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issue: November 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

New Delhi Report
India's Most-Wanted Appliances

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by Adite Chatterjee, New Delhi correspondent, APPLIANCE Magazine

India’s Most-Wanted Appliances

What is the most-desired consumer appliance in the Indian market?

This question was posed to 1,000 male consumers in the four major metropolitan cities in India—Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai—in a survey conducted by A.C. Nielsen in collaboration with the Economic Times. The answer, surprisingly, was the ubiquitous television set. It seems that Indians cannot do without their TV, and this applies to consumers across all socio-economic households. The appeal for televisions is, in fact, higher among lower income households. The other two most-popular consumer products are cameras and watches. Younger consumers, however, prefer laptop computers to watches.

The TV set emerged as the most popular durable product in Calcutta (73 percent), Chennai (52 percent) and Delhi (43 percent). The only exception was Mumbai, whose citizens would much rather buy a laptop (44 percent) or a camera (36 percent) than a TV (35 percent). Calcutta’s citizens (69 percent) voted overwhelmingly in favor of the watch over the camera (51 percent). In contrast, only 16 percent in Mumbai, 6 percent in Chennai and 21 percent in Delhi would prefer to own a watch.

One wonders where that leaves other appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators.

Siemens Home Appliances has decided to test the market by being one of the first to launch dishwashers in the Indian market. Currently, the dishwasher market is small at just 8,000 units. With more urban women balancing careers and homes, and domestic help becoming a rare commodity, marketers feel that demand for dishwashers is bound to grow.

One factor that might inhibit that growth is the price. Dishwashers are currently Rs 22,000 to Rs 60,000 (approx. U.S. $500 to $1,365), which is too steep for most middle-income households.

There also seems to be some inconsistencies between what people say they will buy and what they actually do buy. TV sales are actually down, while microwave ovens sales are on the rise.

Sales of consumer durables grew by 48 percent in the April-June 2005 period. Despite this increase in sales volume, the growth in sales by value dipped 6.4 percent from Rs 31,500 million to Rs 29,480 million (from approx. $715.8 million to $669.9 million) during the same period over the previous year.

This drop, according to a study by retail market research organization ORG, is due to a slowdown in refrigerator and color TV sales. The strongest demand growth has been for microwave ovens, which registered a growth of 91 percent and washing machines, at 8.9 percent growth.
Consumer durables companies sold 74,713 microwave ovens, 16,595 color TVs, 11,849 refrigerators, and 3,453 washing machines during the quarter ended June 2005. During the same period last year, companies sold 39,130 microwave ovens, 17,521 color TV sets, 12,101 refrigerators, and 3,171 washing machines.

The growth in microwave oven sales can be attributed to lower prices on almost all brands. Similarly, increasing competition forced players to cut prices of washing machines and refrigerators, leading to an overall lower realization in terms of sales value. In addition, in the refrigerator category, sales of direct-cool refrigerators have declined while the growth in frost-free refrigerators has been slower, leading to an overall decline in sales growth.

So can marketers buck the trend and register double-digit sales growth in the coming months? Many of them hope so, and have launched multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns in anticipation of the festival season.


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