7 Global plumbing trends seen at ISH

April 7, 2017
Some of the trends seen at ISH are as follows:  1. More color options. 2. More alternative materials 3. More hands free options 4. Debut of sparkling water from the tap  

Every other year, the largest plumbing, heating and cooling show in the world takes place in Frankfurt, Germany. What gets displayed at Frankfurt’s ISH Show begins filtering to the rest of the world over the following years.

Here are seven trends in plumbing design.

1. More color options: There was a greater emphasis on color at this year’s show. Leading plumbing manufacturers are pushing an array of color options. Some are pastels. Some are bold.  Bottom line, color is becoming more than white or black. It is becoming more than chrome or brass.

Some of the color choices consumers have.

Plumbing manufacturers are expanding color options because of consumer desire. The key word is “desire.” People want choices, will pay more for them, and will replace working products in undesired colors/finishes for desired colors/finishes.

2. More alternative materials: In order to offer color options more unconventional materials are being used. Porcelain, especially, is being replaced with various types of cast composites and resins.  This is not a new trend, but an existing one that is accelerating.

ISH attendees enjoy sparkling water from the tap.

3. More hands free options: Hands free faucets are not new in Europe or the USA. However, they are not primarily confined to commercial applications. At ISH, new hands free options were displayed. These include infrared on faucets, push on, and now faucets that can be turned on by a foot tap under the sink.

4. Debut of sparkling water from the tap: New, this year, was sparking water from the tap.  This may sound farfetched, but five years ago American consumers purchased 1.2 million home carbonators per the New York Times. Certainly, the number is higher today. 

5. Aging in place emphasis: The economics behind retrofitting kitchens and baths to allow aging in place continues. Walk-in tubs, wheelchair friendly showers, wheelchair accessible sinks, grab bars including toilet grab bars, elevated toilets, and anti-scald valves are all part of an aging in place strategy.  Baby boomers are aging and prefer to stay at home as long as possible. Moreover, when the cost of assisted living is considered, kitchen and bath remodels look cheap. 

6. Increased light and sound: Bathing is experiential. This includes light and sound. While there was less emphasis on sound at the recent ISH, the emphasis on using LED lighting continued. This ranges from night lights integrated into toilets, to shower lighting, the lighting around mirrors and vanities.

7. The wired bath: As with the rest of the house, bathrooms are becoming part of the connected home subset of the Internet of Things. One of the more exciting products at ISH was a bathroom mirror that was also a computer touch screen, with the ability to interact with other devices in the house, play Internet and television videos, and more. While sales of this type of product may be limited today, they will get people to stop, take notice, and give consideration. Accordingly, plumbing contractors need to add an electrical capability in the future.

Stimulate demand

The opportunities for plumbers to offer products that consumers desire are growing. The revenue and gross profit from the sales and installation of these products far exceeds what you can achieve by chasing demand service. Of course, every service call can now be an opportunity to show people what’s available.

To take advantage of these trends, work with your suppliers now. Identify what they have in stock, or can get quickly, that you can offer to people on every service call, through your website, in email, and over social media. The time has come for plumbers to stimulate demand, not just react to it.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable. Need a speaker?The Service Roundtable will provide speakers to any meeting of contractors free of charge. Anytime. Anywhere. Visit www.ServiceRoundtable.com or call 877.262.3341 for more information.

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