Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corporation is a global maker of household appliances. Photo via fb.com
What do consumers really want in the next generation of appliances?
That’s a question Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool delved into in a national survey.
Time for relationships
While refrigerators may be able to make phone calls, is that a feature anyone really cares about?
The answer is no, according to survey results released last week by Whirlpool.
Consumers are looking for products that make everyday tasks like dish washing, laundry and food preparation quicker and easier, so they have more time to spend with family and friends.
Braun Research, which conducted the telephone survey of 1,003 American homeowners on behalf of Whirlpool, found that 83 percent of those surveyed said they're always looking for ways to spend more quality time with family, and 48 percent of homeowners said doing daily chores cuts into that time.
On average, consumers can spend up to 11 hours combined each week on preparing meals, washing clothes and doing dishes.
Consumers, including millennials, are also concerned with the negative impacts of technology on relationships.
Whirlpool reported that 79 percent of survey participants said technology could diminish personal relationships, and 87 percent of millennials, known for their penchant for technology, agreed.
“It's really about creating appliances that will allow consumers to get back to doing what matters most — spending time with family and friends,” said Brett Dibkey, VP of Integrated Business Units, Whirlpool.
To help save time, the vast majority of homeowners want easy-to-clean appliances, with 93 percent of respondents saying that's something they care about.
Among easy-to-clean product desires, 39 percent of respondents are looking for cooktops that don't stain, and 33 percent are looking for ranges that are easy to clean.
Energy efficiency also remains a top priority for consumers, with 95 percent of survey respondents saying they're interested in energy-efficient appliances. Many appliance makers have already been developing products with enhanced energy-efficiency designs and that will continue.
One tech-driven feature in particular that 38 percent of consumers are asking for is clothes washers that dispense detergent based on the dirtiness of clothing.
Other features consumers would like to see include the ability to pull up recipes from a countertop (50 percent), dry cleaning technology in the home (47 percent) and appliances that fold clothes (46 percent).
Whirlpool is already introducing appliances to meet several of consumers’ feature requests.
The company said it's "purposeful technology is available right now" and cited several examples: precision dispense features on select Whirlpool and Maytag brand washers; easy-to-clean ceramic glass on select cooktops and time-saving products such as the Swash 10-minute clothing care system by Proctor & Gamble and the Whirlpool brand.
Whirlpool said that the "possibilities for the future are endless."