Bathrooms Become ‘Wellness Spaces’

Bathrooms are increasingly moving beyond utility to becoming an extension of experimental living spaces. In India, it is USD 2 billion industry that is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 17-18 percent per year, and is estimated to grow by 20 percent in the next five years.

By Kumar S.

Home spas and gyms are old school. Today, it’s all about bathroom interiors as a place of repose, and reflection.

The rapid urbanisation and rise of disposable incomes of the middle classes in India, has seen a marked shift in preferences of consumers towards high-end bathroom interiors over the past decade.

The luxury segment spending currently sits at USD 15,653 per bathroom, with high tech fixtures, bespoke cabinetry and luxury fittings driving consumer demand. The premium segment which is between USD 7,827 to 12,523 USD is growing at a rate of 16 and17 percent per annum while the luxury segment is growing by over 20 percent per annum.

Innovation drives spending habits

Luxury bathrooms are combining tech, including IoT and aesthetic to create an ‘experience’ over function. Thermostatic faucets, integrated high-low sprinklers and toilets, along with multi-functional showerheads are the new norm. With a single tap setting the budget back a few thousand dollars, bathroom manufacturers are hustling for a foot-fold in the luxury segment market.

Consumers are installing digital showering systems with whirlpool functionalities that provide ‘natural rapids’ and ‘white-water experiences’, as well as offering a full range of water massage treatments at the touch of a button. The bath tubs now cater for multiple bathers with systems averaging USD 11,000 -12,000.

Bathroom aesthetic has seen a return to the ‘natural’, with one company, Hansgrohe India, manufacturing a free-standing bath tub that resembles a lake when water gushes out in the form of a waterfall. In demand premium French brand Tetard-Haudiquez-Grison Paris is also creating waves offering over 100 different designer taps to suit retro, modern, traditional, baroque and classical tastes.

Designer bathrooms

Works of art including paintings and sculptures are also increasingly popular fixtures in bathrooms to help change perceptions of the bathroom as being a purely functional space.

This has given rise to interior designers specialising in bathroom interiors only, with luxury bathroom designers leading the trend such as Gessi India, Kohler India, Axor, and Perrin & Rowe. Tetard-Haudiquez works with marquee designers such as Pierre-Yves Rochon, Jamie Drake and Alberto Pinto. The Indian counterpart–Hindustan Sanitaryware, is taking its cues from reknowned Indian designer Manish Malhotra.

Branding and Exclusivity

Bathroom manufacturers are quick to secure their intellectual property, patenting every new product that hits the market. Trademark infringement is a common practice in India, and with market share worth hundreds of millions of dollars, firms are diligent in protecting trademark designs.

Given the boom in bathroom renovations, retailers are spending big on brand positioning and reach, roping in celebrities to flog taps to toilets with catchy taglines to increase the recall value of products.

Differentiation has become key in this hotly contested space, with retailers offering follow up services and pre and post installation consultations with customers.

Organized and Unorganized Market

The Indian sanitary ware market is split into an organised and unorganised market. The organised market is dominated by domestic companies like Hindustan Sanitaryware & Industries Ltd, Cera India Ltd. Among the international brands, Kohler India, Roca India and Toto India dominate the Indian Market. The lion share of the market is captured by the organised players with Hindustan Sanitaryware taking the lead according to a recent report.

Over 250 local companies’, the majority of which are located in Gujarat are in the unorganised segment with brands producing sanitary ware using traditional technologies to serve the domestic mass market and export markets.

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