04 August 2010

MARKET ANALYSIS: Digital showers

Aug Roger Crabb mira

Roger Crabb, marketing manager at Mira Showers, takes a look at the digital shower sector... 

Despite well-publicised difficulties in the sector during the recession, one segment of the showers market has been doing rather well. 

Once exclusively upmarket, digital products are now found in merchants and mass retail outlets at increasingly affordable prices. The technology is tried and trusted too - digital long having been a mainstay of the commercial bathroom market, where precise

temperature control and no-touch technology are essential features in healthcare and other situations.

Firm figures on the volume of digital products entering the market are hard to come by, not least because at least one manufacturer chooses to hide its light under a bushel and not share its data with either the Building Services Research and Information Association

(BSRIA) or BRG Consult.

That said, we do know digital showers currently account for less than 5% of the UK shower market by volume. But the sector has seen considerable growth since the first model was launched in 2001.

That growth is anticipated to increase dramatically over the next few years as the technology becomes more accessible, prices fall and the 'smart home' concept increasingly takes hold. It is estimated that digital's share of the market will double over the next five years, though that estimate could prove conservative. 

In the context of the smart home, the prospect of automation has been much vaunted over the past few decades, but has yet to make real inroads into the market. However, a proliferation of new wireless and networkable devices is bringing the prospect of advanced control into the realms of the possible.

Digital showering is just one example whereby, for instance, showers can be set to warm up before use or the duration fixed for greater water efficiency. Other benefits include: ease of installation, as the valve can be located away from the showering area; remote

or wireless control, whereby temperature and flow preselection are memorised for a personalised showering experience; and the opportunity to create iconic designs by using hidden valves, touch-screen displays, remote controls and sleek fittings.

Fully integrated wireless control could also deliver in a variety of applications - one, say, where a group of appliances are managed as a unit. Such networking - especially where

interoperability exists - doesn't limit the use of such controls to any one device. They can also be deployed to operate lighting, home AV systems, security, and even climate controls.

Consequently, market composition of the shower control sector is expected to change from its historical split between traditional mixer and electric showers to further encompass digital, as these products offer consumers benefits not available through traditional products.

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