The British consumer market spent £4.74bn on household appliances in the first half of 2020, and a further £316m on product repair. Consumers love buying the latest household tech, but when it comes to larger appliances like washing machines, repairs and replacements can be more stressful.
This is especially true when living in an area of the country that has hard water, and the replacement appliance is needed because of limescale buildup. Our latest customer survey revealed that a quarter of customers found replacing and servicing appliances was the worst thing about having hard water.
This blog post will look at overall consumer trends to see how much Brits are spending unnecessarily on replacement appliances. It will also look at the household appliances people in England are eying up the most around Black Friday, and whether search volumes for water appliances like kettles and washing machines are higher in hard water areas.
Brits spend almost £4m per month on wasted appliances
Our research reveals that British consumers are potentially spending an average of £3.8 million per month on unnecessary appliances in hard water areas of the country – money that could have been saved by preserving the appliance’s life with softer water.
We looked at the average cost of six common household water appliances and sourced the average prices from which.co.uk. We looked at each product’s average monthly search volume using Google Keyword Planner and worked out how many appliances would be bought each month using online shopping conversion rates.
By our own estimates, around 48% of the UK’s population live in an area with soft water, so if we consider that purchases from the remaining 52% of the country were as a result of living in an area with hard water, around 12,500 appliances could have been avoided if the water was treated.
This is not to say that appliances in soft-water areas never need to be replaced. However, it goes to show the possible savings consumers in hard water areas could make if they decided to treat their water instead – something to consider before buying a new kettle or washing machine this Black Friday.
|Appliance||Washing Machine||Tumble Dryer||Kettle||Dishwasher||Coffee Machine||Water Heater|
|Search vol (Nov. 2019)||1,000,000||823,000||1,000,000||368,000||673,000||14,800|
|Est. purchases per month||6,100||5,020||6,100||2,245||4,105||90|
|Purchases in hard water areas||3,172||2,611||3,172||1,167||2,135||47|
England’s high-traffic areas for Black Friday deals
In addition to potential savings, we also looked at the areas in England consumers are most frequently searching for Black Friday deals.
London, Manchester and the West Midlands had the country’s three highest search volumes in November 2019. However, searches for Black Friday deals in the Birmingham area were higher as a proportion of the population, with nearly 25 searches per 100,000 of the population. Bristol and Bedfordshire had the highest relative volume of searches, both with over 30 per 100,000 people.
|County||Total SV (November 2019)||Searches per 100k of population|
Naturally, search volume on average was higher for consumer tech products such as iPads, iPhones and TVs. However, washing machines proved a popular choice for consumers with an average of 10,000 searches for November 2019.
How did we gather the data?
We have taken ten commonly sought-after household appliances and used Google Keywords planner to find out where in England people are searching for Black Friday deals the most. We looked for the specific search term “Black Friday [item] deals” to find those specifically looking for deals this time of year.
The results were taken from November 2019 as more recent data relating to 2020’s Black Friday is not available at the time of writing. The ten items were:
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Coffee Machine
- Washing Machine
- Tumble Dryer
We included four of the most common water appliances to find out whether consumers in hard water areas were more likely to shop for these products compared to those in areas where the water is soft.
Consumers in hard water areas are more likely to search for water appliances
Hard water is caused by a variety of external factors related to the makeup of land in different parts of Britain. When it rains, rainfall begins to percolate through the rock, calcium, magnesium and other minerals, and these can be absorbed and can alter the chemical balance within the water.
Due to the chalk and limestone regions surrounding many areas hard water is most synonymous with the southern and eastern regions of the UK. When considering water hardness, anything higher than 180 mg/L is considered to be ‘hard’.
When we look at the areas in England most frequently searching for water appliances in the Black Friday sales, we can see that all of the top ten counties where search volume was highest are in areas predominantly in the south and east of England where mineral concentration is higher. Suffolk and Norfolk, which has the hardest water in the country, are both in the top ten.
|Searches per 100k |
Why do we think this has happened?
Our research and consumer trends data suggests that softer water areas make appliances more efficient and less likely to break down over time. On the other hand, areas with harder water make limescale build-up more likely over time, especially in items like kettles and coffee machines that boil water.
This build-up makes appliances less energy efficient. It makes sense from a consumer’s perspective to replace inexpensive appliances like kettles, but washing machines and tumble dryers are less convenient to replace. However, the search volume data suggests those in hard water areas are still more frequently searching for these appliances.