Whether it’s full of rustic charm or oozing sleek, contemporary style, a range cooker will steal the limelight and take centre stage in any style of kitchen. And now these aspirational appliances are boasting both beauty and brains as the latest models have embraced the technology and functionality offered by their built-in counterparts.
“Buyers now expect the technology available on built-in ovens to be available on range cookers as well,” says Laura Gardiner, marketing manager at KitchenEX, UK supplier of Italian brand Ilve. She cites precision digital temperature controls, rotisserie spit and pizza functions as just some of the features that Ilve has applied to its range cookers in its quest to “bring the two classes of cooker together.”
“Gone are the days when kitchen designers would have to configure layouts to include a separate bank of built-in ovens to complement an eye-catching range cooker,” says Iskender Diker, director of sales and marketing at Rangemaster.
“Instead, consumers are looking for all-in-one, technology-rich appliances with features to make cooking easier – a steam cavity, multifunction oven, or telescopic shelves to name a few.” The company says its new Nexus Steam is the only range cooker in the UK market with a dedicated steam oven cavity. It is also equipped with an 11-function multifunction oven plus precise electronic temperature controls.
As well as features that make cooking easier, consumers are also being seduced by programmes that help them create mouth-watering, restaurant-quality dishes in the comfort of their own home. Take Miele’s Moisture Plus technology, designed to increase humidity in the oven for better results or Stoves’ Steam & Infuse, which adds moisture and flavour to food.
Driving Sales: Manufacturers Top Tips
“Colour has always been more readily embraced on a range cooker and this continues to be the case. Don’t underestimate the power of that Hot Pink or Jalapeño Red display model in starting the conversation and drawing the eye” – Sarah Whitfield, product manager for range cooking, Stoves
“A strong display is vital. With a focus on functionality and innovation, consumers looking for a new range cooker will also have questions around special features, so having good product knowledge is essential. And, of course, good service always plays an important role” – Valentina Bertazzoni, director of style and communication, Bertazzoni
“It’s never been easier to reach out to customers and our retailers are harnessing social media channels. It’s never been more important to create a positive buying experience and the use of demonstrations and events have been key to our success” – Guy Goring, owner and director, Everhot
“Live demonstrations and in-store events are a sure-fire way to entice consumers into the showroom and educate them on the latest features and technology. We would always recommend showing a variety of models. Utilise your website to feature the latest products and sell the lifestyle of a range cooker, making use of the manufacturer’s photography” – Iskender Diker, director of sales and marketing, Rangemaster
In addition, today’s time-starved consumers also want their range cookers to be easy to maintain.“Self-cleaning functions are key,” says Neil Pooley, category manager for kitchens at Miele GB. “Thanks to pyrolytic self-cleaning programmes there is no need for scrubbing or having to use aggressive agents.”
According to recent research conducted by Stoves, connectivity is now hugely important. “When we asked consumers what they would like to see in their next range cooker, 74% of respondents want artificial intelligence or connectivity capability,” says Sarah Whitfield, Stoves’ product manager for range cooking.
The company’s Zeus Bluetooth technology, which is available on a growing number of its range cookers and built-in ovens, allows consumers to adjust cooking times using a smart device.
While range cookers that incorporate an induction hob aren’t new, they are becoming more sought after. “We’ve seen a huge shift towards induction hobs over the last five years. The greater flexibility and efficiency they provide mean that 80% of our customers opt for a cooker with an induction hob,” says Guy Goring, owner and director at Everhot.
Leisure also notes that induction cooktops are growing in popularity. “For those that understand the technology, it’s most likely a first choice,” says Gino Grossi, Leisure brand manager at Beko plc.
For Italian brands Bertazzoni and Ilve, range cookers with gas hobs are still the biggest sellers – for now anyway. “While gas takes the lead for range cooker sales, induction is growing in popularity as more consumers take an interest in energy efficiency,” notes Valentina Bertazzoni, director of style and communications at Bertazzoni.
KitchenEx’s Laura Gardiner points out that extra features such as griddles are in demand, as are hobs that offer the best of both worlds. “We have had a significant increase in interest for the combination of induction and gas hob,” she confirms.
So is there anything consumers would like their range cookers to do better? Stoves’ research found 52% of respondents would like speedier cooking, while 26% wanted bigger models with larger cooking cavities. In terms of the range cooker of the future, customisable designs and technology from other appliance categories could be on the way.
“The joint top result (26%) was the desire for range cookers to be fully customisable with removable door covers and graphics allowing consumers to change the look of their appliance at will. Equally popular was the addition of ‘weight recognition’ –borrowing technology from the laundry sector – to allow the oven cavity to weigh items such as joints of meat and automatically adjust cooking times and temperatures,” says Stoves’ Whitfield. “The future could be very exciting if consumers get their wish.”
All the range: top range cooker trends
“Functionality, ease of use, speed of cooking and the latest technological innovations are all key factors for consumers when choosing a new range cooker” – Valentina Bertazzoni, director of style and communication, Bertazzoni
“Style, performance and functionality are the three key considerations” – Lucy Dunstan, product manager, Smeg UK
“We see more and more customers choosing bold colours and luxury finishes, such as rose copper and bright brass, to ensure that the range cooker is at the centre of their new kitchen design” – Laura Gardiner, marketing manager, KitchenEX
“Our classic Cookmaster dual fuel cookers are still our most popular, showing that people still desire the traditional range cooker look. However, the gap is rapidly closing as our more modern Cuisinemaster Pro has seen significant growth in the past two years” – Gino Grossi, Leisure brand manager, Beko plc
“The most highly rated current features are a multifunction oven, the flexibility of having two or more cavities and separate grill, plus easy clean functionality” – Sarah Whitfield, product manager for range cooking, Stoves