Air cooler makers eye jackpot sales as mercury soars
Companies like Bajaj Electricals, USHA International, Maharaja Whiteline and Voltas have already come up with innovative products and are spending on branding and promotion to make the most of the season.
"Given the timely onset and severity of the summer season, we expect an above average sales for the coolers industry," Bajaj Electrical Vice President and Country Head - Marketing (Consumer Products) Amit Sethi said.
Expressing similar sentiments, USHA International President - Appliances and Sewing Machines Harvinder Singh said, "We have registered robust growth for our air coolers range this year, driven by Eastern and Southern markets. Despite a forecast of above normal rains, the season in North India is expected to be good. We are expecting a growth of 25 per cent this season."
Maharaja Whiteline CEO Sunil Wadhwa said the company witnessed good sales in 2015 and is optimistic about this year as well. "We are extremely optimistic about 2016 sales...across the country, we are going to sell over 1.5 lakh coolers this year," he said.
Even new entrant Voltas, which sold around one lakh units last fiscal, has set a target of selling around 2.5 lakh units in 2016-17. "This time due to the severe heat, sales are good. We would sell around 2.5 lakh units this fiscal," Voltas President and Chief Operating Officer Pradeep Bakshi said.
The Indian air cooler market is estimated to be around Rs 3,000 crore in size and around 30 per cent of this is in the organised sector, while the rest is served by unorganised players.
Wadhwa said the challenge for the industry is that air coolers are an extremely seasonal product category with a short window of peak secondary sales. In order to cash in on the limited window of opportunity, companies have already rolled out new products with advanced technologies.
"Given the IMD forecast beginning of the year and consumer shift for products that support healthy living, USHA strengthened the range of air coolers with five new evaporative air coolers launched across categories, including personal coolers, tower coolers and window coolers and further strengthened the distribution network," Singh said.
Likewise, Maharaja Whiteline is also focussing on promoting its products as energy efficient. "The running cost of a good branded cooler like Maharaja is less than Rs 2 per hour versus Rs 10 rupees an hour for an AC," Wadhwa claimed. Similarly, Sethi said Bajaj Electricals has centered its marketing strategy around its 'Surround Cool' technology which "ensures that cool air from our flagship air cooler model circulates all around the room and not just in a narrow area". "We are confident that most of the consumers will prefer our innovative air cooler offerings this summer," he added.
Most companies feel that the non-metro markets will play a big role in driving sales. "Two successive droughts have been cause of worry, especially for rural markets where the main earnings are out of agricultural output. With prediction of more than average monsoon this year, we are positive about growth in durable business," Singh said. Sethi also said although urban markets would account for majority of the sales, the non-metro markets will see rise in demand for air coolers. Companies are also looking at growth in online sales this season.
"E-commerce contributes 10 per cent to our sales," Wadhwa said. Online sales are mainly driven by convenience and choice, he said, adding that logistics is an issue for transporting products like air coolers.
Singh said USHA has recently forayed into e-tailing with select products on the shelf for now. "However, this year, we are strengthening our presence aggressively in this space with innovative products," he added.
Likewise, Sethi said "online is a steadily growing sales medium across the consumer appliances space which we believe will evolve as per its own set of consumer benefits and not only price."
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