Dyson’s $500 hair dryer has reset price expectations for the whole sector

Hair dryers had been a low-priced commodity item for years. Dyson’s premium-priced offering appears to be changing that for other manufacturers, too

Dyson hair dryer


A funny thing is happening with hair dryers – prices are going up.

The average hair dryer in the United Kingdom cost £53 last year ($92), compared to £31 the year before, representing a whopping 70%, according to German analysis firm GfK.

The culprit for such a large increase is unmistakably Dyson.

Known mainly for its vacuum cleaners, the privately held British firm last year released the Supersonic, a $549 hair dryer that uses the same motors found in many of its other products.

The Supersonic has met with glowing reviews from hair stylists and is considered the veritable Ferrari of the category. It’ll undoubtedly be a big seller this Mother’s Day.

It’s unknown how many units have been sold, but it’s evidently enough to be moving the average price upward, a curiosity that highlights two points.

First, this isn’t Dyson’s first or even second barbecue in this respect. The company, led by inventor/entrepreneur Sir James Dyson, did the same with vacuum cleaners starting in the mid-1990s.

At the time, vacuums had reached a dead end and were typically selling for less than a hundred dollars. Dyson applied his cyclone system to the device and dramatically improved its suction power. He boldly decided to charge several times the going rate and consumers bought into it.

The company is now third overall in global vacuum market share, behind Bissell and Dirt Devil, according to Euromonitor, and has certainly been the main factor in prices – and quality – creeping upward.

Dyson did the same with fans and space heaters, improving the experience by removing the devices’ blades and boosting the price to go with it. Launched in 2009, the “Air Multipliers” sell for between $300 and $600 and have similarly turned consumers onto the novel concept of paying extra for better fans.

It’s looking like the same is happening with the Supersonic. “This is what happens when an innovation comes along,” says Udo Jansen, global director of small domestic appliances for GfK.

It makes you wonder what commodified product Dyson is going to un-commodify next.