While Australians are only just starting to put away the Eskys and backyard cricket sets, suppliers and retailers are already thinking about the heating appliances that will fill retail shelves in a few months time. So when summer is a long-distant memory and customers start hitting the stores to look for winter warmers, will your store be ready?
The important thing to remember is that consumers need guidance — it’s the retailer’s job to guide them in the right direction for a product that suits their needs. And with the ever-present threat of climbing power bills and increasing environmental concerns, there’s no room to get it wrong when it comes to finding the right product.
While portable heaters have always a good option for heating spaces around the home as required, Kambrook is bringing greater efficiency to the space with its range of ceramic and micathermic heaters. But although the efficiencies are there, retailers need to be prepared to explain the benefits of these technologies, as Kambrook business manager Adam Tacey explained.
“While people are often drawn to whatever style of heater they have previously had in their home, newer types, such as ceramic element and micathermic, offer significant energy efficiencies,” said Tacey. “These are segments that can continue to grow as energy bills become an increasing concern.
“Education is the only barrier to this sales opportunity and retailers can play a key role in helping consumers to understand the technologies and select the best type of heater for their space and budget.”
The brand’s ceramic heaters are a strong seller according to Tacey, and the two latest products in the range — the KCE240 and KCE340 2,000-watt Ceramic Tower fan heaters (RRP $109 and $119 respectively) — are tipped to perform well this coming winter. Both feature two heat settings and a fan-only setting, digital display panels, a remote control and an 8-hour timer.
“Our ceramic heaters have proven to be one of the strongest performers in the past year,” said Tacey. “Their popularity can be attributed to improved technology, safety and energy efficiency coupled with a very contemporary design. The ceramic element operates at a low surface temperature and is self-regulating, creating a safe and energy efficient source of warmth.
“Of course, safety continues to be an important consideration when purchasing portable heating appliances. All Kambrook heaters carry our ThermoGuard overheat protection and/or safety tip-over switches for maximum safety protection.
“Following on from a strong 2013 season and a growing interest in our cooling range, we anticipate consumers will be eager to seek out Kambrook when it comes to reliable home heating solutions.”
While the Chinese New Year has just brought us into the Year of the Horse, De’Longhi is adamant that 2014 will be “the year of the Dragon 4”. The brand is hoping its Dragon 4 oil column heater range will help solidify its position as “market leaders in the heating category” according to category manager for major appliances and comfort, Helen Finlayson.
“Delonghi oil column heaters have provided a stable, reliable product choice over many years,” she said. “Whilst the category has lost some ground over the last few years, oil columns have managed to maintain their traditional place on retail floors.
“The Dragon 4 range introduces a level of innovation not seen in this category for decades. We started by improving the design and increasing the surface area by 25 per cent over our previous models, allowing for greater radiant heat transfer into the room. The larger surface area also encourages greater air flow emission, through our exclusive chimney design, so the room heats up faster than ever before.”
The line-up includes the existing DL range, a number of new manual models and the flagship TRD42400ET (RRP $379) with a digital control panel and Eco Plus technology that automatically adjusts power levels to maintain temperature.
Eco Plus technology will also feature on the brand’s new ceramic heaters — the 2,400-watt tower heater (TCH8903ER, RRP $189) and the 2,200-watt (DCH7092ER, RRP $129) — and the 2,400-watt slim line panel heater (HCX9124E, RRP $449).
After arriving in the heating category last year, Dyson has made an impact on the heating space with the uniquely-designed AM05 Hot + Cool (RRP $599, available in White/Silver, Black/Nickel, Nickel/Nickel and Iron/Blue). According to Dyson Australia managing director Glenn Andrew, there is a considerable amount of technology under the hood of this appliance.
“The design of conventional gas and electric heaters has changed little in over 100 years. Slow to heat, wasteful and with hot elements making them unsafe around children. People expect more from the technology in their homes.
“Dyson Hot + Cool uses our patented Air Multiplier technology, which has no blades or visible heating elements. Dyson engineers have designed it to cut out automatically if tipped over and the machine is cool on the outside to touch.”
The Hot + Cool draws air, passing it over ceramic stones to heat it before it is accelerated through a thin aperture to create a smooth and even flow of warm air. The appliance can also be used as a cooling fan in summer, offering retailers “all-year-round sales in a market usually restricted to one season” according to Andrew.
Karina Zuiderwijk, brand marketer for Vornado (distributed in Australia by Milners), told Appliance Retailer that the heating category has becoming more competitive in recent years.
“Consumers are becoming more educated and selective as to which heaters they are choosing. Not only do they have to choose between different brands but they are also faced with making a decision as to which type of heater will best suit their needs. Hence, the heating market is becoming increasingly competitive and confusing.”
Zuiderwijk said the key influences in the decision making process were safety, low running costs and a focus on design. Furthermore, consumers are conducting more of their research into heating online and on mobile devices.
With these factors in mind, Vornado has developed its flagship TVH 500 heater (RRP $329; RRP $349 with remote control). Available in black, white and a new matte charcoal colour, the heater uses Vornado’s “vortex energy efficient circulation” method to heat rooms quickly and evenly, without cold spots.
“There is an opportunity to educate and sell Vornado heaters which will not just help to cut electricity bills but safely and effectively heat a room,” said Zuiderwijk.
Seeley International, distributor of the Convair heating brand, is billings its 2014 range as “the largest and most exciting ever”, with a line-up including ceramic heaters, panel heaters and outdoor heaters.
“This year’s winter product range offers retailers high quality products that are highly functional, with a reasonable margin, to be sold at an RRP that the customer will consider to be great value for money,” said Seeley International national retail manager, Tony Pack.
The hero of the range, the Convair Ceramic Tower Fan Heater (CTH05, RRP $149) features a slim design along with two 1,100-watt and 2,000-watt heat settings, an LED digital display and a 1-to-12 hour timer.
According to Pack, Seeley is well placed to support retailers when it comes to stocking seasonal appliances.
“Our quality control and product performance processes are industry leading, we have a dedicated national sales team, national service team and back-up team at head office in South Australia, and we have excellent distribution systems in place with warehouses and stock all over Australia,” he said.
Although panel heaters are not new to retailers, Atlantic Australasia director Stephen Shanahan said the segment has undergone a real “evolution” in recent years as suppliers develop new technology.
“The electric panel heater is constantly undergoing development, primarily driven by a demand for greater efficiencies and environmental concerns,” said Shanahan. “The most recent advancements include intelligent controls, as recently introduced in the new Atlantic Tatou radiant range. These advanced controls incorporate light, motion and draft sensors and improve efficiencies by 35 per cent.
The Atlantic Tatou 2,000-watt radiant heater (RRP $654, 567200) has a safe-to-touch surface but still provides “unbeatable comfort and remarkable energy efficiency” according to Shanahan. It features a draft, light and motion sensor to optimise energy use, a digital temperature display to check the temperature at a glance, preset programs and an eco mode.