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There were 219 million households registered in the EU28 in 2015, with almost a 96% possession rate for automatic washing machines, which equated to an operational machine population of some 209 million units in 2015.

Laundry appliances’ purchasing drivers are multiple and although price will remain one of the most powerful, consumers have, it appears, begun to look beyond price and laundry settings have become a strong tool leveraged during the selling process.

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On average 16 programme settings are displayed on the consumer interface, while consumers typically make use of only two or three settings for the majority of their laundry, which says a lot about the relevance of laundry settings to consumer lifestyles. Over the 10-year lifespan of a typical machine in Western Europe how relevant do laundry settings remain? Consumers’ needs can significantly change over a 10-year period, so manufacturers must figure out a way to make the dial more flexible and iron out problems associated with obsolescence or, at least, the perception of obsolescence.

In a fast-paced environment where apparel trends, consumer lifestyles and sociodemographic dynamics are changing rapidly, connectivity will support manufacturers’ goal of remaining relevant to consumers throughout the whole replacement cycle of the laundry appliance.

Smart washing machines’ take-off is in manufacturers’ hands

There were high expectations for the Smart Home, but consumers haven’t been that thrilled, at least so far, by the benefits, mostly intangible, offered through connectivity.

As for now, connected washing machines have not met with the success that might have been hoped for, as they remain premium. On top of that, affluent consumers have been reluctant to take the plunge as they wouldn’t see substantial added value to justify such a high unit price. Washing machine manufacturers must understand that turning a washing machine on and off from a smartphone is not good enough for consumers to purchase a laundry appliance priced at over USD1,000. There is so much more washing machine manufacturers could provide…

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Generating revenue, resource cost-saving and productivity gain are some tangible benefits connected washing machines could offer. Beyond tracking which cycles consumers are using the most, washing machine manufacturers could financially reward consumers willing to communicate on their laundry habits and laundry detergent consumption data through the washing machine smartphone app. Load-detection technology should be a must-feature on all connected washingmachines to save on energy and water by only using the appropriate amount of resources for small or big loads, and to send a user notification when more items should be loaded in the drum. Time is a tangible benefit (after all, time is money), and it should be associated with productivity, as time consumers spend doing laundry is time lost to perform other activities that could directly or indirectly build wealth.

Would “We can’t please everyone” be a saying of the past?

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Considering the fact that connected home laundry appliances will eventually take off, staying relevant to consumers through personalised and downloadable settings will then be child’s play.

Giving the consumer the power to customise and change the list of washing machine programme settings at any time throughout the replacement cycle is a way manufacturers can establish long-term relationships with their customers. It is also a way to satisfy everyone. When looking to replace or purchase for the first time a washing machine, consumers look at the dial thinking of their current lifestyles. How would they be able to know if within 10 years they will need a Baby Care programme? Downloadable settings would ease the purchasing-making process for consumers by assuring them that they will be provided with programme settings for their current and future lifestyles. Customer satisfaction can be improved by giving users control over the washing machine dial. At the end of the day, they are the ones who know what they want, so instead of guessing, why don’t manufacturers let users lead the game?

For in-depth analysis and drivers of innovation in programme settings, please review our latest global report Dial up: Laundry Settings Echoing Consumer Lifestyles to Remain Relevant

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