Living with Covid boosts interest in smart appliances

Consumers spending more time at home, increased concerns around hygiene and using smart appliances to help shielding family members are some of the reasons why brands have seen a rise in interest in smart appliances in the past six months.

With many restaurants and cafés closed, people have been eating at home and are using their kitchen appliances more. According to Miele, there has been a rise in appliances that are intended for passionate home cooks.

Cem Kal, product manager for cooking at Miele GB, said: “Consumers are spending more time cooking and entertaining at home and as a result, they are more invested in their kitchen appliances. We are seeing a continued demand for appliances that offer flexibility and precision to passionate home cooks, with customers looking for products that will make their everyday lives easier.”

Baking was on the rise during lockdown and Miele said it saw a rise in multifunctional ovens, such as steam combination ovens that are ideal for baking bread. Smart appliances also help novice cookers with step-by-step recipes that link up to the oven or hob to ensure precise cooking times for dishes. Another part of the appliance industry is booming is the coffee machine market, according to Miele.

Haier product manager Milo Cheney believes that customers are looking at improving the space they live in while they are stuck at home more. He said: “Consumers are spending more time at home, and although they have more time to do housework, it’s still seen as a chore. Rather than spending money on activities out of the home, they are focusing inward, and looking at improving the space they live in. This also involves making tasks they previously spent time on, more convenient and time efficient.”

Smart kitchen appliances have a variety of practical functions that can be used to by family members not living in the same home to check up on each other. For example, checking on an elderly relative’s food levels using an internal fridge camera.

Charmaine Warner, brand manager at Whirlpool, said: “During the pandemic, an increased number of consumers have been shielding or limiting the number or people visiting their homes. Connected appliances can offer support to those consumers through remote technology and therefore may be considered for a future purchase.”

Hygiene is top of everyone’s priority at the moment and remote-controlled smart appliances eliminate cross-contamination of surfaces. Warner said: “Hygiene is a key concern for consumers as we move into the ‘new normal’, especially when it comes to touching surfaces. Smart appliances that are controlled remotely may now be a considered a higher priority than before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Manufacturers have been able to respond quicker to new normal with their smart appliances, as all that is required is a software update rather than a brand-new product. Hoover, for example, has launched new wash cycles that are better at cleaning and sanitising.

Steve Macdonald, business director for Hoover’s freestanding division, said: “Advancements in smart technology give us as manufacturers opportunities to respond to situations, such as Covid-19, quicker than ever before. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, we created two downloadable washing cycles to sanitise and clean PPE which launched mid-July.”

BSH has seen as increase in smart appliance usage. James Kington, group manager for connected home and digital operations at BSH Home Appliances, said: “It’s too early to say at the moment with any certainty what effect this will have, though we have seen an increase in usage as so many people are at home. This can only be a good thing in the long term, as more users gain a deeper familiarity with smart technology and start to realise for themselves its potential.”

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