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Is there an increasing amount of luxurious products in bathrooms?

In the Netherlands, the stagnation of the real estate market leads to stagnation in the number of bathroom renovations as these markets are highly connected to each other. Even though the sales of bathroom articles might stagnate, this does not have to be the case for the turnover. Many players on the market expect that interest towards more luxurious and higher priced products will continue to grow. However, the USP Sanitary Monitor does not confirm these expectations. The popularity of luxurious sanitary products will most likely remain on the same level in the next couple of years and thus the turnover of the market could stay at the same level as well or might even decline.

Bathroom renovations do not grow much further

The amount of consumers doing a bathroom renovation has increased in the past 12 months (July 2018 to June 2019) to around 340.000. That is 0,9 percent more than the same period a year ago, but this growth rate is essentially lower than the 6% growth rate that we reported 24 months ago. One of the reasons for this decline is the stagnating real estate market. Due to long-known limitations on the amount of new build houses, i.e. shortage of labour and materials, the number of houses build does not increase as was hoped or planned. The nitrogen emission might even be a bigger issue for the housing market, as roughly 18.000 projects are now on hold. Since the housing market is currently stagnating and it is thus expected to remain the same (or decrease) in the near future, similar trends can be predicted on the sanitary market as well.

Popularity of luxurious products remains the same

According to retailers and installers of sanitary products, not all segments of the sanitary market will be affected by the stagnating market in the same way. For instance, bathroom retailers anticipate that comfort and luxury will become increasingly important for Dutch sanitary consumers. Therefore the purchase of more luxurious bathroom products would also rise. However, the numbers coming from the USP Sanitary Monitor do not reinforce these expectations.

First of all, during a bathroom renovation project, Dutch people do not spend more on products and materials than in previous years. The average expenditure for the materials remains pretty much at the same level, around 4.300-4.600 euros. Secondly, the share of consumers that bought and installed products with “luxury features” has also stayed more or less the same in the last four years. The figure below shows this proportion for the most common luxury products.

Lastly, people have a pretty mixed attitude towards new products like washbasins, shower faucets and ceramics in trendy colours like black, gold or bronze. Sanitary ware with these colours are considered more luxurious than the ‘standard’ silver colour. Therefore, the products in the trendy colours are more expensive than the silver products. Even though they might be trendy, one third of the people find that these colours require more maintenance and do not fit with the design of their bathroom.

New trends and innovations need time to become widely popular

Sanitary product manufacturers continuously show new designs and develop new features to attract new customers and hopefully gain more market share in a stagnating market. They set new trends to stimulate a higher level of purchase. Consequently, the overwhelming range of luxurious-looking products might create the feeling that there is also an equal level of demand towards these products. However, the USP Sanitary Monitor clearly shows that consumers are not there yet. People need more time to embrace these trends.