The UK showering market has enjoyed many years of growth, but it is not immune to a slowdown in the economy as a result of the blame-all/excuse-all credit crunch.

The value of the market currently stands at around £250m. By volume, Electric showers and Mixer showers make up the vast majority of sales with electric showers contributing around 55% and mixers around 40%. Power showers account for around 6% units per annum.

Paradoxically for manufacturers such as Redring, who are investing significantly in new products and technologies, the current climate provides new opportunities with customers looking for the right solution or product innovation.

The key for manufacturers is to identify the most important factors determining the choice of shower. Is it performance? Is it price? Is it the brand or the model? Is the purchase planned or is it a distressed purchase?

Showers are sold through trade and retail markets.

The retail market is driven by brands, product aesthetics and selling prices in store. Consumers are focused upon the look and feel of products and the idea of aspirational bathrooms.

In the trade market things are slightly different. Products are more likely to be specified or chosen by the installer. Choices will largely be dependent upon, product performance, a robust product guarantee and the brand being one that the installer believes can be trusted so he is not called back to site.

To help consumers make the right choice and to help them to regain their confidence during a period of more discerning purchases, Redring is adopting a solutions driven approach. For example, in a replacement situation, we understand that when you buy a new shower you may need to re-tile or that you may need to position the shower in a different place altogether. Multi-entry showers are making this whole process easier as they allow pipework to enter the shower either down the right or left hand side of the shower

Redring's new thermostatic mixer shower the Selectronic Mixer, for example, utilises the riser rail to route the hot and cold water supplies through the ceiling giving it one of the quickest installation times on the market. It fits to just about any plumbing system, on virtually any pressure, from 0.1 Bar to 7 Bar as well as offering a superb temperature response, with automatic shutdown if the cold water supply fails.

There are also, however, diverse and conflicting factors at work within the market. On one hand consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware, driven arguably by the increasing cost of utility bills such as water, gas, and electricity to be more conscious of water conservation and reducing their bills.

There has, for example, been a long-term trend away from taking a daily bath to a daily shower, as they allow considerable water saving to be made. This showering trend is also evident in terms of potential changes to building regulations; everything is becoming more environmentally friendly and there is a real emphasis on using fewer resources.

On the other hand however, there is also undoubtedly a growing trend of homeowners having more than one shower and having more luxurious bathrooms. This has partly been due to showering having become, over the last decade, a more luxurious and lifestyle driven experience aided by the emergence of home makeover shows. Also partly due to the housing market slow down, rather than move, homeowners have been continuing to upgrade their own properties – seeking solace in the luxury of a new bathroom.

Demographics and socio-economics have also played a part in this trend. In the UK we are seeing increasing cases of single occupancy, for reasons such as people marrying later in life, more people getting divorced and living alone and an aging population. This has been reflected in the types of properties being constructed with a substantial increase in the number of flats and apartments being built, or homes that were designed specifically for families with en-suites and ‘Jack and Jill’ bathrooms.

Wet rooms too, although costly and a niche part of the market, have in some instances become an aspirational bathroom solution. Although in the short term, as end users are becoming more money conscious, the market for them will remain niche, they still make up an important sector of the market.

Ultimately whether bathrooms become increasingly environmentally friendly or increasingly expensive and glamorous will depend on factors such as Government regulations related to domestic water usage, the effect of socio-economics on housebuilding and the price of amenities.

What is certain, though, is that manufacturers must be ready to take advantage of opportunities within the market and that they must continue to innovate to provide a greater choice of solutions.

The development of inclusively designed showering solutions, which cater for the less able and the elderly, while still maintaining a mainstream aesthetic appeal is a major way ahead. As is the development of eco-friendly showering options, that reduce water usage and therefore consumer bills. The development of showering options that enhance the ease of fitting is another – all of these will play a part in the makeup of the market over the coming years.

Redring believes that being positive and taking swift, decisive action in delivering exactly what the market and the installer wants could well keep the showers market on an upward trend.

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