Washing machines trending towards new features and larger capacities in 2021

GfK reports washing machines with steam and drum cleaning functions, and capacities larger than 8 kg are becoming more popular in the UK and Germany.

The market for large domestic appliances grew by more than 10% in Germany in 2020. Washing machines contributed to this with a sales increase of more than two%. Within this product range, two features stood out showing significant growth: Sales of washing machines with a capacity of more than 8 kg increased by 48%, reaching 16% of the total number of units sold in 2020. Washing machines with steam functionality were also popular, with sales growing by 27% in 2020.

The large domestic appliance market developed positively in the UK in 2020 as well, showing a sales growth of 8%. The washing machine range grew by just over 5%. Washing machines with a capacity of over 8 kg saw increased sales of almost 18% in the UK in 2020. However, this feature is more common in the UK, already at 36% of the total number of units sold. Washing machines with steam functionality showed a remarkable sales growth of 124% in 2020.

This trend has continued in both countries in the first quarter of 2021. Sales of large capacity washing machines (over 8 kg) have increased by 18%, and with steam functionality by almost 42% in Germany. This is all the more remarkable given that overall washing machine sales in the first quarter of 2021 fell by just under 6%. In the UK, sales of washing machines with a capacity of 8 kg or more increased by 6% and washing machines with steam functionality continued their strong performance with sales increasing by 174%. Although overall sales of washing machines in the UK are also lower, it is to a lesser extent, decreasing by about 3%.

GfK washing machines

Another new feature is gaining in importance in both the UK and Germany in 2021: Washing machines that have self-cleaning drums. With the launch of new models with this feature at the beginning of 2020, growth in sales has been positive. Washing machines with drum-cleaning features have achieved a total unit share of 54% in Germany and 50% in the UK. Due to the increased use of low temperature washing programmes, it is recommended to regularly clean washing machine drums for hygienic reasons. The self-cleaning that used to occur during hot 95-degree washing cycles rarely happens these days.

Dr. Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, explains: “In the large domestic appliance market range, the increased focus on home life in both Germany and the UK has been clearly visible over the past year. In addition, consumers are becoming more conscious of hygienic requirements with regard to the selection of additional features in modern washing machines.”

Source: All market figures provided by the GfK Panel.

Note: All percentages are based on matching periods in the previous year.

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