Wi-fi will dominate in laundry and refrigeration, says Futuresource

Wi-fi is expected to dominate in the smart refrigeration and laundry appliance markets, according to Futuresource.

The latest Worldwide Home Appliance Market report from Futuresource Consulting found that sales of connected refrigerators and washing machines more than doubled in 2017, and are on course to account for more than half of the global market by 2021.

Wi-fi was found to dominate in the smart appliance market thanks to its ability to feed back data to manufacturers, which in the long term would offer them the opportunity to become service providers.

Futuresource Consulting market analyst Filipe Oliveira said: “Wireless wi-fi connectivity not only allows appliances to be remotely monitored, controlled or upgraded, but the wealth of consumer data that can be collected from them is one of the key triggers for appliance vendors. It opens the door for major players to reposition their businesses from manufacturer to service provider.”

However, the report found that while connectivity was being widely adopted, voice personal assistants (VPAs) had yet to impact the smart laundry and refrigeration market in the same way as in other areas of the smart home.

“While voice may not be a determinant factor in appliances, Artificial Intelligence (AI) definitely is,” explained Mr Oliveira. “Devices that learn and adapt to the profiles of each household, that adjust their consumption to save both costs and energy and that manage consumables appeal to consumers. Manufacturers that move more quickly to integrate AI, and that manage to do so cost-efficiently, will hold an advantage.”

Laundry is currently a €40.8 billion (£36.3bn) market and refrigeration is worth €40.5bn, comprising 256 million laundry and refrigeration appliances at the end of 2017. This figure is expected to reach 290m in 2021.

Value is growing faster than volume as a result of a moderate increase in unit prices.

Smart appliances currently account for three per cent of global shipments in these categories.

“The pressure caused by escalating production costs is one reason average prices have risen in 2017 – the first increase since 2014,” added Mr Oliveira. “Another factor is the consumer’s appetite for appliances that sell at higher price points. This trend towards premiumisation is evident in demand for high capacity washing machines, multi-door fridge-freezers, stylish designs and also smart appliances.”