044 HPM 0517

HPM May 2017

44 BATHROOMS & SHOWERS Installers: go digital for bigger profits Craig Baker, marketing director at Mira Showers, looks at how digital products continue to provide the sector with its ongoing growth opportunities as As trends in the bathroom change – with one notable shift being a move away from ‘all-in-one’ power showers – one segment of the showers market has long been outperforming the others, and is set to continue to do well. Formerly seen as more of a premium/upmarket purchase, digital products are now more widely available and at increasingly affordable prices. The technology is tried and trusted too – digital long having been a mainstay of the commercial bathroom market, where precise temperature control, for instance, is essential in healthcare and other settings. Hard numbers Hard numbers on the volume of digital products entering the market are hard to come by, not least because data submitted to either the Building Services Research and Information Association or BRG Consult, the chief source of sales information, is incomplete owing to some manufacturers not sharing their figures. That said, we do know digital showers currently represent around ten per cent volume share of the UK shower market and the sector has seen considerable growth since first launched in 2001. For instance, and perhaps more importantly, pumped digital showers now account for 30% of the mixer market by value. That growth is anticipated to increase dramatically over the next few years as the technology becomes more accessible, prices reduce and the ‘Smart Home’ concept increasingly takes hold. Digital showers currently represent ten per cent volume share of the UK market and has grown since launch in 2001 Insights into consumer attitudes towards technology purchases suggest that digital could rise to up 59% of shower installations in time. In the context of the ‘Smart Home’, the prospect of automation was much publicised over the past few decades, yet took a long time to make real inroads. However, as wireless and networkable devices become more prevalent, the reality of advanced control – especially “Digital showers represent the latest development in showering technology; they are one of the most robust sectors in the current market and offer installers the greatest potential for growth and profit” through apps – is now part of our everyday lives. Digital showering is just one example, whereby showers, for example, can be turned on to warm-up’ before getting in, or flow rates can be fixed for greater water efficiency. Other benefits include: ease of installation, as the valve can be located away from showering area; data cabled, remote or wireless control, whereby temperature and flow pre-selection are ‘memorised’ for personalised shower experience; and the opportunity for ‘iconic’ designs provided by hidden valves, touch screen displays, remote controls and sleek fittings. In control terms, digital shower programming took a step forward with the introduction of apps for the home user. An example is the new Mira Mode. This allows the user, from either their smart phone or tablet, to conveniently operate the shower when walking in the door from work; while preparing children for bed; or as a means to manage water usage and efficiency. App controls for digital showers, using Bluetooth technology, allow for valves to be turned on and off, set maximum temperatures, set maximum shower duration and – when cleverly combined with a bath filler – to fill a bath to a predetermined level. In time, fully integrated control could also deliver in a variety of applications – one, say, where a group of appliances are managed as a ‘unit’. Such networking – especially where device integration exists – doesn’t limit the use of such controls to any one ‘appliance’: they can also be deployed to operate lighting, home AV systems, security, and even climate controls. Market composition is anticipated to change from its historical split between ‘traditional’ mixer and electric showers to further encompass digital, as the products offer consumers benefits not available through ‘traditional’ showers. That said, anecdotal experience gained in a recent series of roadshows reveals that there are some installers who are still hesitant at making the move into the new arena of electronics, along with the perceived challenges that brings. Technical concerns Technical concerns appear to be diminishing as it becomes more widely known that the installation challenges presented by digital are often less than that of electric showers, where the cable run, size, consumer loadings can bring complications and create additional costly work. Consequently, there is a great opportunity to expand into a consumer need area with minimal difficulty. Digital showers represent the latest development in showering technology; they are one of the most robust sectors in the current market and offer installers the greatest potential for growth and profit. shower controls join the world of apps www.hpmmag.com May 2017 enquiry number 126 “Anecdotal experience gained in a recent series of roadshows reveals that there are some installers who are still hesitant at making the move into the new arena of electronics, along with the perceived challenges that brings”


HPM May 2017
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