Source: CHEAA-run China Appliance

Affected by the tightened eligibility rules on house buying and the downward economic pressure, dishwasher sector slows down its triple-digit growth that has lasted for years, yet still outperforms traditional kitchen appliance sectors such as hoods and ranges with exceptionally strong production and sales. In the past 2018, the sector posted retail sales value of 5.92billion Yuan and volume of 1.356 million units, a year-on-year growth of 36.5% and 37.7% respectively, according to China Market Monitor.

In this context, an influx of ambitious players flock to the market to seek an opportunity. In 2018 alone, more than 55 brands emerged and over 200 models, mostly in-sink models and fully-integrated in-sink models, were placed on the market, according to China Market Monitor. The sector is expected to see intensified competition and fast market expansion down the road.

A broad slowdown of growth

Looking back at the development of Chinese dishwasher industry starting from 2015, it’s safe to say it has been growing with an awful lot of momentum. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the sector posted a whopping growth rate of 70.3%, 102.3% and 129.4% respectively in retail sales volume, according to China Market Monitor. Heading into 2018, it slowed down its growth but at a rate still higher than most kitchen appliance sectors and kitchen appliance industry in general. The slowdown in retail sales was believed to be in connection with several factors, such as the skyrocketing growth in the past few years, China’s tightened eligibility rules on house buying and the rise of luxury new homes with appliances pre-installed.

Speaking of the slowdown, Wang Zhenglei, Senior Director of Marketing of the dishwasher division of BSH China, says, it is in line with the development pattern of emerging categories. Lu Feifei, Product Director of Robam, believes consumers have returned to a more sensible level after knowing more of the product in the past two years when dishwasher sector snowballed.

For dishwasher makers, the business growth has been remarkable. BSH secured its position as the top player by market share in 2018 with sales growth good as expected, particularly sales of full-size dishwashers. Its freestanding models and built-in models both accounted for 80% of the market share in respective category, and its compact models also took a rather big share. The overwhelming market share cannot be achieved without the company’s localization strategy, Wang Zhenglei says. The new lines of Siemens and Bosch rolled out in 2018 were designed very much to the likings of Chinese consumers and they received great responses with specially designed racks, super clean rinse procedure and the height of 77.5cm. “We offer a package of services including on-site design recommendations, free delivery, plumbing remodeling, hole drilling, free installation, free trial packages, free guidelines and maintenance to truly address the challenges that get in the way of consumers in installation and use, which effectively propels our business to grow.” Wang Zhenglei says.

Known as the inventor of in-sink dishwasher, Fotile exceeded its sales target of 2018 with its in-sink dishwashers accounting for nearly 40% of the market. The company joined hands with several big channels to offer professional installation services for consumers, which, coupled with its strong products, received great feedbacks from consumers, as we learn from our interviewee from Fotile. Plus, Fotile’s campaign titled “mom’s time machine” rouses consumers’ emotions for family, promoting its brand recognition effectively.

With its market share up by 10%, Robam’s sales last year was in line with its expectation. Lu Feifei introduces to our reporter that, “Robam rolled out W712 and W702 last year, which were pitched to meet high-range demands and mid-range demands respectively. W702, our first under-sink dishwasher, renovated its drawer dishwasher design to well fit it under the sink. The product receives high praises from many families with compact kitchens after being placed on the market.”

Sacon’s sales of dishwashers was satisfactory last year, according to the company’s Marketing Director Hou Weidong. Panasonic’s dishwasher business posted a 50% growth last year. AEG saw its dishwasher business expand fast in Chinese market.

Built-in models remain to be the mainstream

Of the four typical types of dishwashers, which are built-in models, freestanding models, countertop models and in-sink models, built-in dishwashers took the largest market share thanks to its appealing style and space-saving design. Freestanding models and compact models, suited for homes with finished decorations, grow at a steady pace.

BSH is one of the dishwasher makers that offer full-range products to Chinese consumers. There’s always a BSH dishwasher for every customer. For small families, a countertop could be a good option. For compact kitchens, a slimline freestanding or built-in model is suitable. For standard-size cabinets, consumers could go for compact built-in model. Designed for standard 60cm×60cm space, BSH’s compact built-in dishwashers can fit in an integrated kitchen cabinet perfectly. By market share, BSH’s freestanding dishwashers and built-in dishwashers both took a share of around 80%, and its compact built-in models accounted for more than 50%.

Robam offers conventional built-in dishwashers, drawer dishwashers and models that can be placed built-in or over a counter, with drawer dishwashers accounting for the biggest share and conventional built-in models currently most strongly promoted.

AEG provides built-in models and freestanding models. The company’s built-in models are mostly designed for standard 60cm wide space, but it also rolls out compact built-in products for 45cm wide space to target Chinese families with compact kitchens.

Panasonic, a fresh entrant to Chinese dishwasher market, has countertop models and built-in models under its umbrella. The company’s built-in dishwashers are mostly drawer types. This strongly promoted model integrated Panasonic’s several leading technologies and performs exceedingly well in drying and rinsing. Jin Xiangping from kitchen division of Panasonic believes drawer dishwasher is a better option for Chinese consumers compared to other models. Currently, more and more brands are looking at drawer models, a category with flat sales now but promising prospect in the future.

Believing in product variety, Whirlpool offers dishwashers at various heights and for different kitchen spaces including fully-integrated models, semi-integrated models, freestanding models, countertop models and in-sink models. This allows the company to be one of the few players capable of offering solutions for different homes.

In-sink dishwashers rise to be a new star

Growing amid heated disputation, in-sink dishwashers continue to rise. At AWE 2019, many brands rolled out in-sink dishwashers such as thirteen-in-one in-sink dishwasher from Sacon, super clean in-sink dishwasher from DE&E, in-sink washer from Oulin and magnetic suspension in-sink dishwashers from Konka, aside from original inventor Fotile who displayed its Q8 in-sink dishwasher at the show.

Fotile developed in-sink dishwashers based on the habits of Chinese consumers. Creatively adding pesticide residue removing procedure while placing the dishwasher in a sink to save space, in-sink dishwashers expand fast in market share.

Speaking of the influx of new entrants, our interviewee from Fotile expresses his concerns, “The development of in-sink dishwashers require strong technological capability. Fotile uses a no-pipeline chamber to allow fruits and vegetables and dishes cleaned in the same chamber. If a conventional dishwasher is adjusted only in size to fit into a sink, it is misleading for consumers and will eventually hurt the industry development in the long round.” Zhang Wei from AEG believes that in-sink dishwasher is only a transitional product that meet the needs of consumers with compact kitchens currently. Large-capacity built-in dishwashers in standard size or compact built-in dishwashers are the future.

Regarding the future of the industry, we learn that most brands remain bullish on dishwashers and will continue to expand in the field.