MIND THE GAP


Designing Times

KBIS once again attracted over 31,000 attendees, 600 exhibitors, and a social media following that was projected to reach nearly 100,000. KBIS is considered to be North America’s largest trade show dedicated to all aspects of kitchen and bath design. The show is organized by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), a non-profit trade association that represents the industry and now maintains approximately 14,000 members across North America. Established in 1963 as a network of kitchen dealers, it has since grown into a broader group of distributors, retailers, remodelers, manufacturers, fabricators, designers, and industry professionals. In 1964, NKBA launched its first kitchen show, which attracted approximately 24 exhibitors and 250 attendees.

While the show has grown year-over-year, it is now hosted in conjunction with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), further illustrating the broad and significant impact that the associations bring to the industry. The NKBA, however, does far more than bring together exhibitors and attendees for an annual trade show. The NKBA strives to keep its members up-to-date with industry-specific insights on technology, creation, and consumer behaviors and product trends. It facilitates professional development, certifications, lends credibility to design firms, showrooms, and businesses ranging from small to large manufacturers. NKBA’s national board of directors is made up of industry leaders, many of which come from major appliance industry backgrounds.

KBIS Trade Floor

The Pulse of CES

As part of our analytical reporting and insight delivery, we keep a pulse on major manufacturers’ product debuts, launches, and announcements. For several years, CES has long served as the platform from which we would learn of upcoming major appliance lineups, what we should expect to see hit the retail channel and when, and what emerging technological trends would be brought to market. The prevalence of major appliances gaining a spotlight at CES first happened in the early 2000’s and was largely evoked by Samsung and LG as they leaned on their CE foundations and preexisting presence at CES. With technology and smart home connectivity at the forefront, Samsung and LG showcased their sexy and sleek appliances amidst TVs, home audio systems, and connected PCs. Whirlpool, on the other hand, maintained its strong roots and exhibited off of the main convention floor, highlighting the evolving need for technology but more so keeping strong in its vision to purposefully serve the needs of families.

This year marked a notable shift in CES and the showcasing of major appliances. As we do each year, we reached out to our clients and industry colleagues to schedule meet-ups, all with the goal in mind of supporting strategic needs, learning about product lineups, and broadening our knowledge base on the year ahead. While many clients did still showcase selections of home appliance products at CES, we resoundingly learned across the board that KBIS was slated to be the main show for the industry. While CES represents a considerable and significant opportunity for appliance manufacturers to claim their presence (not to mention the millions of dollars invested), the shift to move their respective appliance showcases and investments to KBIS illustrates a return to a design and builder focused market.

House Hunters

According to recent reports, the residential kitchen and bath market represents $147.3 billion annually.  But what about the current situation of the housing market? Housing market activity continued to soften throughout the end of 2018 and construction fell slightly for both single-family and multi-family housing. Similarly, home purchases continued to decline for both new single-family and previously owned existing homes. While this is occurring, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a co-sponsor of KBIS, estimates that the Remodeling Market Index (RMI) is remaining stable and has remained consistently above 50, a reflection that nationwide, home owners continue to drive demand for kitchen and bath remodels. Positive home value growth, albeit at a slightly lower rate, and strong consumer confidence are supporting a steady home remodel rate”.

RMI Future Market Indicators

The kitchen is the showpiece of the modern home. With the trend toward open-floorplans, the kitchen quite literally sets the stage for the design elements found throughout the rest of the home. In fact, according to recent reports released by Realtor.com, homes that go on the market with the description of having a “luxury kitchen” sell faster and command a higher selling price than similar-sized homes located within the same zip code that do not tout upgraded kitchens. Not only are design trends and modern kitchens more popular than ever and littered all across our social media outlets, but the dynamic of cooking, and dare I say who we find cooking in the kitchen, could not be more different than 50 years ago. As trends continue to drive design focused aesthetics, our evolving world concurrently drives consumer electronic and smart based innovation. KBIS serves as a platform to marry the two.

Lineup Showdown

As a shift this year, Samsung relocated its North America showcase from CES to KBIS. The manufacturer’s showcase is a significant investment as it is typically held offsite and includes each individual product that is expected to debut in 2018. Not only does this showcase allow industry analysts and press to learn about upcoming lineups, it more so allows buyers and retailers to meet and discuss planned products for the upcoming year. The fact that this major manufacturer made a significant investment highlights its strategic shift to further target the design focused aspect and demographics of KBIS attendees. By moving to KBIS, Samsung and its competitors not only met with their buyers, but also strived to position their products in front of the home builder market, designers, interior design firms, and beyond. Samsung showcased its entire lineup of appliances with a focus on design focused color variations. While black stainless steel emerged and gained popularity within the past few years, several brands look to expand upon their options. Samsung’s rumored champagne gold color took display at KBIS and will directly compete against similar offerings by Whirlpool’s long offered Sunset Bronze warm golden hue.

LG&Samsung Color Trends

LG is also investing heavily in KBIS with two separate booths; one for its namesake lineup and an additional for its premium Signature suite of products. LG’s Signature series competes with the likes of Thermador, Viking, and Jenn-Air. Signature elevates the design focused aesthetic by pairing it with professional style appliances. While LG developed and manufactured its premium lineup, Samsung acquired Dacor to enter this similar space.

GE Color trend

GE will continue to lean into and act on its multi-brand strategy, deploying separate booths for various stand-alone brands, Monogram, Café, and its namesake GE. GE’s Café series particularly was positioned to lean heavily into a design centric display, showcasing its matte white color with customizable handles and finishing features. Electrolux demonstrated a similar presence asa brand that has long showcased at KBIS and strayed from CES, illustrating its tenured focus on the design and builder industry.

gap intelligence will be in attendance at KBIS and will be providing a comprehensive wrap-up once the event concludes. If you are interested in learning more about the market coverage and analysis available to the home appliance industry, please reach out to: info@gapintelligence.com.