There are a number of demographic factors affecting the UK bathroom market, which is mature and worth around £900 million at manufacturers selling prices, according to recently published research. Hayley Thornley, Head of Research at AMA Research, looks at the impact these factors are having on design and specification.

Brassware Design

Contemporary brassware dominates the UK bathroom market, from dramatic waterfall mixers to futuristic designs. But there is a growing sector of the market demanding features beyond a contemporary design, and until recently these features were only offered by specialist brassware suppliers. With the ageing UK population and the increasing number of people with disabilities, underlying demand for inclusively designed bathroom and kitchen products has steadily increased. Yet, inclusive design is evolving, with designers ensuring that their products and services address the needs of the widest possible audience, irrespective of age or ability.

Demographic Drivers

Much of this demand has been driven by improvements to healthcare and the standard of living, which is supporting population growth in the over 65 age group. The proportion of the population aged 65 and over was 11.8 million people in 2016 and this is expected to increase to 14.3 million by 2026. In addition, there are around 13.3 million people with a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability in the UK.

Other demographic drivers include the trend towards multi-generational living. This has positively impacted on demand for inclusive solutions throughout the home, such as showering areas that can be used by all members of the family irrespective of their age or ability. Traditionally this trend may have been attributed to older family members moving in with their children. However, more recently an increasing number of young adults, many with young children, are moving back to the parental home.

Design Trends

Rising demand for inclusive bathroom and kitchen products that are suitable for all users means that products have become more aesthetically pleasing. While the primary focus is on functionality, style is also now an equally important consideration.

With the ageing population and many people preferring to remain in their homes due to the cost of care, consumers are demanding attractive designs that will ‘future-proof’ and add value to their property; while remaining suitable for all family members to use. This has led to their traditional institutional appearance being gradually replaced with softer, more contemporary styles.

The Future

Demand for inclusive bathroom and kitchen products looks set to continue, driven by the increasing number of elderly and other drivers such as multi-generational homes.

As aesthetics grow in importance, the focus on quality and design will continue. Inclusive products that offer aesthetic appeal along with durability and ease of use will become key requirements.

Inclusive design will become more prevalent in other applications in the home, for example easy to clean rimless WC pans, digital shower controls, automatic rise and fall kitchen units, lever-operated or remote sensor operated brassware, shallow depth sinks, and large/deep storage drawers to name a few.

Other products include wetroom products and walk-in level access showering areas. These will progressively replace baths as they offer a much more practical and accessible alternative.

From a retail perspective, a higher level of demand from a wider audience will prompt a growing number of specialists, online retailers, merchants and distributors to offer inclusive products.

AMA Research offers a wide range of reports covering the bathroom sector, and you can learn more about the bathroom market and related products by visiting their website, or contacting them on 01242 235724.