The global small appliances market grew by 3% in 2021, reaching sales of 2.57 billion units.
- Major drivers in the early half of the year continued to be stimulus packages, low interest rates, continued hybrid working arrangements and a booming housing market. However, inflation dampened demand in the second half of the year.
- With demand for basic food preparation and cooking appliances reaching a peak towards the end of 2020 and in early 2021, consumers’ focus switched. Throughout 2021, the focus was on eating better, home health and hygiene, and personal feel-good products.
- Appliance versatility was also in focus. With homes becoming increasingly congested, multifunctional appliances, although more expensive, were winners in the fight for kitchen space. For example, the Bosch Cookit can perform up to 27 functions.
- In terms of hygiene, wet and dry vacuum cleaners gained popularity in China. Tineco, a Ecovacs brand, grew by over 100% in volume terms in 2021. Tineco simplifies the process of cleaning hard floors for Chinese households, where a mop or wet vacuum is usually used after dust suction.
- Lastly, ecosystem collaborations in the major appliances space were trickling into small appliances. Haier ventured into air care, adding a scent module to its air conditioners, and partnered with scent producers to provide exclusive scents.
What are the trends shaping the industry?
It was interesting observing consumer trends over the last two years. When the pandemic took hold in early 2020, there was a scramble for breadmakers. After more than a year, many of these breadmakers are now in storage. With space a constraint for many consumers, they had to decide which appliances had shelf space primacy. Many turned to more versatile appliances.
As home cooking became the norm and the appliances needed bought, many turned to other parts of the home. High growth categories shifted from major appliances to small appliances, predominantly in the areas of food preparation and hygiene.
In the longer term, Euromonitor International expects the following trends to have a major impact on the industry.
Holistic home health and hygiene
After the initial phase of incessant hand washing and sanitising, consumers have moved to more holistic home health and hygiene awareness. This method goes beyond the virus itself (ie germ-killing) to advocating a lifestyle – be it a healthy diet or hygienic air.
A healthy diet is a perfect example of a well-rounded approach to home and personal health. Consumers are focused on preventative rather than curative outcomes, i.e., how to stay healthy and reduce the chances of falling sick in the first place.
With health in mind, air frying is a category that keeps growing at elevated levels. Air fryers, which Euromonitor International tracks under the light fryers category, grew at ~15% in 2021. Air frying is perceived to be healthier than traditional deep-frying, and is increasingly being marketed as such. Ninja’s Foodi positions itself as the “health grill” for consumers who want to maintain a healthy diet.
Self-care bolsters “feel-good” products
External uncertainties caused by the pandemic have led consumers to refocus on themselves. Small appliances that elevate experiences at home and have a “feel-good” factor have been in demand. These appliances are perceived as stress-relieving and spirit-lifting for consumers.
Emerging personal care appliances, such as small massagers, premium beauty devices and espresso coffee machines, are expected to continue to benefit, supported by both the self-care trend and the shift in demand from professional services to care at home.
According to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition survey 2021, more than 50% of global respondents rank personal wellbeing in the top three factors that are important to them, a significant 20 percentage point increase compared with the survey in 2015.Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, 2021, n=21,460.
Homes are expected to become increasingly congested, and the trend is towards smaller living spaces in the longer term. With space a constraint, consumers are likely to spend more on the few appliances they have, with manufacturers continuing to make advances in technological capabilities.
Versatility will be a key differentiator to compete for consumers’ time and space, increase convenience and make consumers’ lives simpler.
The Bosch Cookit is an interesting product that encapsulates this trend. This smart food processor can perform up to 27 functions, enabled by attachments, including puréeing, braising and sous-vide. The machine also has step-by-step guided cooking, with over 140 pre-set recipes and Alexa access, and is connected to the BSH Home Connect app.
Bosch Cookit: Smart food preparation and cooking hybrid
AI in small appliances
AI is quite common in high-end smart major appliances. However, due to pricing, it is less common in small appliances. However, this is changing, with categories such as vacuum cleaners, premium air conditioners, coffee machines and cosmetic beauty devices gradually adopting AI. This helps to offer the personalised experience consumers want from these products.
In vacuum cleaners, the global average unit price of robotic vacuum cleaners has started to rise since 2019, following a decreasing price trend due to initial adoption. The increase in price over the forecast period is expected to be supported by manufacturers’ efforts to seek technological upgrades, such as the usage of AI to improve product performance, increase satisfaction and further drive mass popularity through value addition.
An interesting use of AI is Samsung’s JetBot 90 AI+. It uses leading object recognition technology for more accurate navigation, object evasion and cleaning route mapping. The model is said to utilise a self-driving car-level LiDAR sensor to achieve a higher level of precision. Due to the cost of the LiDAR sensor, it is not cheap, retailing at USD1,299 in the US.
Samsung JetBot 90 AI+: AI improves product performance
Opportunities in ecosystem partnerships
Ecosystem partnerships have been heavily investigated by major appliances manufacturers and are becoming pivotal for small appliances manufacturers. Such partnerships can help manufacturers seek new streams of revenue and business opportunities through bundle sales, subscriptions with consumable brands or private label, and the shared and circular economy.
For small appliances companies, this could mean that they need to integrate their food processors into the greater food preparation ecosystem, together with meal kits. Or, in Haier’s case, the need to venture into consumables. In 2021, Haier ventured into air care, adding a scent module to its air conditioners, and partnered with scent producers to provide exclusive scents.
Haier: Air Conditioners with Air Care
As we approach the endemic phase of COVID-19, it will be interesting to see how these trends play out. It is likely that consumers’ focus on self-care and feeling good will be a leading factor in their small appliances purchasing decisions.
For further insight, read our briefing, World Market for Small Appliances.