Volume 44 Number 7
Creative Marketing: Neo-Cocooning at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show
Several photographs that illustrate this article are visible in the printed version of the article only. To receive a copy, please make a request at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the article title, author(s) name(s), the issue, your name and your fax number or full address in the email.
The 2002 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) was once again an island of prosperity in an uncertain business world, flourishing from continued low interest rates and other trends that favor home improvement of America’s two favorite rooms. Indeed, a recent U.S. Department of Commerce survey stated 70 percent of all construction and remodeling dollars go into kitchens and bathrooms. Also, a survey sponsored by CUNO claimed 20 percent of kitchen upgrades include water filtration.
Keynoting this year’s show was America’s foremost trend expert and founder of BrainReserve, Faith Popcorn. In 1981, this famous forward-thinking New Yorker spotted and named the “cocooning” trend that never really left us, but faded a bit through the booming ’90s. Now, says Popcorn, cocooning is an old trend with new legs since that fateful autumn day, as people seek to spend more time at home with loved ones.
“Fear is feeding cocooning,” says Faith. Fear of travel. Fear of the stock market that encourages most people to invest in their homes instead of Wall Street. Fear of new perceived threats to our homes and personal environment. She claims 22 percent more Americans are eating at home since 9/11. She sees a related trend to cocooning called “atmos-fear,” in which concerns over polluted air and contaminated water stir up consumer doubt and uncertainty. She predicts success for products that protect people from “the harsh realities of the outside world.” Some of Popcorn’s newest predictions involve water. She says, “Someday, faucets will deliver water infused with complete nutrition.” She also predicts the emergence of “showers with aromatherapy for mood adjustment.”
In her latest marketing manual, “The Origin of EVEolution,” Popcorn claims that more than 80 percent of all consumer purchases now involve women: “Women will influence the purchase of $4.4 trillion in consumer goods this year.” Should small businesses give up in an era of consolidation? Not according to Popcorn, who sees a grassroots countertrend she calls “icon toppling.” She explains, “A lot of people don’t believe in big companies any more.” This could mean better times ahead for small retailers and dealers.
Integral filter faucets
KWC introduced its line of Purejet kitchen mixers with separate water dispensers and pull-out spray for conventional water. First seen at Ideo Bain in Paris in February, Purejet systems also can include a carbonation hookup for dispensed sparkling water. KWC Faucets, of Norcross, Ga., is a subsidiary of KWC AG, Switzerland.
Jado launched its new Victorian Filter Faucet, a vintage-style faucet with activated carbon for taste and odor. Faucets come in chrome, bronze, brushed nickel and the company’s proprietary diamond finish. A 90-day filter life indicator and optional chiller are also available.
American Standard once again showed its line of ClearTap integral filter faucets, which include bathroom as well as kitchen models in a choice of finishes. All models feature carbon block technology to reduce cysts and lead as well as taste and odor. They show an electronic digital readout on the spout that counts down “gallons remaining” in the filter’s life. The single-lever faucet handle delivers filtered water through a separate tube in the spout. Shifting the lever to the right dispenses filtered water. Kitchen faucets feature a unique deck-plate mounting system that lets owners change filters without climbing under the sink. Bathroom filter faucets offer a wall-mounted cartridge that must be changed out under the sink. All ClearTap faucets are cast-brass construction with ceramic lifetime disc valve.
Kohler is now in its third year in point-of-use (POU) water treatment. The Aquifer water filtration system mounts under the sink, like the Franke units. Twist-off cartridges house carbon block 0.5-micron filters that provide a constant 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) flow rate (compared with 0.5 gpm for Moen faucets) and rated for 1,500 gallons. Canisters are fitted with commercial brass fittings and braided stainless steel hoses that resist pressure bursts, sometimes associated with plastic tubing. Model K-201 is NSF certified for taste, color and odor. Model K-202 is also rated for lead. Kohler’s Wellspring Beverage Faucets have a gooseneck design. Homeowners may purchase a complete system or purchase the filter and faucet separately.
Category “no shows” in Chicago included Price Pfister, which abandoned its fixed faucet filter line seen in years past; Delta, which built prototypes but has never introduced a production model filter faucet, and Grohe, which is said to have “no current interest” in filtration. Hansgrohe, another upscale German faucet manufacturer, is rumored to be developing an integral filter faucet for sometime next year.
Decorative POU faucets
Opella exhibited its new low-profile line of POU faucets with ceramic, disc radio, dial handles. The whole body of each unit is made from durable celcon plastic.
Traditional-style POU water treatment
GE, Watts/Premier, CUNO/Aqua-Pure and USFilter/American Plumber all showed undercounter reverse osmosis (RO) systems in Chicago. Premier’s RO featured its new zero-waste RO system.
American Plumber Water Filtration Products (the Plymouth Products unit of USFilter) showed its new undercounter RO system (model WRO-3167), rated for up to 26 gallons per day (gpd). The company also showed its lines of granular activated carbon (GAC) and carbon block cartridges.
Aqua-Pure, Everpure, Kenmore (Sears) and American Plumber all showed undercounter POU filtration with dedicated faucets and quick-change cartridges. The Sears dual-stage undercounter unit (model 38465) is rated for lead, cysts and MTBE.
The Aqua-Pure DWS-1000 with quick-change cartridges is a 625-gallon capacity unit rated for cysts, lead, MTBE and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The company was to introduce a line of decorator faucets in June.
Sears showed the only distillation product at K/BIS, a countertop unit (model 34481). It’s a six-gallon per day countertop appliance with one gallon carafe, carbon post-filter and electronic monitor. The Kenmore Deluxe brand distiller carries a SRP of $179.
While GE, Aqua-Pure, American Plumber and other K/BIS exhibitors offer water softeners to the kitchen and bath industry, only WaterBoss (Hague) showed a line of softeners in Chicago this spring.
Instant hot water filtration
Built-in ice/water filtration
Frigidaire (Electrolux) was the inventor of the “eye-level, in-cabinet” filter, which it named PureSource. Now in its third generation of ice/water treatment, called PureSource 2, an eye-level filter is now located up front, in the temperature control panel near the fresh food compartment of Frigidaire’s side-by-sides with ice/water service. PureSource 2 features twin carbon block filters, sealed in a single cartridge. The KX unit is said to “remove more contaminants by attacking even more herbicides, pesticides and mercury.” Twin filters are housed in a pull-out drawer and pop out at the push of a button. An electronic filter indicator monitors performance with a green/amber/red readout. The system promotes increased water flow through a new heavy-duty valve and large-capacity fill tubes. Frigidaire has also redesigned the ice and water dispenser on the freezer door exterior, to make it easier for consumers to fill pitchers, bottles and pots. PureSource 2 is available only in the top-of-the-line, Gallery Frigidaire side-by-side refrigerator/freezers.
The trend in all filtered water refrigerators is toward more sophisticated and more visible filter change monitors, which are increasingly seen on the front of the freezer door, or just inside the fresh food compartment. Selected GE and Frigidaire refrigerators have ice/water dispensers designed to fill pitchers and sports bottles.
LG Electronics USA, a North Korean major appliance manufacturer, debuted its Living Network System around its new Internet refrigerator. The Living Network is a wired, home Internet-based system that links other home appliances through the refrigerator, making extensive use of touch screens, electronic pen and voice messaging. Using these tools, consumers can check real-time grocery pricing, be reminded of scheduled events, and be informed when to change the refrigerator’s water filter.
Whirlpool and Kitchenaid side-by-sides feature water/ice dispenser “lock out” systems to childproof the front of their refrigerators.
Subzero, one of the last hold-outs in refrigerator water filtration, is said to be working with Kinetico to develop its first through-the-door ice and water system.
Coolers and POU filtration
Avanti showed its growing line of cabinet water coolers. Just two years in the business, the company now has eight floor models. It also sneak-previewed its new WD70F POU filtration system with cooled filtered water that was to be introduced in June.
BevStar chose to “trial balloon” a prototype, through-the-door, beverage dispensing system in a side-by-side refrigerator at its booth at K/BIS.
Shower filtration systems
About the author