A recent Analyst Pulse Survey* conducted by Euromonitor International among a network of in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world revealed interesting consumer preferences when choosing an automatic washing machine. The survey revealed that the most important features for consumers were energy and water efficiency, which were followed by features that increased convenience, such as time-saving features, while design and appearance features and other more technological advances interested consumers less. This is very telling for appliance manufacturers, which sometimes forget the importance of innovating to meet consumer needs, rather than to show off their technological prowess.
What features do you consider most important in washing machines?
Source: Euromonitor International Analyst Pulse Survey, June 2015
Energy and water efficiency are key, but is this attributable to the green consumer?
Despite ranking as the third factor when deciding on a major appliance purchase, out of over 200 people surveyed, 84% chose energy efficiency as an important feature on a washing machine and nearly 70% people chose water efficiency. These were the two most checked features in washing machines. The results were similar across all regions, although Latin America was the region that posted the fewest respondents in this feature. Interestingly, while for all consumers the savings in their water and electricity bills is typically an important factor, in more developed regions, the green issue is equally important. Hence, while manufacturers should market the green benefits in all regions, there should be stronger emphasis on personal savings in emerging regions where the green trend is growing but is not yet as strong when compared to monetary savings.
Convenience tops design for consumers
After energy and water efficiency, the analysts surveyed showed their preference for features that added to their convenience. Low noise was one of them. This was also the third preferred feature in all regions, but was mostly chosen by analysts surveyed in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. According to Consumer Reports, a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders revealed that most potential homebuyers in the US prefer to have their laundry appliances in the main floor of the house rather than the basement. This is one of the reasons that make it key to have low-noise appliances. Having a quick wash cycle ranked fourth, after low noise, another feature that highlights a consumer desire for convenience. As time is a constraint for most and with more women entering the workforce in all regions, any feature that cuts down on chore time is appreciated by consumers. Europeans were particularly keen on quick wash cycles on their washing machines, followed by Latin Americans, while, out of those surveyed from Asia Pacific, the results were divided: 50% of those polled checked this feature as important, while the other 50% did not check it. For Asia Pacific consumers, the size of the appliance was a more important feature. With <a data-customcontentid=”8397″>the second highest number of occupants per household after Middle East and Africa, but limited space, medium-sized capacity washing machines are quite popular. In fact, <a data-customcontentid=”8399″>in most Asia Pacific markets, automatic washing machines with a capacity between 6.0kg and 9.9kg are the preferred type.
The front loading vs top loading debate
According to data from Euromonitor International syndicated research, top loading formats for washing machines are still preferred the most at global level (due to the strong weight of China, where the top loading format dominates), but there is a visible trend of consumers moving towards front loading machines. According to the Analyst Pulse Survey, the front loading feature is more important to analysts in Europe, the US, Canada and the Caribbean, but of very little importance to analysts in Latin America or Asia Pacific. Nevertheless, the survey also revealed that format is of very little importance to Asia Pacific analysts, regardless of whether it is top or front loading. What is clearly visible is that, compared to green features like energy efficiency, format-related features like front or top loading are of less significance to analysts across all regions. The same is true for other appearance features, such as design, finish or colour, which are of particularly little importance to European analysts, who, on the other hand, place more importance, for example, on having a variety of temperatures to choose from.
Technological advancements still not at the top of consumer minds
A very telling revelation from the Analyst Pulse Survey was that technological advancements in washing machines, such as steam or soap releasing sensors, and even connectivity with smartphones or tablets, ranked very low among analysts in terms of preferred features. Out of the three, soap releasing sensors ranked highest, particularly in Latin America, North America and the Caribbean. In Latin America, this could have to do with the fact that it is still common and affordable to hire maids to do household chores and it is sometimes perceived as difficult to have them use the correct amount of detergent for each load. In North America, the main point behind self-dosing machines is not necessarily how much detergent is saved, it is the fact that it relieves part of the workload. This goes hand in hand with the intense desire for multifunctional appliances, which is a growing trend in North America at the moment. So, in that sense, they could have a more promising future than in other regions.
*Note: In Analyst Pulse surveys, Passport Survey reaches out to Euromonitor International’s network of in-country analysts and in-house researchers around the world in order to find out more about current consumer attitudes and habits on a wide variety of topics, from economic outlook to daily activities.
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