Larger and more intelligent

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The home laundry sector will always produce sales, says Hayley Gilbert. The key for the independent retailer is to encourage repeat sales by offering the very latest designs with something for every budget.

The home laundry market has traditionally been driven by distress purchases but the new wave of high-tech washing machines and tumble dryers are designed to last longer, so retailers need to offer their customers appliances at both ends of the market – basic models for first time buyers and quick-fix replacements as well as state-of-the-art machines that offer longevity and the latest features.

Market trends

GfK reveals that the fully automatic washing machine market has grown by 6% to 2,403.7 units (January to December 2010 compared to the same period in 2009). This strong growth in volume has been accompanied by an average retail price increase of 1%, taking it from £306 in 2009 to £309 in 2010.

GfK also shows the greater interest in trading up to improved energy ratings. Market share by energy, wash and spin ratings shows that the A++AA sector has grown by 127.4% but it constitutes just 1.7% of the market.

Customer expectations

What the consumer wants is to make their life as easy as possible, so any washing machine or tumble dryer that can do that is sure to sell well. Large capacities that mean bigger loads and less frequent washes are high on the wish list.

Andrew Jones at Samsung confirms that consumers don’t want to have to buy replacement products every couple of years, “Increasingly, we’re seeing a move towards consumers making an investment in products that cost them more in the short-term, but last longer. Machines featuring technology providing fabric care, durability and market-leading guarantees will therefore be popular.”

New products

Samsung has recently launched a flagship washing machine with Eco Bubble technology, providing the same powerful wash performance as you get with hot water but by washing at 15˚C. It works via a bubble generator that dissolves detergent in the water and then injects air, producing a rich soapy foam cushion that begins to appear in the drum seconds after the normal cycle starts. The detergent is so thoroughly dissolved, it doesn’t need as much heat to aid the cleaning process and the water penetrates much deeper into clothes – up to four times faster than in conventional washers.

According to Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich, over the past three years the big stories in washing machines have been the increase in load capacities and the demand for the low energy and water consumptions that attribute A+ and A energy and water ratings. “The De Dietrich DLZ714BU 7kg integrated washing machine has 49 litre consumption with A ratings for energy and water efficiency,” he says. “An electronic display highlights function data, wash cycle indication, time remaining and spin details. The Automatic Variable Capacity mode uses sensors to monitor the water level during the wash programme so the machine calculates the precise amount of water required throughout the entire cycle resulting in the best wash possible using the least amount of water.”

Fagor’s highly efficient programmes include its exclusive Turbo-Time option, which is available throughout its freestanding and integrated products. This reduces wash times to the lowest possible without affecting results, so the least energy will always be used to provide perfectly washed clothes.

New from Whirlpool is the Detergent Dosing Recommendation feature on its Green Generation appliances. This technology tells the user the exact amount of liquid or powder detergent to use for each and every load. The company has calculated that over a seven-year period, using the washing machine four times a week, the consumer will save around £249 in detergent alone.

Maytag is launching new models for 2011, offering advanced technology and design with intuitive programming and high levels of energy and water efficiency. These include IntelliSense electronic sensor technology on premium models, delivering up to 50% savings on energy and water. Maytag is also introducing a new Dosing Recommendation option on selected models.

Gorenje’s UseLogic control technology ensures minimum water consumption by automatically optimising the washing process. This is available on all freestanding models in its 2011 range, including the new 8kg WA82145.

The new Exxcel 7 VarioPerfect washing machine from Bosch features Active Water intelligent water management that uses sensors to control the amount of water used. V-ZUG’s 8kg Adora SLQ washer, which was launched in June 2010, meanwhile, has been awarded a European Top Eco Award for it’s A+AA rated performance so it should continue to sell well.

Amica has launched a new range of 7kg washing machines to the UK and is looking forward to some exciting introductions to its portfolio in 2011.

The new WMF147 from Smeg has 15 washing programmes that include special settings for jeans, hand washing and time delay, and is developed with new technology and enhanced electronics that have improved its performance, saving a further 10% in energy compared with similar A-rated appliances.

During the second half of 2011 Haier will be launching a premium 8kg washing machine in the UK. The new machine will have several unique design points including a special anti-bacterial feature. In addition, it is equipped with an IC motor for reduced noise and increased reliability, a new ‘wave drum’ to maximise washing efficiency whilst minimising wear and tear to clothes, and an auto weigh function that adjusts the washing time and water consumption according to your wash load.

Miele is introducing a new W5000 premium range of 8kg washing machines. With 10 standard washing programmes, appliances in the range also boast the very latest in advanced washing cycles to cater for every type of fabric. Bespoke cycles for trainers, pillows, curtains and even soft toys ensure that there is a cycle to suit all washing requirements. It also features Miele’s stain removal package with 22 stain programmes.

As part of the Neue Kollektion freestanding range from AEG, the L98699FL ProTex PLUS washing machine protect clothes thanks to an OptiSense system that allows the machine to better understand the size of the load so it uses the right amount of water, energy and time so that clothes are never over-washed.

Other models to look out for include CDA’s 8kg C1240 with 15 programmes and AAB rating, Beko’s new 8kg WMB81445L with its A+++++ energy rating and Hotpoint’s Aqualtis range with Auto Dose System that automatically measures out the correct amount of liquid detergent and fabric softener and the AQ9D692 model with steam options. Indesit has also introduced the new 9kg Prime washing machine. The PWE9168S uses Smart Technology sensors to detect laundry weight and set the optimum wash time and amount of water and energy needed.

For customers who want to super-size their laundry, look no further than Hoover’s Dynamic 10, which has one of the largest load capacities on the market, fitting a 10kg wash load into a standard kitchen space. The top of the range Dynamic 10+ also comes with a steam setting. New from LG is the even bigger 11kg steam-enabled washing machine for customers who really want to go large.

Tumble dryers

Condenser dryers have seen a huge increase in sales, especially those that offer sensor drying to reduce the need for ironing. Fagor’s FTD800W Easy Iron Steam condenser dryer goes one step further, as it offers a steam setting that reduces ironing times of up to 2kg of clothes by as much as 50%.

The latest dryers from Caple have a smart ‘DeCrease’ system that uses an advanced steam function to get r
id of creases altogether.

Whirlpool’s Green Generation condenser dryer has a 9kg capacity and 6th Sense intelligence, which constantly monitors temperature and humidity level to minimise drying time. New from Gorenje is the D82426 tumble dryer, which incorporates new steam technology; this removes creases while carefully drying clothes ensuring that ironing is a breeze.

A new range of Maytag dryers is also coming to market and will include the company’s IntelliSense drying technology to adapt the drying cycle automatically to save time and energy.

AEG is also launching the T96699ih ProTex dryer as part of its Neue Kollektion. It has a 118-litre drum for less creasing, special airflow system, top energy rating and the biggest glass door on the market.

Washer dryers

If the customer is faced with the dilemma of a small kitchen or an apartment to house their laundry appliances in, they would do well to consider the Bosch Logixx 7 washer dryer. Not only does it use half the amount of water as a standard washer dryer but it can also wash and dry nearly twice the laundry in one go, using just 51 litres of water to wash and dry a 4kg load. Another example is Siemens’ iQ500 washer dryer, which also uses airCondensation drying.

Design details

Today’s customer wants the full package – high-tech features, useful programmes, a large drum and attractive design and if they are investing heavily in a new product, they want it to look its very best. While there will always be a market for white laundry appliances, consumers are beginning to embrace alternative finishes such as black, silver, steel and even chrome.

“The washing machine is no longer the white box workhorse of the kitchen,” explains David Garden, commercial director of GE at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances. “Although utility rooms are popular with those who have the space, the majority of people still have their washing machine in the kitchen. As the kitchen increasingly becomes a social space for entertaining, consumers are looking to make a style statement with every appliance – including the washing machine. Black with stainless steel trim or chrome finishes remain popular but people are also starting to choose bold block colours such as red, and contrasting them with black worktops or white high gloss kitchen cabinetry.”

Future trends

“With the big push on TV by detergent manufacturers to use low-temperature washes, we’re likely to see an increase in machines with self-clean cycles,” says Rita Balestrazzi, marketing manager for Baumatic. “The reason being that frequent cold wash cycles don’t clean the machine itself as effectively as cycles running at 40 degrees and higher, leading to possible problems with mould, odours and loss of effectiveness. Self-clean cycles solve this problem, allowing the customer to do their bit for the environment without losing out on wash or machine performance.”

Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich, predicts that over the next five years all washing machines will feature certain levels of sensor intelligence with A energy ratings and 8kg will be the standard load. “We also predict more condenser dryers will enter the market, replacing vented options,” he says.

Sales tips

• Ask the customer questions about their lifestyle, the volume of washing they do and type of load – they have to help you determine the optimum appliance for their needs.

• Have a high-end appliance plumbed in to demonstrate how it actually works. Show how easy the LED displays are to use and how much laundry you can fit inside 9kg and 10kg models.

• Make sure the customer knows about the benefits of an energy efficient model – not only will they save energy and water but they can also help reduce their bills in the long run.

• Consumers are increasingly design-savvy, so it’s important to have a variety of styles and finishes to choose from.

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