The UK microwave market neared recovery during 2011 and 2012, although it still posted a retail volume growth rate of -1% at the end of 2012. The recovery of combination microwaves in 2012, which holds a high value, was responsible for overall growth.
Due to increased demand for convenience and the continued economic stress, the demand for frozen food and ready meals increased during 2012. Packaged food hit a peak of innovation during 2012 by launching many types of meal solutions and quick cooking packs which feature microwavable food.
Household penetration of microwaves rose from 89% share in 2007 to 91% in 2012. This rise was due to busier consumer lifestyles, with consumers becoming increasingly reliant on ready meals and other meal solutions that can easily and quickly be prepared in the microwave.
The increased presence of combination microwaves accounted for a 21% retail volume share, growing by 4%. The greater cooking functionality offered by this product gives it a premium price tag averaging around £170 which is over £100 more expensive that a standard microwave.
However, consumers managed to upgrade mainly because of the added advantages as some of the microwaves even have functionality of providing a roasted dinner that which typically is cooked in a grilled oven.
Despite the growth of combination microwaves, standard microwaves remained the largest product segment, accounting for a 79% volume share of sales. For the majority of consumers, a microwave is still viewed as a product to defrost and reheat food so persuading consumers to trade up to a combination product is a difficult challenge. Considering these constraints, standard microwaves moved away from entry level price points, with average prices increasing by 8% over 2011-2012.
Sharp Electronics (UK) Ltd was the leading player within the UK microwaves market in 2012, with a 22% volume share due to its longstanding brand presence in the UK. The company was closely followed by Panasonic UK Ltd and Pulse Home Products Ltd holding close to 16% volume shares each in the year.
The industry is highly concentrated, with these leading players accounting for 54% combined volume share. Consumers are attracted to the leading brands by their reliable reputation and wide distribution presence.
For more information on the UK microwave market, see the latest research: UK Microwave Market
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