D.the Sparkasse commercial “My house, my car, my boat” is now considered a classic in the history of German advertising. However, the slogan created by the renowned agency Jung von Matt has long ceased to be used. Especially since today it would hardly fit. Because the priorities of the Germans in terms of status symbols have changed. Cars and boats are now less important to Germans, as polls regularly show. Instead, mobile homes and bicycles, for example, but above all kitchens, have gained importance.
At least the Germans are now spending more money than ever on kitchens. The current balance sheets of industry and commerce demonstrate this. “We are seeing massive growth in premium price ranges in the German market,” reports Frank Jüttner, spokesperson for the board of directors of the Die Moderne Küche (AMK) working group, referring to data from market researcher GfK.
According to this, two thirds of shoppers in specialty stores now spend at least € 10,000 on their new kitchen and one in five even invests more than € 20,000. The bottom line for 2021 is an average price of 10,337 euros, as determined by GfK. That is 659 euros or the equivalent of almost seven percent more than a year earlier.
These figures also include a price effect, given the increase in material and logistics costs. “But most of it is attributable to the continued trend towards higher quality kitchens,” says Jüttner, who works full-time for appliance manufacturer Miele. “Customer demands for their kitchen equipment are steadily increasing.” This is also confirmed by the GfK data. According to this, inexpensive kitchens for less than € 5,000 recorded nearly 6% fewer sales last year, while the luxury variant for € 20,000 and above, on the other hand, recorded a growth of 28%.
“The trend is clearly towards premium,” confirms Markus Wagenhäuser, consumer researcher at GfK. This is also demonstrated by the boom in premium built-in appliances. The industry has therefore recently withdrawn from production the devices in the entry-level price ranges in order to better meet the increase in demand in the premium area, as reported by the representative of the sector Jüttner.
This includes, for example, free-standing fridge-freezers, induction hobs with integrated hood, energy-saving dishwashers or even ovens with self-cleaning pyrolysis function. “There is above-average demand for premium built-in appliances,” says Wagenhäuser, with growth rates of between 16 and 31 percent. The drivers of this development are issues such as convenience and, increasingly, sustainability.
“Energy efficiency is now the most important feature when consumers in Germany make the final decision to buy a new refrigerator or a new dishwasher,” says Wagenhäuser. Paradoxically, modern dishwashers are still mainly used in the fastest automatic program and not in the particularly environmentally friendly Eco mode, as the seller Miele Jüttner reports in reference to customer surveys.
Aside from the appliances, handleless kitchens with clear lines and glossy fronts are on trend, according to AMK. These designer kitchens usually have so-called anti-fingerprint surfaces so you don’t have to see every touch immediately. At the same time, the worktops become more spacious and receive the color of the fronts in order to create a uniform image. And manufacturers are also increasingly cladding predominantly top-mounted devices in the color of the front, where white is still the most popular look, but dark tones also find their buyers.
According to the AMK, the books for 2021 show a turnover of around 5.7 billion euros for the German kitchen furniture industry, which is 8.6% more than the previous year. And that doesn’t even include the revenue from household appliances. In 2022, this positive trend has so far continued unabated. With 2.1 billion euros between January and April, the sales of companies such as Nobilia, Häcker, Schüller, Leicht, Siematic and Co. even increased by almost 13%.
“Home improvement has gained further appreciation, especially during the pandemic,” says Sander, explaining the boom. And the kitchen is by far the most important anchor point. Especially since a new meaning is added to the kitchen, as habitable kitchens now often have to perform a home office function and the kitchen table thus serves as a workplace.
April has already shown clear signs of a slowdown and recorded an increase of only 1.4% compared to the same month last year, while in January, February and March growth rates of 14 to 19% were recorded. “Uncertainty is on the rise in Germany,” says Markus Sander, Sales Director at Häcker Kitchens. Indeed, the GfK consumer climate index for the furniture sector fell to minus 26.
The barometer wasn’t even that low at the height of the Crown crisis. Sander, however, remains optimistic for 2022. “The year will be positive for the sector again,” predicts the manager, who is also a spokesperson for the board of directors of AMK. Sander justifies his trust with existing orders. “The industry is working at full capacity until late autumn”, reports the expert, quantifying the increase in incoming orders at the end of May to almost 16%.
However, one danger remains: the impending gas embargo. According to Sander, gas is needed in the kitchen furniture industry in manufacturing, but particle board manufacturers most of all depend on a number of chemicals, which will no longer exist if chemical companies run out of gas. “So without gas there is no chipboard and without chipboard there is no kitchen furniture.” The situation could change weekly. This is one of the reasons why the AMK does not dare to forecast for 2023.
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