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While dishwashers are considered indispensible by big families, busy professionals and young homeowners who grew up with a dishwasher, people who for many years did without one are neither appreciative of their role in the household or their efficiencies. For them the dishwasher remains an energy and water guzzler, taking precious space in the kitchen.

‘We all know that market penetration of dishwashers is low in comparison to our European counterparts. Lack of space in the kitchen is a factor but, because the dishwasher is the appliance that people believe they can live without, it is still regarded as a luxury and not a necessity. However, we also know that once consumers own a dishwasher, they will never be without one, so that existing 30% penetration consists in the main of repeat purchasers and thus this market is already mature but with huge room for growth,” comments Richard Walker, sales and marketing director, De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances.

Market trends

“The dishwasher market suffered the same fate as the wider MDA markets, and we have seen big year-on-year declines across all areas. The market suffered particularly in the run up to Christmas, however the outlook for the new year is positive as consumers have been holding off on big ticket purchases until the January sales,” explains Seema Baines, GfK MDA analyst.

In the period January ’08 to December ’08, dishwashers sales (859 thousand units) declined by 6.9%. It appears that the freestanding market (65% of volume and 58% of value) is more vulnerable as it declined by 8.3%, while the built-in sector decreased by only 4.1%. This is most likely due to the fact that the existing owners are trading up and many of the premium models are in the built-in sector.

The dishwasher market is currently worth £249million and its value declined by 7.2% in the period of January ‘08-December ‘08. The average price of a dishwasher stabilised at £290, with price of freestanding models (£259) slightly increasing (+1.5), while the price of built-in appliances (£350) has come down by 3.5%.

Customer expectations

Although the dishwasher market has two distinct groups of customers with differing expectations (see the box on page 29), their overall requirements closely reflect economic and social realities of our times.

As environmental considerations have come to the fore, water and energy efficiency have become the top priorities for people shopping for a dishwasher. Market statistics clearly reflect this: while the sales volume of the overall dishwasher market has declined by 6.9%, the sales of triple AAA class models dipped by only 1%. The same is true of value. Although the overall market decreased by 7.2%,  the sales value of the AAA segment went down by only 2.2%.

The water and energy consumption of the latest models is reduced to a bare minimum. “Our top model, the Bosch LogiXX, uses only 10 litres of water and only 0.98kwh energy.  This is for a 14 place setting so if you were to divide the 10 litres of water by 14 you will see actually how little water we use for this mammoth job,” says Ken Humphrey, Bosch brand manager.  Also Maytag’s VARA model uses only 9.9 litres per standard wash and one kWh of electricity.

It is important to give customer the opportunity to make energy-saving decisions: “90% of energy consumption of dishwashers is used in the process of heating the water. Gorenje appliances now offer a 35˚C cycle, which when combined with lower water consumption, provides a valuable saving to the customer, ” says Bill Miller, sales director, Gorenje UK. “The New World DW60, 60cm integrated dishwasher for example has an eco wash setting which uses less energy and water when in operation.  It also has a ‘delay start’ which is great if your electricity usage is calculated for off-peak and on-peak pricing – as you can set it to wash later when energy is cheaper,” adds Dan Greenhall at New World. Also Amica’s ZIM627 model has seven washing programme lasting from 30 to 150 minutes in four temperatures, including eco wash and a delay timer.

Noise levels are crucial too. “Open plan living spaces, where kitchen and living areas have merged, have become very popular in the last couple of years.  As a result the demand for quiet appliances, which make little noise when in use has soared,” says Dan Greenall. The best performing dishwashers are ‘whisper quiet’ in operation, such as Maytag’s VARA at 46dB, Miele’s G1225SC at 44dB or Whirlpool’s ADP8800 dishwasher which has a super silent overnight programme that runs at only 39dB. Similarly, AEG-Electrolux’s new F80873 model works at  just 39dB on the night cycle and 41dB on its day cycle.

Furthermore, “consumers want flexibility so it is important to have a selection of programmes. It is equally important, however, to make sure that the programmes are actually useful for the customer. Auto programmes and the 30 minute and 55 minute quick washers are key,” explains Sophie Davidson, product manager at Electrolux Major Appliances.

Product developments

Modern energy and water efficient dishwashers increasingly use highly ‘intelligent’ electronics systems.

“Sensor technology has advanced to include Eco and Auto programmes which use a light beam to measure the murkiness or turbidity of the water and adjusts the programme accordingly. The Auto Sensor can even differentiate between particles and bubbles for even more accurate results, ” explains Vanessa Holloway, Miele group product manger. Miele’s Sensor Wash programme available on G1225 SG and G1343 SG models uses just 8 litres of water.

ICS (Intelligent Control System) technology is available in all De Dietrich/Fagor product ranges. “In our dishwashers, is not only remarkably easy to activate, but will automatically ensure that only the optimum water and energy is used for each wash. Sensors within the machine assess the size of the load and how dirty the contents are and will then choose the correct programme,” comments Richard Walker, sales and marketing director, De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances.

Whirlpool’s 6th Sense technology works in a similar way. It also stops the wash when the dishes are perfectly clean.

Whirlpool is also the first manufacturer in Europe to introduce steam technology to dishwashers. “Whirlpool’s ADP8800 6th Sense one touch AquaSteam dishwasher uniquely combines steam and water to clean dishes effectively without the need for scrubbing or pre-soaking. Using steam during the dishwasher’s cycle gently loosens food particles of even dried on-waste, yet steam is gentle enough to effectively clean even delicate items, such as china, explains Ray Isted, brand marketing manager.

More than meets the eye

External design is particularly important in the freestanding dishwasher category therefore the latest fashions, such as the recent spate of black dishwashers, are quickly reflected in this sector. Smeg, a leader in aesthetic design, has recently adopted its successful retro style to offer a range of FAB dishwashers in a wide palette of colours. Also, in line with increased demand for matching appliances, Gorenje has developed specially designed décor panels which fit onto the front of its Ora Ito, Pininfarina and new Pure dishwasher ranges.

However, “design does not only relate to the outside appearance of the dishwasher but also to the inner cabinet. The configuration of the baskets and their flexibility to accommodate awkwardly shaped plates, long stem glasses and large pots has become a crucial aspect of the design process,” argues Miele’s Vanessa Holloway.

Gorenje has introduced the ‘Click-Clack‘ system to provide optimum space for dishes and pans. By enabling the movement of the upper basket one notch higher it creates space in the lower rack to accommodate large items. Whirlpool’s
OptiFlex racks are positioned in the lower dishwasher drawer and fold to create up to 30% extra space for larger items. Also as a result of their flexibility dishware can be positioned facing the 32 high powered jets that sit at the bottom of the dishwasher tackling dried and burnt-on food.  

What’s coming next

“With the current economic climate the consumer will retrench and make the home their castle, putting any spare cash into upgrading their home.  The focus will be on the kitchen becoming the living and entertainment space of the home,” predicts Maytag’s Julie Blaylock. Vanessa Holloway at Miele agrees with this: “As homes become the scene for bigger social gatherings, more often, I think we will see the design of dishwasher being led by this trend. The norm will be for more seamless integration of appliances into open plan living spaces.”

At the same time, however, the pressures for resource efficiency will became greater. This may come with the need to balance economical use of resources with the requirements of modern living, such as water recycling and using ‘grey water – with the pressures to shorten washing programmes. The capacity of the dishwasher within the traditional footprint is also likely to increase to further improve economy.


First time buyers

  • Discuss their lifestyle and ask questions.  How many people are there in the household?  Do they entertain frequently?  What time of the day are they likely to run the machine?
  • These questions offer opportunities to demonstrate special functions such as a time delay facility, half load option or flexibility of the baskets.
  • Ask them to guess how much water is used by a dishwasher and surprise them with the answer: some models use as little as 9 – 12 litres compared to 45 litres when washing up by hand.
  • If space is an objection – suggest slimline models which often are cheaper.

Replacement buyers

  • They are looking to upgrade to more capacity, style, energy efficiency, quieter operation, sensor programming, and overall greater functionality.
  • They can be more demanding too.  Establish their likes and dislikes from their previous machine and mention the improvements achieved by the latest models in terms of wash performance and flexibility.  Mention that advanced sensors mean they clean better too.
  • The second or third time around consumers are willing to pay a premium for the next generation of dishwashing technology. 

(advice from Siemens’ Jane Massey)

Benefits of the modern dishwasher

  • It saves water and electricity. It uses just a quarter of the water required for hand washing (the latest models use less than 10 litres of water).
  • It costs around 50% less than hand washing, when you include detergents and rinse aid and salt.  
  • The dishwasher is very hygienic using higher wash temperatures.  It dries without the need to use a tea towel that harbours millions of germs.
  • The time saving is enormous, releasing upwards of 300 hours per year.                

(advice from Maytag’s Julie Blaylock)

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