Home renovations drive sales of major household appliances: 12% increase in sales 2010-15

March 31, 2016

Americans take pride in their homes, and it seems the heart of the home is enjoying more than its fair share of upgrades. New research from Mintel reveals that sales of washing machines, refrigerators and cooking appliances are booming as consumers upgrade to the latest, bigger and better energy saving varieties.

Bolstered by improvement in the overall economy, sales of most types of major appliances stabilized at the end of the recession in 2009, followed by a sales acceleration in 2013 with further improvement in the housing and home renovation markets. Indeed, between 2010 and 2015, sales of washing machines, refrigerators and cooking appliances grew an electrifying 12 percent to reach $36.5 million. This year’s sales of major appliances are expected to increase a further 6 percent to reach a spectacular $38.7 million in 2016.

Within the market, cooking appliances have proved to be a star performer, increasing an impressive 21 percent over the past five years. But they aren’t the only home appliances heating up the sector. There has been a flood of washing machine sales with a 16 percent market increase over the same five years. Meanwhile, refrigerators increased a cool 17 percent.

“Cooking appliances, as well as refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers, have benefited from improvement in the home renovation market, as kitchens receive a disproportionate share of home renovation dollars. Washers and dryers, while also benefiting from the quickening pace of new home sales and home renovations, are also gaining ground due to the significant improvements in energy and water efficiency that newer models offer,” said John Owen, Senior Analyst at Mintel.

According to Mintel research, the major appliance that Americans are most likely to have last purchased is the refrigerator or freezer. Indeed, some 41 percent of American appliance purchasers last bought a fridge. Meanwhile, clothes washers (39 percent) and dryers (35 percent) round out the top three most recently purchased major household appliances.

Highlighting the importance of marketing coordinated suites of appliances, major appliance purchasers tend to purchase more than one appliance at a time, an average of 2.2 on the most recent purchase occasion.

37% of major household appliance purchasers said new features was the main reason for their last purchase

Today, Americans are choosing to replace their appliances because the item is worn out. In fact, nearly three in five (58 percent) Americans said replacing worn out appliances was the main reason for their last purchase. However, gadget loving Americans are prioritizing new features, with 37 percent of purchasers stating this as the key reason for purchasing a new appliance.

Energy conservation is growing in importance, as well, with three in 10 (30 percent) purchasers upgrading their appliance for energy saving options. What’s more, in the true American spirit, bigger really is better as nearly one quarter (22 percent) of Americans replaced their last appliance to get a bigger model. Finally, one in five (19 percent) consumers replaced their appliance as part of remodeling or renovation.

“While replacement of a worn-out appliance is a constant in the market and remains the most common purchase motivation, consistent with the steady growth over the last decade of high-efficiency washing machines and the 2015 implementation of EPA Energy Star ratings for clothes dryers, consumers are more likely to say they would pay more for higher energy or water-efficient ratings than any other feature,” continued Owen.

While appliance manufacturers continue to innovate with new smart features and technologies, Mintel research reveals that smart appliances so far have failed to spark significant interest in American households. For example, just 12 percent of consumers are willing to pay for a washer or dryer that allows them to diagnose service issues with a mobile app. Meanwhile, 11 percent of consumers would pay more for an oven they could monitor and control via a mobile device. And only 15 percent of consumers would pay extra for a fridge that allows users to check food inventory via a mobile device.

“While a fresh new crop of smart home appliances seems to bode well for the future of American households, those launched in recent years haven’t been big sellers. Their relatively slow performance in the marketplace is consistent with our research, which indicates that few appliance purchasers are willing to pay extra for smart features such as monitoring and control via mobile device. Although the youngest, and presumably most tech-savvy, consumers are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to say they would pay more for smart features, the reality is that most don’t have the financial means to afford the super-premium price tags that most smart appliances carry. Appliance manufacturers will have to overcome the disconnect between the long life expectancy of most major appliances and the far faster life cycle of most technology. Smart features on an appliance sold today may feel dated long before the appliance itself is worn out,” concluded Owen.

Press copies of the Major Household Appliances US 2016 report and interviews with John Owen, Senior Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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