Home laundry – Big news in eco style

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Although GfK figures suggest that last year the washing machine market remained relatively flat having shrunk – 0.8% in volume to 2,815,400 units with value sales having dipped by -1.6% (January to December 2007; source GfK), the overall market value for 2007 looked good at just over £814 million.
This year, advanced features, time saving benefits and designer styling should put an end to the distress purchase of old and herald a new wave of considered shopping amongst today’s educated consumer. 
“The home laundry market has undergone a revival in the past year,” confirms Simona Allan, white goods marketing manager for LG Electronics. “Energy efficient products have been extremely popular given that consumers are now shopping for ‘green’ domestic appliances, so models with a high energy rating are doing well.”
With the on-going interest in eco-friendly appliances, more manufacturers are teaming their A+AA rated washing machines with an A or B rated tumble dryer to combat the negative image of this energy-hungry appliance. We are also seeing an increase in sensor drying programmes on washer dryers and tumble dryers.
Lifestyle is one of the key factors driving the market with the pace of modern living becoming ever faster. This has resulted in a demand for time saving features and easy to use functions. “We are increasingly seeing consumers looking for appliances that incorporate practical solutions such as larger capacities, usable wash options and time-to-end displays,” explains Steve Dickson, built-in product manager for Glen Dimplex Home Appliances.
Another main trend, according to Loredana Butnaru, sales and marketing manager for Gorenje UK, is colour with black leading the way. “A white washing machine doesn’t fit in with the high-tech stylish kitchen look that consumers are demanding,” she says.
Technological advances
Intelligent machines that save time for the customer and are kinder to the environment are the latest buzzwords in home laundry.
Smeg has a new Wash Optimisation feature that eliminates the need for the half load option. It’s achieved by intelligent technology that allows the programme setting, water levels and energy consumption to be automatically adjusted according to the weight and nature of the load. It also offers a 30° Quickwash, which is suitable for mixed materials up to a maximum of 2.5kg of dry clothes, and an Enzyme Phase that works with enzymes within biological detergents, progressively heating the detergent to slowly release the enzymes that help tackle tough stains.
Stoves, Belling and New World’s integrated washers and washer dryers now also feature fuzzy logic technology while Maytag’s MAF2002 delivers sensor driven technology via its unique LCD screen.
Miele specialises in intelligent programmes that wash clothes quickly and easily without compromising on performance. “Miele machines offer garment specific wash programmes to help care for delicate or specific wash loads,” explains Stefan Pichetta, Miele’s laundry product manager, “with programmes such as Shirts to help minimise creasing and Denim to protect your favourite jeans from creasing and prevent streaky discolouration.”
Whirlpool’s latest innovation is its Bluetouch AquaSteam models. These machines feature an 8kg capacity with an A-rated wash and A+ rated energy consumption.  “The key innovation is the use of steam in the wash cycle,” explains category manager Nicole Cowley. “It can be used for stain removal, to sanitise clothes and bedding and to refresh laundry. The steam relaxes the fabric fibres, enabling the detergents to penetrate more deeply to remove even tough stains without using high temperatures. The sanitisation feature is of particular benefit to allergy sufferers, as the steam function can help eradicate the allergens within the garments.”
One of the most recent innovations from Baumatic is the Rain Shower Effect. Paul Thompson, managing director of Baumatic UK, explains: “By harnessing the centrifugal force generated by the spinning drum, water collected in a reservoir is re-used in the wash cycle.”
There’s new technology in drying too with Maytag’s drying cabinet that can be used for items unsuitable for tumble drying, and Indesit’s sensor drying, which is available on both vented and condenser dryers in the Hotpoint and Indesit range.
Latest features
Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances, confirms that the developmental trends are to models with better energy efficiency, bigger capacities and higher spin speeds. There’s also an increase in faster wash programmes such as AEG’s refresh option that can wash worn-once items like shirts in just 20 minutes, and the Superquick 15-minute option from Bosch. Maytag is also upping its game with the Time Wash programme, which allows the user to wash as clean as possible in the time available. A programme time may be selected from 30 minutes to three hours and the machine will optimise the wash to ensure it’s as effective as possible for the time you have chosen. Electrolux’s Time Manager washing machine did a similar thing when it was launched last year.
The Iron Aid tumble dryer launched by Electrolux last year still offers benefits that are essential to today’s time-poor consumer. With ironing being one of the nation’s most hated household chores, this appliance uses a steam programme during the cycle to remove creases and minimise ironing as a result.
What’s new
There are plenty of innovations to keep the market on its toes. Gorenje’s WA65205 model for instance incorporates a stylish touch screen display. “From here, all washing cycles can be requested and even bespoke programmes created and stored in the washing machine memory,” explains sales and marketing manager Loredana Butnaru. “It also includes a money saving intelligent load sensor, which weighs the amount of laundry in the machine and helps determine the correct amount of detergent and water required.”
Hoover and Candy washing machines offer a choice of programmes for different fabric types such as woollens and silks, as well as a Sensitive Care button that washes clothes in a deeper than usual wash level with five extra rinses to remove as much detergent as possible – perfect for baby’s clothes or those with sensitive skin.
During the course of this year, Miele will be introducing a range of fabric care products that will include multipurpose detergents, conditioners, colour care powder and liquid, delicates liquid, special purpose detergents and finishing agents.
There’s also some interesting news from the Indesit brand. “This is going to be an exciting year for Hotpoint,” confirms Ian Moverley, Indesit brand director, “with whole new product ranges across washing machines, washer dryers and tumble dryers. Look out for the latest addition to Hotpoint’s Aqualtis family – a brand new washer dryer, available in 1200rpm and 1400rpm spin speed variants, which gives the consumer a massive 8kg wash capacity with a 6kg wash and dry capacity, as well as a new 7kg washing machine range that completes the Indesit laundry offering, giving something for everyone and a clear trade-up route in store.”
Speaking of dryers, Baumatic’s latest addition is the BDW12.1 washer dryer, which is A-rated for energy and has 13 wash programmes. Caple are amongst the first to bring to market a fully integrated vented tumble dryer, as Amanda Cawood, product and marketing manager, explains: “We developed the highly innovative TDi100 to include an integral extendable hose and wall outlet, allowing it to be completely enclosed within a kitchen unit whilst still enabling vented drying.”
Elsewhere, Bosch is extending its black range with the inclusion of a tumble dryer, Maytag’s 60 Series boasts a completely new look and unique fascia, while LG intends to expand its Steam Direct Drive collection, taking into account increasing demand from consumers and the market to offer machines with a larger capacity. Sovereign will launch two new built-in laundry products – an 8.5kg washing machine and 6kg washer-dryer – while newcomers Team UKI, which currently only markets a compact tumble dryer, plans to launch a complementary washing machine later this year.
Styling and size
“The latest development across the board for home laundry is the addition of great design to what was the functional white box,” says Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich. “Stainless steel and black are the key colours, and in terms of freestanding, design is clearly gaining ground in the volume market. In terms of built-in, De Dietrich has also developed its latest range of integrated laundry products in black, with stainless steel controls, as this not only complements any kitchen style, but also reflects the design of the entire family of De Dietrich appliances.”
Siemens is also taking up the trend with the launch of its first black laundry duo. Jane Massey, Siemens’ brand manager comments: “These two new black laundry appliances form part of a brand new collection of black models being introduced to the Siemens freestanding range this autumn.”
Today’s consumer wants complete control over their laundry and Beko has responded to the demand by introducing a range of washing machines with interactive LCD displays, which allow the user to select the desired spin speed and temperature, see the time remaining and set a time delay of up to 24 hours.
Benefits of built-in
Freestanding may be cheaper and easier to install but there’s still a market for built-in laundry appliances as Steve Dickson, built-in product manager for Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, confirms: “With the rise of apartment living and kitchen space increasingly coming at a premium, integrated appliances provide the ideal solution for those wanting to create a sleek kitchen look without compromising on function. Even in larger properties, unified kitchen styles are leading the way, which is why all Stoves, Belling and New World integrated appliances are branded. As well as offering a great package for retailers, having clear branding across all integrated appliances encourages consumers to ensure continuity by selecting products from the same brand.”

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