Even as many consumers are now venturing out of the kitchen after two years of exclusive home cooking, they are nevertheless sticking with some trends acquired during the pandemic. Experts from Almo, Signature Kitchen Suite, and Beko filled us in on what appliances they see consumers are being drawn to, what technologies are the most popular, and where the industry is going next.
Cooking for Health (and Joy)
Health has never been so top of mind for today’s consumers, and this shows up significantly in the kitchen. Steam cooking is used for nutrient preservation, as well as retaining moisture in a recipe, and air-fry cooking gives comfort food that distinctive crispiness without using high-fat oil. While these functionalities have been around for some time, the air-fry function, in particular, is popping up most on recipe idea boards.
“Without question, air fry has become a very popular feature addition across most major manufacturer offerings,” said Jack Halperin, senior vice president, Dealer Channel Division at Almo Corporation. “The widely promoted health benefits of air frying versus traditional oil frying has propelled this feature’s popularity over the past few years.”
The Draw of Sustainable Appliances
Homeowners may or may not go out of their way to seek eco-friendly appliances, but when offered an easy choice, many will choose the sustainable option. That’s why manufacturers are making that choice simpler by offering appliances like the Beko Washer, which featured a RecycledTub made completely of recycled water bottles.
“Not surprisingly, what’s popular in this category are reused and recycled materials,” said Salih Zeki Bugay, director of marketing and product management at Beko Home Appliances. “[Consumers are looking for] the ability of an appliance to deliver on maximum innovation and performance without adversely impacting the planet.”
Appealing to Busy Lifestyles
Families are back to busy and hectic schedules, so appliances that allow them to get things done faster are a commodity. “Speedy solutions for busy families encompass induction cooking, quick dishwasher and washer/dryer cycles with large-load capabilities, and quick-chill and quick-freeze compartments and options in refrigerators and freezers,” said Bugay.
According to Randy Warner, vice president of Signature Kitchen Suite, today’s at-home chefs are seeking kitchen appliances that not only deliver better results but also make food prep more efficient. “We’re seeing consumers gravitate towards products that have integrated features and functions to free up space on the countertop and create a clean, sleek look in their kitchen,” said Warner. “Plus, many of these appliances offer advanced technologies and a rich feature set.”
Putting Control in Consumers’ Hands
When it comes to connected appliances, many homeowners are still on the fence, although interest is gaining. However, an appliance with self-diagnostic communication resonates well with consumers as a true headache-saving feature. “In addition, being able to begin preheating your oven from your mobile device while on the way home from work, for example, has become an easy-to-understand value,” added Halperin.
One simple solution manufacturers are using to introduce technology to consumers is offering hybrid connectivity. According to Bugay, Beko’s research shows that a sizable percentage of homeowners still want to control basic functions manually. “Connectivity is a concept that sounds great at the time of purchase,” said Bugay. “However, the realities of equipment and connection challenges, reliability, cyber security, and low customer adoption rates can limit the potential here.”
What’s Coming Next for Appliances
As connected appliances slowly but surely catch on with homeowners, manufacturers are working at creating purposeful technologies that truly make lives more efficient and enjoyable. All-in-one appliances that offer more functionality and less countertop clutter are growing, healthier and often fun ways of cooking — like sous vide — are catching on, and other apps that encourage healthy eating are expanding in use.
“Connected appliance technology should continue to develop and grow in popularity,” said Halperin. “To do so, the industry has to figure out how to: convey the related benefits to the consumer in a simple-to-understand fashion that tangibly resonates with them, and how these benefits can be demonstrated to consumers during the consideration phase of their shopping experience (both on the retail sales floors and online).”