Add on cooking products: Added value

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Specialist appliances are becoming increasingly popular, particularly at the top end of the market. These enable the customer to complete their dream kitchen while enhancing the entertaining at home experience. Although it’s still a niche market at present, there is certainly plenty of scope for retailers to see good returns simply by offering this add-on opportunity.
Market trends
According to Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances, 92.5% of built-in electric ovens don’t have a steam feature.  “Of those without steam, the average price is £332 (decline of 5.0% year-on-year) whilst those with steam have an average price of £783 (growth 18.2% y-o-y).” So the profit margins speak for themselves.
“What were once regarded as luxury add-on appliances,” adds Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich, “are now becoming key features of new kitchens, as customers are seeking more versatile options for cooking.” 
The reason for this current trend is that these innovative products are perfectly in tune with the modern consumer as Guy Weaver, chief executive of Premium Appliance Brands, confirms. “We want to save space, save energy and eat healthier,” he says, “but also to enjoy life’s luxuries like a perfectly brewed espresso. However, for some add-on appliances such as warming drawers and steam ovens, consumer awareness is not as high as it could be. There’s still an education process required as with improved consumer knowledge, demand in this market will also increase.”
Developments in technology
Microwaves, in particular, are becoming more advanced and the latest built-in models offer combination options to meet the needs of the consumer. “Combination cooking is at the forefront of technology,” says Maurizio Severgnini, managing director for the built-in division at Hoover Candy. “The Hoover HBM 310X combi microwave for instance features six cooking options and six power levels with automatic cooking and defrost functions.”
Gorenje is one example of a manufacturer whose sales in this area have soared. Its CBM 9000E can cook with microwave, convection and/or grill and is A energy rated. Finished in stainless steel and glass with a touch control panel, it co-ordinates perfectly with a built-in kitchen.
Steam ovens are also seeing an increased interest both from the manufacturer and consumer. They feature a water reservoir that is either attached directly to the mains water supply or with an independent removable container. By selecting a pre-set temperature, the water will heat to above boiling point to convert the water into vapour. This is then pumped into the main cavity or distributed via gravity to steam food within.
Coffee machines are also upping the stakes with sleek push button controls and the ability to use coffee pods, which were previously only available on contract or vending machines.
What’s new
This year, LG will be looking at linking with premium cookware brands to highlight the versatility of its new light oven technology. The SolarCube, which was launched in February ‘08, integrates both microwave and grill functions and is the world’s first freestanding oven that can also be transformed into a built-in appliance.
Miele has teamed up with premium coffee manufacturer Nespresso to create the CVA 3000 series of automatic coffee makers, due to be launched this month. Available as a built-in version and countertop model, it features touch button controls, user prompting and removable dishwasher-safe parts. There’s also a choice of finishes with aluminium, titanium or a CleanSteel stainless steel.
Hotpoint is also offering something new with its HCM15 coffee maker that dispenses two cups simultaneously. The customer can choose from fresh coffee, espresso, cappuccino and latte with temperature and strength to suit their taste.
Stoves recently introduced its Accolade collection of premium built-in appliances in a stainless steel and black finish. “Being a nation that loves to entertain in the comfort of our own homes, it is essential that manufacturers provide consumers with products that allow them to deliver professional results,” says Steve Dickson, product manager for Stoves, whose latest range includes 145mm and 295mm warming drawers and the S7-E450MWCOMBI built-in combination microwave.
Miele has launched a range of steam ovens including pure steam (DG 5060 and DG 5080), steam plus dry heat on the combi steam oven (DGC 5080), and steam pressure (DG 4164).
Samsung meanwhile has launched the Dual Cooking range with its BT63 FDST twin oven – a single oven that can be split into two via a heat protective shelf. It features twin fans with separate heating elements for each as well as steam cleaning and digital display.
Also new to the market is De Dietrich’s Compact 38 collection of multifunction oven, steam oven and combination microwave;  Caple’s CM300SA coffee machine and CM107 built-in combination microwave and Smeg’s FV38X steam oven with suggested cooking times and a range of pre-selected temperatures.
Whirlpool is also wowing us with its Gallery range of compact appliances, which comprises a coffee maker, warming drawer, speed oven and combi microwave designed to fit flexibly and seamlessly into any kitchen space and décor.
This year will also see Team UKI extending several of its ranges to include a compact microwave and fish steamer.
The benefits
Steam cooking helps retain almost 50% of the vitamins and minerals in food that usually dissolve when immersed in water. It preserves flavour, colour and aroma while maintaining form and texture. There’s also no need to add salt or oil, so it really is a healthier way to cook. “Most consumers now realise the value of steam cooking in terms of health benefits,” explains Julia Philips, Indesit Company trade marketing manager, ” so demand is growing. With stylish products such as the Hotpoint SEO100 steam oven on the market, market value and price has increased overall.”
Built-in microwaves free-up space on the worktop while adding a more streamlined look to the kitchen. They are also extremely versatile with combination cooking offering a fast and economical way of cooking different foods at the right temperature. Many customers are also seeing the benefits of choosing a built-in combi microwave as a second in command to the more robust range cooker.
“When it comes to warming drawers, they are the must-have accessory for any multi-tasking cook,” says Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances. “Warming drawers are both useful and versatile, helping you with the preparation and timing of your meals. Not only will they warm your plates, they will also keep pre-cooked food warm safely. This is ideal for the guest that is running late or if you are trying to combine different elements of the meal together.”
“Warming drawer sales have rocketed in recent years,” confirms Paul Thompson, managing director of Baumatic UK, “and I would estimate that we now sell a warming drawer with at least 50% of our coffee machines when they are installed at eye-level and this figure is more like 80% for compact ovens like our P460. This suggests that more people are positioning their appliances in horizontal formation, with the warming drawer located underneath a compact oven or combi microwave to make it the same height as a standard 60cm appliance.”
A recent survey by Electrolux shows that 25% of British households entertain at home at least twice a month  (Kitchen Theatre Report 2007). “And what better way to finish off a supper party than to be able to offer guests a choice of coffee,” adds Dawn. “Consumers are much more discerning about the type of coffee they drink and this is helping to grow demand for coffee machines.”
Styling stands out
So what about the look of the appliance – what role does it play in whether a customer chooses to add-on? 
“Aesthetics are always going to be high on the agenda when buying add-on products,” says Steve Dickson, product manager for Stoves. “One of the many benefits of offering a full suite of co-ordinating appliances is that consumers can add as many pieces as they like to suit their kitchen layout and lifestyle habits.”
The retailer can encourage multiple purchases by displaying the complete set of products together to help the customer visualise how their finished kitchen could look.
“Demonstration is essential,” advises Mike Jarrett, sales director for Neff, “especially with concepts such as steam, where the benefits are not immediately obvious to the consumer. If you, as a dealer, don’t offer this as a viable option, the cautious nature of the consumer will probably take over and they will just stick to what they know, rather than try something new and beneficial like steam.”
Jane Massey, brand manager for Siemens, agrees: “It’s important to show the flexibility of specialist appliances at point of sale, especially in terms of installation options.  Display groups of specialist models together – in column, side by side or in groups – to show the breadth of the range and the design co-ordination.”
“Our experience shows that customers are looking for the complete co-ordinated package,” adds Guy Weaver, chief executive of Premium Appliance Brands. “They want built-in appliances that save space, rather than having to fill their worktops with the latest gadgets.  They also want appliances that make a statement and not simply fade into the background, so although energy efficiency and cost are important deciding factors, for many, style will continue to be the key consideration when choosing a new cooking appliance.”

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