What Are The Most Popular Refrigerator Features?

What are the most popular refrigerator features? Ice and water through the door is the most popular refrigerator feature. If we broke up the industry, there are basically 10 million refrigerators sold annually...

If we broke up the industry, there are basically 10 million refrigerators sold annually according to American Association of Home Appliance manufacturers and The Industry Trade Association. Out of ten million refrigerators, four million are side by side product types and five million are top freezers and about another million are bottom freezers. So the most popular is kind of a tie basically between the top freezer and side by side. That's shifted over time to more side by side. The side by side is greater percentages than what it used to be and that's marginally being driven by the fact that they are more affordable today. You can buy a side by side refrigerator today with ice and water through the door, crushed ice, for anywhere between $700 and $800. That used to be the price point where the higher end top freezers used to be and still it is today to some degree. A side by side used to be a $1000 or more.

The features people look for: Probably the number one is ice and water dispensing feature through the door. It's the ice and water dispensing that comes with side by side units that kind of drives the interest of that product. I think 90% of the whole industry in side by side, regardless of brand, includes a water filter with the products, so you get filtered water which, for the most part, is designed to take out all the chlorine, taste and the odor of your water. In 75% or so, (depending on the data point you receive), 70-75% of people receive their water through a municipality that adds chlorine to the water that kills biological matter. That chlorine has a taste and odor and a filter takes it out. There are other features like spill proof shelves, guarded shelves that retain any spills and they clean up easier. Anything we can do to help our consumer clean the product is value added, anything that adds or improves capacity of the product is value added. Compared to someone that had a product built maybe 15 years ago in their home, all the products in the industry today have more space in the refrigerator door and that's very appealing. People can put their cartons of milk in the door and it's convenient for them to access and put away your milk, which is heavy. In whirlpool products, in the freezer we have what we call indoor ice feature where we take the ice buckets out of the freezer interior we put it on the door of the freezer. We provide room for, and not everyone will buy eight pizza boxes, but we have the room individually for eight pizza boxes in the freezer.

From the color and styling standpoint if I look at that as a feature, stainless steel is very popular in the industry as well. Consumers read about it in all the home and kitchen magazines and those homes have kitchen suites and kitchen appliances such as the refrigerators, the whole appliance package in stainless that's perceived to have a higher value than something that is not. And consumers, very affordably, can buy stainless steel or stainless steel looking products starting at $1000 or higher.

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