It is commonly believed that a trio of kitchen appliances—the refrigerator, the mixer-grinder, and the pressure cooker—have transformed the lives of millions of housewives in India.
Given the unique culinary habits of Indians, who use a lot of lentils and rice in their foods, the pressure cooker is perhaps the most important kitchen appliance in an Indian home.
The mixer-grinder is designed to make the job of wet-grinding spices and other condiments easier. While the Western-style food processor often comes with attachments to chop, slice, and grind, it is not as suited to Indian culinary requirements as the homegrown mixer-grinder. Inevitably, the sturdy mixer-grinder, with a powerful motor to grind even the toughest condiments, is better suited to Indian cooking needs. It is not surprising therefore that a significant share of the cookware market is dominated by small Indian players.
Other small appliances—including toasters, coffee grinders, blenders, and juicers—have managed to make their way into urban homes in India, particularly in the large metropolitan cities where Western culinary habits are being added to traditional Indian ones.
One of the largest players in the Indian cookware market is TTK Prestige, maker of the popular Prestige brand of pressure cookers. The firm dates back to 1928 and has grown into a diversified company with many products. In the pressure cooker market alone, TTK Prestige has 37% of the volume share and close to 40% of the value share. It expanded its presence into nonstick cookware and currently enjoys a leadership position with almost 50% of this market.
Clearly, the changing face of urban India is reflected in the sales of this company. The company claims to have a huge customer base, with nearly 2.5 million consumers being added to this base every year. Its product range has increased significantly to include over 400 products in 16 categories, and TTK Prestige says it is now “a total kitchen solutions brand.”
The company also made a foray into retailing in 2003 when it launched exclusive showrooms called Prestige Smart Kitchens. It now has more than 175 such showrooms across the country, providing every kitchen appliance that the Indian housewife needs to set up her kitchen. To grow its kitchenware product line, Prestige made the decision to sell hobs (cooktops), kitchen ventilation, and Western-style ‘modular kitchen’ accessories.
One of the key international players in India today is Faber Heathkraft, which entered the Indian market in 1994 in a small way but has been steadily raising its stake. Offering ventilation and hobs, it sells through a chain of showrooms called Mini Faber Gallerias. Players like Whirlpool, too, have entered this market with a range of KitchenAid appliances, including coffeemakers. Still, international activity in this market continues to be minimal.
Perhaps one of the major reasons for this is that Indian culinary habits are distinctly different, and to make a dent in this market the appliance OEMs would need to develop products that meet the Indian homemaker’s requirements. Are global players ready to take up that challenge?
According to retailer Yamada Denki, A/C sales are growing in number. Units with high energy efficiency and automatic cleaning functions are selling particularly well.