Consumers said that jetted tubs could be difficult to get in and out of or were not comfortable once in the bath. They said jetted tubs were hard to clean, especially the jets. Regarding the jets, consumers said they were in the wrong places, there were not enough of them or they were not adjustable. Consumers also complained that the water gets cold during the bath.
Whirlpool Corp. hired Smith-Dahmer Associates for its first phase of research, which included 11 focus groups in four cities. The research team, led by Anne Dahmer, was charged with proving or disproving the theory that there were several unmet consumer needs within the jetted bath category.
Beyond identifying deficiencies, focus group participants offered unsolicited suggestions on where to put jets, where to add grab bars and other ways to fix what they saw as problems with the products.
The company also gathered detailed information from more than 500 jetted bath owners via consumer mail panel, using an eight-page written survey. In addition, Whirlpool Corp. teams interviewed channel partners, plumbing contractors and builders and utilized several secondary research sources to better understand the state of the industry.
Whirlpool Corp. also observed and videotaped about 20 individual tub owners during the bathing process; conducted additional consumer focus group research; and performed several one-on-one interviews to identify responses to certain visual cues of tub designs.
The survey data helped Whirlpool Corp. differentiate purchase drivers in first-time jetted tub buyers from those of second-time buyers. For example, first-time buyers evaluate primarily on appearance, size and price. Second-time buyers also notice things like grab bars and slip-resistant surfaces. A first-time buyer may be attracted to intricately carved decorative trim, but a second-time buyer is more likely to see that as something that is hard to clean.
The research revealed that consumers view jetted baths as a bathroom appliance. However, they link it with relaxation, while they link other appliances with work.
Whirlpool Corp. used its research findings to assist in the development of its collection of jetted baths, soaking baths and shower pans that make up CieloT Bath Furnishings by Whirlpool Corp.
The Cielo jetted baths address the four most common objections from jetted bath owners learned from the research:
- Approachability and bathing comfort: The tubs have a slip-resistant, textured bottom, grab bars and are designed to comfortably support a range of body sizes.
- Cleanability: The jets can be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher and the tubs are made of Lucite cast acrylic, which is easy to clean.
- Jets: Every Cielo jetted bath comes with a minimum of six jets. All are multi-directional and have an independent air volume control to adjust the flow.
- Temperature: All Cielo baths are available with an optional factory-installed maintenance heater.
More information on Cielo baths by Whirlpool Corp. can be found at the Web site: www.takeabath.com.
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