Small Domestic Appliances: Gadgets rule!

In the global world of gadgets the UK is at the forefront of early adopters.

Whilst Japan can stake a claim to be faster when it comes to new products in the digital world, the British consumer arguably takes the lead in domestic appliances eclipsing even the US which had the greatest success at marketing the “home help” revolution from fridge freezers to food mixers for most of the 20th Century.

Over the last two decades we have turned our kitchens from functional places to warm up ready-meals into a creative powerhouse which has resulted in an abundance of food magazines, television and radio shows helping inspire a generation of chefs in the UK and around the world.

A direct consequence of this trend has been the enormous growth in small kitchen appliances beyond kettles and toasters, encompassing food processors, liquidisers, juicers and multi-faceted kitchen machines which help make aspirational cooks of us all. Consumers look for two key ingredients in buying a kitchen gadget: functionality; and design. This formula has also adapted to a wider selection of small domestic appliances including irons and vacuum cleaners too.

2013 heralded the first widely promoted Black Friday retail “event” in the UK and a 2014 repeat performance was always on the cards. Small domestic appliances (SDA) were a stand-out success in the promotions and a range of products saw substantial volume growth of double and even triple digits year on year.

Overall, small kitchen appliances* grew by 9% in value during 2014 to £779m. More than 1 million more units were sold and over 700 new different items were ranged into the marketplace making 2014 both one of the most successful and diverse markets in Europe. Leading the field has been the increasing appetite for consumers in both coffee makers and also healthy living.

Beverage Makers and Juicers

Hot beverage makers have benefitted from the surge in coffee consumption over the past 10 years. It now makes up around 16% of all kitchen appliances in value with sales of £122m in 2014, a 19% uplift on the previous year. Central to the category’s impressive performance is the “on demand” section of the market using sealed coffee capsules available widely in supermarkets and online. On demand, or single serve coffee makers account for three quarters of hot beverage makers’ volume sales, a rise from 41% of the market just three years ago and enjoys the rare privilege of both a buoyant mid-price and premium offer. Despite this, total average price has inevitably declined with promotional activity geared towards increasing household penetration of machines. In 2011, prices hovered around £99; in 2014, it dropped to around £70. At higher end pricepoints above £150, some price erosion is also visible though not as extreme.


Moving closer to professional, barista-quality coffee, some consumers trade up above £400 to fully automatic espresso machines. In value terms, this area has grown consistently and surpassed £14m in 2014, an increase of more than £4m year on year with half of these sales coming from online purchases.

Relatively speaking, juicers (juice extractors rather than citrus presses) have been the most successful small kitchen appliance of the last two years, tripling in value to over £25.5m last year. Juice diets have become a widespread health trend and more sophisticated products designed to reduce waste and hassle have launched a new breed of premium products operating at similar pricepoints to premium coffee machines. With around 95% of the juicer market, centrifugal products which removes juice from pulp, remain the most popular and affordable. Masticating juicers optimize juice yield by crushing fruit and vegetables more effectively resulting in less pulp and arguably more nutrients. Whilst small, growth in 2014 reached 190% constituting over half a million pounds.



Healthy Cooking


Aside from juicers, other food preparation gadgets promoting healthy eating proved popular in 2014. Liquidisers nearly doubled its value year on year growing to over £70m and was one of the few markets to see average price rise from £34 to £38. As with juicers, sturdier glass and metal products helped lift premium products as well as the continuing success of cooking functions associated with some models for soup-making. Health grills also improved its fortunes against a lackluster period from 2010 with growth of 22% in value to £22m. Once again, products over £100 which come with a range of settings significantly contributed to the bottom line. There were some casualties: low or zero oil deep fryers which had been a hero product line with a 48% uplift in value, saw a £2m drop in sales for 2014 suggesting some “saturation” for this particular healthy cooking option.


Irons and Steam Generators

The ironing market turned a corner in 2014 reversing a decline into a  10% growth in value and 4% growth in volume. The fact that value outpaced unit sales is connected to the 26% rise in steam generators. Compared to five years ago, the average size of the household is larger and the success of steam generators makes a lot of sense. Whilst average price may continue to slip and it is likely we will see total average price dip below £100 in the next five years, steam generators are heading towards a 10% share of total ironing volumes. Another smaller but growing feature for traditional steam irons are products without a cord. Offering greater versatility at the potential expense of limitless steam, cordless irons are only 1% of the market, but have consistently grown with value doubling to £1.8m in 2014.     


Price is usually the common denominator for consumer products but SDA may be a little different. There is clear evidence that we are more discerning about our choice of kitchen gadget than ever and this is one of the reasons we are prepared to pay substantially more for them compared to 20 years ago.



*Small kitchen appliances includes hot beverage makers, kettles, toasters, food preparation, sandwich toasters/ health grills, deep fryers


All data relates to GfK Panelmarket, Jan-Dec 2014 unless otherwise stated. 


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