of Cleanet Riva is the shower function, which is operated using the button located on the side of the WC bowl or via a touchscreen remote control. This also provides additional settings and personal preferences, including a choice of various spray modes, based on pressure, temperature and timing.
Laufen’s Cleanet Riva boasts various spray modes that can be personalised by pressure, temperature and timing.
Our post-ISH report touched on the growing influence of multi-generational households on bathroom design, and how manufacturers are now creating products that are accessible to all the family.
Hansgrohe’s understated Unica Comfort shower bar is just one example. Doubling as a sturdy grab handle for those less steady on their feet, it can support up to 200kg in weight. The hand shower can be easily positioned at the desired height using just one hand, and an additional hand shower holder at the lower end of the bar is ideal for children, wheelchair users and those who like to shower sitting down. A detachable shower caddy provides the finishing flourish, creating essential space for toiletries.
A shower bar or a convenient grab handle with integrated shower caddy for toiletries, the Unica Comfort by Hansgrohe is ideal for multigenerational households.
You can’t fail to have noticed the wide range of brassware colour options now available, including bronze, brass, rose and brushed gold, copper and matt black. These aren’t exclusive to brassware either, with designers keen for other elements of the bathroom to match up in the style stakes.
VitrA has collaborated with product designer Sebastian Conran to create a new bathroom accessory collection aimed at both domestic and luxury hotel markets. The Eternity collection comprises 31 products that combine luxury with practicality, including a toothbrush holder that incorporates a removable strainer so that toothbrushes don’t languish in stale water, and robe hooks designed not to leave pinch marks in collars and necks. Within the range there are three finish options: white with chrome, black with chrome and black with gold. All have hardwearing teak wood accents.
VitrA has teamed up with product designer Sebastian Conran to create Eternity, a new bathroom accessory collection for domestic and hotel bathrooms.
Nearly 7% of UK households are multigenerational, the equivalent of 1.8 million households, and yet in the UK this concept is not well-understood and there has been little development of new home designs to suit the needs of families that would like to live in a multigenerational household.
Households are defined as multigenerational where there are three or more generations of the same family living together, or two generations of the same family living together, consisting of parents and one or more adult children (over the age of 25), or two generations of the same family living together consisting of one or more adult children (typically middle aged) and their elderly parent(s)
Multigenerational living was also discussed with a range of house builders to understand their perspective on this market, in terms of their perception of both opportunity and risk.
The research provides evidence that challenges some myths about multigenerational living in the UK and suggests that it is not just ethnic minority families who choose to live in multigenerational households, it is not just a response to care needs or housing affordability problems and it is not just about living in properties with annexes.
The number of multigenerational households in the UK has been increasing, driven by greater numbers of adult children (aged 25 or over) living in the parental home.
Four out of five multigenerational households in the UK are White British, although some ethnic groups (predominantly Asian families) are more likely than White British people to live in multigenerational households.
Multigenerational households tend not to be large and typically much smaller than often portrayed. Approximately one-quarter of households with grandparent(s) present contain three people, just over 20% contain four people and a similar proportion contain five people. Two-adult-generation households are generally smaller and are most likely to comprise just three people. Average-sized homes with little or no modification may therefore provide satisfactory accommodation for many multigenerational households
Multigenerational households are most likely to live in three- or four-bedroom homes that they own, and the households, in general, are not living in poverty.
Multigenerational households predominantly live in ‘standard’ properties, and not all have annexes or extensions to accommodate household members separately
Requirements for Multigenerational Living
The research showed that, in terms of the design and use of space in the home, privacy is important but so is the ability to flexibly use any ‘additional’ space. The best model included some shared spaces, open-plan dining and
an element of private space. For example, there needs to be space for interaction, such as family meals, but some privacy, such as separate rooms to entertain guests or watch television.
A limited number of bathrooms can cause tensions if everyone needs to be ready at the same time of day, so en-suites or multiple bathrooms were welcomed.
The flexibility to adapt properties over time to suit different family arrangements was welcomed. Such future-proofing might, for example, enable easy adaptation of a downstairs room (with access to a WC) into a bedroom.
Adaping New-Build House Designs for Multigenerational Households
A design review by The NHBC Foundation identified various existing common new-build house designs that are suitable for multigenerational households, or which could easily be adapted to be so.
Suitable without change
These are typically designs in which one or two bedrooms and a bathroom form a relatively separate suite of rooms on its own floor (typically the top floor of a three-storey house). These house types offer the possibility of immediate use of this suite of rooms, either by an elderly relative or by adult children, without any alteration or conversion of the existing plan.
Adjustment of existing plan layout
The second type of newbuild design identified by the review comprises houses in which the original plan offers a particularly large double bedroom, usually with an ensuite bathroom, often located above a double garage or a ground floor wing. In these cases the layout can often be changed to provide a self-contained space with a living room, double bedroom and ensuite bathroom, plus the option of a kitchenette.
Opportunity to extend
These are houses which offer the opportunity to provide a separate self-contained extension to the original house. Such homes might be marketed either with planning consent and designed to comply with Building Regulations, leaving the purchaser to engage a contactor to carry out the work, or as an ‘off plan’ option in which the house builder would complete the extension as part of the main work.
Where the existing ground-floor plan has a large bedroom or family room, this may be suitable for conversion into a self-contained living area with its own entrance.
The bathroom fitter influences the type and brand of bathroom products purchased for a third of all new bathroom installations, according to the latest research into bathroom purchase behaviour.
The research shows that consumer behaviour is changing in the bathroom market; the bathroom buying journey is becoming even longer with customers turning more to online sources of inspiration as they research their bathroom more than six months in advance of making a purchase.
Compared with a year ago, 46% more people are researching via e-commerce websites for lower-budget bathrooms and 45% more people are researching via online inspiration websites for higher-budget bathrooms.
As the instalment date draws closer, the bathroom fitter becomes highly influential, not only recommending exactly the type and brand of fixtures and fittings to purchase for 27% of bathrooms, but even going so far as to purchase all fixtures and fittings without prior consultation with the homeowner for a further 6% of bathrooms.
The research by home improvement trend experts, Trend-Monitor, was carried out in partnership with online bathroom platform, Foam & Bubbles, and surveyed over 1200 UK bathroom buyers.
“By collaborating with Foam & Bubbles we were able use their wide community of homeowners as our research panel and engage with people who had recently installed a whole bathroom, or who were actively planning a new bathroom installation. This has allowed us to obtain quality feedback and high-level insights into the purchase process” says Jane Blakeborough, Research Director at Trend-Monitor.
This latest bathroom industry report investigates the purchase of a new complete bathroom and the key influences on consumers as they progress through the purchase process, such as budget, family circumstances, brand awareness, research methods and advice sources. The report reveals how and where consumers research prior to purchase, how they choose their suppliers, how they plan and design their new bathroom, how they find a bathroom fitter, and much more.
Click on the report image to find out more …
Foam & Bubbles brand partners have access to this report as part of their partnership package with Foam & Bubbles. Find out more about becoming a Foam & Bubbles brand partner at http://bit.ly/2x5aTGn
This bathroom industry report investigates the purchase of a new complete bathroom and the key influences on consumers as they progress through the purchase process, such as budget, family circumstances, brand awareness, research methods and advice sources. The report reveals how consumers choose their suppliers, how they plan and design their new bathroom and how they find a bathroom fitter.
The report has had the benefit of a 1285-strong respondent base which was accessed via a collaboration with the online bathroom inspiration platform Foam & Bubbles. The respondents, all UK consumer-homeowners, have all recently fitted a complete new bathroom, or are actively planning a complete new bathroom for installation in the near future, resulting in a highly-engaged survey audience.
“Direct access to people who are actively engaged in the purchase of a new bathroom has enabled Trend-Monitor to obtain high-level insights into the purchase process. The result is an invaluable resource for bathroom brands, bathroom retailers and industry professionals, providing a focus and structure for new product development and customer engagement programmes”. Jane Blakeborough, Research Director, Trend-Monitor Ltd
“This report will allow bathroom brands and other interested parties to have a deeper and more insightful knowledge of the bathroom purchase and replacement processes, outlining motivations and demographic patterns, with the result that we will have a deeper understanding of the way consumers refurbish their bathrooms today – and in the future”. Avinash Doshi, Founder and CEO, Foam & Bubbles
Brand awareness within the bathroom market remains low, clearly illustrated by the 90% of survey respondents who were unable to name any of the brands they had used or were planning to use in their new bathroom. Brand awareness does however increase slightly as the bathroom budget increases to the point where more research is done online, and more purchases are made via local bathroom showrooms instead of DIY and retail chains.
Research prior to purchase continues to move online over the past year with 45% more people researching via online bathroom inspiration websites, in particular for the higher-budget bathrooms. 46% more people are researching via e-commerce websites and these tend to be focused on the lower-budget bathrooms.
The design services offered by bathroom retailers and installers have a relatively low uptake with a third of homeowners choosing to plan their new bathroom themselves and a further 29% of new bathrooms keeping the same layout as before.
Interestingly 24% of those homeowners who plan their own bathroom choose to do so on paper, compared to only 10% who use an online design tool.
Water saving features have recently increased in importance within the bathroom purchase process. This is shown by people currently in the planning stage of their bathroom installation being twice as likely to consider water-saving features to be important when purchasing a bathroom product than those who have already installed their bathroom.
The influence of the bathroom fitter on the modern-day bathroom is evident throughout the whole bathroom installation process, however consumers sourcing a bathroom fitter for their new bathroom are still doing it the traditional way – by personal recommendation. Bathroom fitters are over twice as likely to be appointed based on a recommendation from a family member or friend than any other sourcing method.
Contents Key Findings
About the Survey Respondents
UK Bathroom Market Overview
Section One: Motivating Factors
Section Two: Research Prior Purchase
Section Three: Design and Planning
Section Four: Personalising the Bathroom
Section Five: Brand Awareness
Section Six: Water Saving in the Bathroom
Section Seven: Choice of Purchase Outlet
Section Eight: The Influence of the Bathroom Fitter
Section Nine: Bathroom Style
Section Ten: How we use our Bathrooms
Appendix one: Methodology
Foam & Bubbles brand partners have access to this report as part of their partnership agreement with Foam & Bubbles