Boiling water tap brand Quooker has been at the forefront of growing the product category and, according to Walter Peteri — son of the product’s inventor Henri Peteri, and who runs the business with his brother Niels — it’s all down to focusing on some core principles…
Among the biggest obstacles to innovation are traditionalists. As with other product categories in the kitchen sector – and induction cooking springs to mind here — it’s the reluctance of consumers to switch from the habits and methods they are familiar with that has to be overcome if sales success is to be achieved. For Quooker, the road to persuading homeowners to throw out the trusty kettle has been a long one in some ways, but the rising pro le of the hot water tap has been steady, gaining ground particularly over the last couple of years as its various attributes become better known.
“The UK market is more progressive than some other countries,” says Walter Peteri, who co-runs (with his brother Niels, pictured) the company his father established. “In Germany for instance, it can take years and years to introduce something new, whereas in the UK the marketplace can be a little less conservative in this respect. Of course, at the beginning, there was very little market penetration when hot taps were still a ‘new’ idea. It starts with the early adopters and then over a period of time, it becomes a typical product to specify. In the UK, we’re still in this early phase I would say, but this is all normal and it can often take around 5-10 years for a product category to become accepted.”
He adds that it was the same in Quooker’s home country when the business launched its first boiling water taps. “We started in 1993 and sold 500 Quookers in that year. We manufacture that many in a day now – this year we will sell 100,000.”
“It’s all about acceptance. People now know about the product and they don’t have concerns about whether it’s safe, whether it uses too much energy, whether the water quality is good. All of these barriers have to be removed from the minds of consumers before you get to the point that when you are selling someone a new kitchen it becomes not a case of ‘do you want a hot water tap’ but instead ‘which hot water tap do you want’.”
Given the highly competitive nature of the hot tap market — particularly in the UK — the challenge for a brand such as Quooker is to ensure they are first choice in a market loaded with products at lower price points. Quooker’s UK MD Stephen Johnson explains: “We look to communicate this message directly to the consumer so that they go to dealers and specifically ask for a Quooker. Of course, we work with dealers too but to be fair, in selling a kitchen they have a complex product to deal with and realistically their emphasis on a hot tap in inevitably going to be small. We try to encourage them to recommend a Quooker because it’s going to give their customers a hassle-free experience, it’s going to do with what the customers wants of it, and we’re going to look after them. What I’ve found over the last 10 years is that although we have a lot of competitors, the service level is really of paramount importance.”
For Peteri, the design process is ongoing and based on a consultative process of feedback from consumers and dealers. “The new product ideas always come from the market; through talking to dealers in showrooms and at exhibitions,” he explains. “The ideas might initially seem far-fetched or dif cult but we discuss them, our designers here help to come up with ways to make things work and then we put it into practice. Ultimately though, everything we do is derived from the product we created 25 years ago; it’s the same principle which has simply evolved over time.”
Although this family-owned company has expanded massively over the years, adding to its HQ and factory building in Ridderkerk near Rotterdam on multiple occasions, it has steered clear of diversifying from its core business. “A lot of companies try to sell in as many countries as possible, whereas we focus on just a few countries and make sure that we do everything there exceptionally well. It’s the same principle with our product. The emphasis is on making products in just a few functional designs and a limited number of finishes. We keep it simple and completely focused.”Quooker | quooker.co.uk