Category Archives: News And Views

Press Release: The Influence of the Bathroom Fitter

Trend-Monitor Press Release

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 …

Bathroom Purchase Behaviour Consumer Insight

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

Download this press release as a pdf here

B & K Business Conference 2017

B & K Business conference 2017 logo

We are delighted to announce that our Research Director, Jane Blakeborough, has been invited to speak at this year’s annual B & K Business Conference in October.

The conference theme will be ‘Turning Change into Opportunity’ and Jane will be discussing the cultural, demographic and wider consumer trends that will shape the future of the KBB industry.

This well respected conference for the bathroom and kitchen industries will be held on Tuesday 17 October 2017 at The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Sutton Coldfield.

The conference brings together key people from bathroom and kitchen businesses and has, over the last decade, seen delegate numbers grow to over 240. Following on from the success of the invitation to the kitchen industry to attend, delegate numbers will grow this year to 300.  Attended by senior industry decision makers, the conference offers a unique opportunity for manufacturers, merchants, distributors, retailers, architects, designers and the media to discuss and influence the industry’s development.

In addition, the conference provides an excellent platform to hear from leading experts in their field, on topics relevant to businesses in the UK bathroom and kitchen industries such as :

  • Leaving the EU – what are the possible consequences for manufacturers?
  • The changing buying habits of the consumer
  • Demographics & culture shifts – how will they influence future designs of products and homes?
  • Compliant product or not!  Current legislative frameworks are over stretched and often do not work effectively.  How can legitimate companies compete on an uneven playing field?
  • The Bonfield Report – Each Home Counts (Download report here).  What consumer advice and protection is available to ensure standards are monitored & enforced to keep their homes safe?

Full details can be found at




Consumer Attitudes to the Connected Home

kbbreview connected home special

In this month’s kbbreview, our research director Jane Blakeborough is asked about consumer attitudes to the connected home, what may be holding them back and how KBB retailers can make smart tech more relevant to their consumers.

Read the full interview below or visit the kbbreview website to read here

Q: Is the connected home really the future, or as many in the KBB industry suggest, is it just a gimmick?

A: For entertainment, energy management and security, the connected home is now a key trend.  And the reason these areas are leading the way is because they offer a tangible benefit to the home owner in terms of convenience, money-saving or greater piece of mind.

Until the KBB industry starts to really understand how people live in their homes and the trends that affect how homes will be used now and in the future, they will struggle to convince consumers that their products offer similar benefits, and smart appliances will continue to be regarded as gimmicky by most homeowners.

Although the technology is improving and the pricing is stabilising, the main barrier remains the indifference to KBB ‘smart’ devices and appliances.  Consumers simply don’t ask for them or understand the relevant to their own homes

Trend-Monitor’s recent research into kitchen purchase behaviour found that, although the inclusion of a smart kitchen appliance when purchasing a complete new kitchen had increased significantly over the 3-year research time-frame, this was from a very low base.  And 35% of those homeowners who didn’t have any smart kitchen appliances said they didn’t think the technology was relevant for their own kitchen, with a further 23% unaware that the technology was available.

Q: How can retailers make the most of the connected-home market and best sell these products?

A growing trend within retailing is to create an ‘experience’ for the customer.  Apple and Samsung are both technology brands that do this particularly well.  Instead of focusing on sales, they allow the customer to experience their products with the help of knowledgeable store assistants.

Reacting to an uplift in searches for smart-home products on its website, last year John Lewis set aside 1,000 sq ft of floor space in its London Oxford Street store dedicated solely to smart home technology, with plans to roll this out across their other stores.   The area has four interactive zones focusing on kitchen, entertainment, sleep and home monitoring, demonstrating to customers how technology can be used to control their homes through their smart device.

Creating this interactive real-home environment helps consumers to understand how smart technology can make their lives by saving time and effort.

Q: Isn’t there a lot more to creating a true smart-home concept than just having smart appliances in your kitchen?

A:  A true smart-home is one which has a holistic and integrated approach, enabling the different devices to communicate with each other, interact instinctively with the homeowner and provide intelligence regarding expenditure and consumption.

Until now one of the major barriers to creating a true smart-home was the lack of a secure, standardised operating system for the home which brands can build on.  Now companies such as Gideon are entering the market with their ‘smart home in a single app’ concept, allowing all devices to be controlled via one tablet or smart phone.

Q:  Is it aimed at all sectors or are we still waiting for it to filter down?

A:  The smart home is still very much in its infancy and currently positioned at the luxury end of the market.   Whilst low ownership of these devices is unlikely to change in the next 12 months, interest in the automated home is growing.  Growth is likely to come in stages, as different categories take off.

Suspicions surrounding privacy and the potential danger of a cyber-attack via your smart appliance have not yet been fully addressed.  The Deloitte research shows that 13 per cent of people are holding back from buying connected devices because they are concerned about their device getting hacked, while 11 per cent do not want their usage data accessed by companies

Q: Doesn’t the future of the connected home rely on retailers getting on board?

A:  Most new appliances entering the KBB market are smart-ready with connected features as standard.  However the longer replacement cycle of KBB products which means that this market will take some time to catch up with categories such as home entertainment.

Retailers can speed up this cycle by providing an ‘experiential’ space with targeted promotions.

Q:  Where do you see the smart-home evolving in the future?

A:  For the smart-home to move into the mainstream market, brands must understand the key trends which will affect the way people will use their homes in the future.  These include:

  • The growth in single person households – how can smart technology ensure that everyone can come home to a warm, lit home and with tea in the oven?
  • The ageing population – How can smart devices enable the ill or elderly to stay in their own homes or in assisted living situations longer, plus provide peace of mind to relatives by enabling them to check in remotely?
  • Multi-generational families –  how can homes be zoned to consider the different requirements of each generation living under one roof – lighting and heating levels, shower settings, eating habits etc?
  • The rise of the celebrity chef – Can connecting TV programmes with the contents of the fridge and the online shopping list tap into our national obsession with cookery programmes?


Bespoke Research commissioned by Wilsonart

Bespoke Research for Wilsonart

Wilsonart UK has partnered with research firm JM Blake Associates (now part of Trend-Monitor) to carry out consumer research that is designed to “identify who is buying laminate work surfaces in the 21st century and for what reasons”, with more than 1,000 consumers who had recently bought a worktop questioned through face-to-face exit interviews with retailers and online questionnaires.

Close to half of those questioned said they were purchasing a new worktop to replace surfaces in an existing kitchen, rather than as part of a completely new kitchen installation. Furthermore, only 15% of surfaces purchased were being used for utility rooms, garages, home offices and bedrooms, with the remainder being bought for kitchens.

According to Wilsonart, laminate was the most popular choice of material, followed by solid surface. Slightly more than half of those questioned said they had researched surfaces online, with only 3% having purchased from an online-only retailer.

The survey also found that surface performance, the best material type for a budget, and being suited to certain kitchen designs were the most important factors for consumers when purchasing a new surface.

“Wilsonart has always focused research on design, trends and styles but we wanted to find out about the consumer purchasing motivation,” said Wilsonart UK marketing communication manager Ruby Kiernan. “Who is buying, where are they buying, what are they purchasing and what other uses do consumers have for our products.”

She added: “Most consumers are seeking knowledge, design and customer service hand-in-hand with a competitive price. Notably, though, of all the buying decisions, being the cheapest is at the bottom of the list of reasons to purchase, supporting our theory that confidence has grown in the market and consumers buy on design, not price.”


Source: Wilsonart

Preferential Report Rates for Construct UK members


We are pleased to announce our collaboration with Construct UK and we are offering all members of the Construct UK website a 10% discount on our consumer insight reports.

First established in 2002 by former Building Centre director, Darren Jarvis, Construct UK was created to provide the UK construction marketing community with fast access to an independent and extensive resource of construction-specific sales, media and marketing information.  Today their clients include businesses and trade organisations from across the world and their comprehensive online directory of information is specifically compiled to support the sales and marketing activities of all organisations operating in the construction industry.

View the Construct UK press release here



Press Release – April 2017

Trend-Monitor Press Release

Homeowners are considering their dogs as well as their children when planning a new kitchen, according to the latest research into kitchen purchase behaviour.


Kitchen Purchase Behaviour


Multi-family households, flexible working conditions, the TV programmes we watch, and now even our pets, all influence the way in which we use our kitchen space.

The new research by market intelligence company, Trend-Monitor Ltd (previously J M Blake Associates), delves into these influences and investigates the motivating factors behind the decision to purchase a complete new kitchen.

“Our previous research has given us a valuable insight into the consumer purchase process for kitchens, but we realised that there was a stage before the consumer even entered a kitchen showroom which required further investigation”, says Jane Blakeborough, Research Director for Trend-Monitor.

This latest study questioned 500 UK homeowners who have recently purchased a complete new kitchen to investigate how family circumstances and household demographics, multi-functional space issues and emerging smart technologies had impacted on how their kitchens were planned and which products they purchased.

With over 40% of kitchens doubling up as an office or a homework area, the kitchen space has to work extra hard for many households.  However, the good news for the industry is that spending on kitchens is back on the agenda with homeowners showing a renewed willingness to invest in their kitchens; using professional kitchen planners to ensure their new kitchen suits their lifestyle and personal environment, and incorporating appliances which have previously been considered luxury, high-ticket items

Outside influences such The Great British Bake-Off TV series have had a positive influence on the way kitchens are used, with up to 70% of 25-34 year-old homeowners regularly baking a cake.  And entertaining is a key activity for over 60% of homeowners, who cook for family and friends other than their immediate household on monthly basis.

The data collected from the survey has enabled Trend-Monitor to create six different kitchen consumer profiles; from the Traditional Kitchen Consumer who likes to keep to a small range of recipes they know they can cook well, to the Experimental Kitchen Consumer who buys the latest kitchen gadgets.  Aimed at kitchen manufacturers and retailers, these profiles highlight the diverse needs of UK homeowners in terms of their kitchen requirements and will aid in identifying target markets and creating a structured approach to product development and marketing communications.

A copy of this latest report – Kitchen Purchase Behaviour, Consumer Insight Report No.2 – is available to purchase here


Trend-Monitor Ltd (previously J M Blake Associates) is a trusted resource of relevant market, consumer and trend information for the home improvement and construction industries, matching global intelligence with local market data.


Jane Blakeborough, Research Director
Tel:  0113 209 3288


Download this press release as a PDF

The Changing Consumer podcast from the KBB Conference

Changing Consumer podcast

At the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference 2016 Trend-Monitor’s Research Director, Jane Blakeborough, took part in a panel discussion about the Changing Consumer.

A podcast of this discussion is now available.

Alongside Graham Jones, Sales and Marketing Director of Mereway Kitchens,  and Tina Riley, Managing Director of retailer Modern Homes, Jane identified some key consumer trends which are influencing the way consumers purchase new bathrooms, discussing research prior to purchase, individualism, bargain hunting, environmental issues and much more.

Click on the image below to listen to this session via Youtube or follow this link


Note:  J M Blake Associates is now part of Trend-Monitor Ltd


Our new Mini-Poll Service

Over the next few months we will be trialling a series of mini-polls in order to gain instant insight into issues regarding UK homes and home life.  

These mini-polls are being run in partnership with Panelbase, one of the UK’s most respected research panels with over 240,000 adult respondents.  They are members of the British Polling Council and their polls are regularly used by some of the UK’s leading business and consumer press.

Here at Trend-Monitor our polls will be focused on UK homeowners in particular, and with this in mind our first mini-poll asked two questions – What do you like best about your kitchen? And what would you change about your kitchen?  See the results of this mini-poll and others here

Mini-polls are a great way to get up-to-the-minute reliable poll data across a range of topics relevant to your market, with the data presented back to you in a simple user-friendly way.

What would you like to ask?

Contact us if you would like to add a question into our next mini-poll.

You can email us at or phone us at 0113 209 3288



When to use Focus Groups

Focus groups are a dynamic research process used to collect qualitative data from customers or target markets. Generally, between six and ten people are brought together with a moderator to discuss their attitudes and opinions about a product, service, packaging, campaign or idea.

Focus groups can be held online or using teleconferencing software, but are more commonly held in person, and often in a room with a one-way mirror so that clients can observe the proceedings.

Why Are Focus Groups Effective?

Due to their open, free-flowing nature, focus groups are an excellent way of developing an understanding of what customers (or other target groups) think, and what their attitudes are towards a variety of topic and issues. Moderators can show stimuli to the participants – such as new products, new packaging or advertising ideas – and gain real insight into their attitudes from their first-hand spontaneous reactions.

Moderators can also leverage the dynamics of the group to discuss topics in great depth, and hone in on the views of each participant. This along with the ability to change questions based on the responses of the group, is the most valuable part of the process.

Focus groups are useful when …

  • Little is know about the subject. Conducting focus groups can help understand market needs and requirements, or identify areas to develop via further research.
  • There are multiple topics to explore. Focus group queries are open-ended and interactive so a number of variables can be explored at the same time.  The group can also initiate discussion about new ideas not previously identified.
  • A group dynamic would stimulate a better response, as respondents often build on each other’s comments and reach an agreement on issues between themselves. There is a lot that can be learnt from the banter between group members, and also the ‘unspoken’ language used as a reaction to ideas, such as gestures, facial expressions or even silence, which can be analysed by observers.
  • An initial reaction is required to a subject, as seeing and hearing what a consumer really thinks is a very powerful research tool. Additionally as focus groups are often videotaped, this allows each reaction to be reviewed and analysed many times.
  • Quick feedback is required. Focus groups enable the results to be seen instantly by observers.
  • There is a lack of direction for subsequent quantitative research. Focus groups help define the important issues and can reveal topics that should be looked into further, often revealing jargon that will help future respondents understand what is being asked, reducing the potential for confusion

Focus groups are not suitable for …

  •  Deciding major marketing or budgetary spend as the sample size is usually too small to offer anything more than a direction on which to base further research. Focus groups provide only qualitative data which lacks statistical accuracy and quantitative research is required to substantiate any major business decisions.
  • Repetitive research, as duplicating prior focus groups will very often elicit the same results. Instead use the results of the initial focus group to pull out a number of issues to investigate further via qualitative research, such as online, telephone, exit interviews, etc.   These methodologies are better for tracking and comparing over time.
  • Behavioural research. Focus groups only highlight what the respondents ‘say they do’ not what they ‘actually do’.  Instead use observational methodologies such as field work, heat mapping, eye-tracking and ethnographic studies.

Selecting Participants for focus groups

The group needs to be large enough to generate a rich discussion, but not so large that the views of some participants are left out. Between six and ten people is widely considered to be the ideal number, although some believe that mini groups of between three and six people will provide for greater in-depth discussion.

In an ideal situation, the participants will be comfortable around one another but will not know each other. It’s also important to consider the homogeneity of each focus group. This levels the playing field and reduces inhibitions.

The average focus group project in the UK consists of four to six groups, but this varies for each project depending on budget and how many different demographics need to be represented in the sample. It takes at least two groups in order to produce valid results, but once a point of saturation is reached – when you’re not hearing anything new – an optimum number of groups have been used.

It may be necessary to use an incentive to attract participants, but they can be selected in a number of way; randomly, voluntarily or through nomination.

Structuring the Focus Group

Focus groups are structured around a set of carefully predetermined questions – usually no more that ten – and the discussion should be led by a skilled moderator who nurtures disclosure in an open and spontaneous format. The moderator’s goal is to generate a maximum number of ideas and opinions from as many different people.

The discussion should take anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes – beyond that most groups are not productive.  It can be a good idea to open with an ice-breaker question to increase comfort levels.

The moderator has a responsibility to cover all prepared questions and to get all participants to fully explain their answers within the allotted time. It’s also important that they remain neutral, refraining from nodding, raising eyebrows, agreeing or disagreeing with any answers.

Analysing the Results

As the research process is qualitative, the results will be in the form of text, usually transcribed from an audio or video file. This can then be put into a report comprising of the main issues raised with illustrative quotes, plus any major findings and a conclusion.