A chat with Ravindra Singh Negi of Havells on the fan market and Indians' openness to using IOT in their homes.
A ceiling fan that knows when you are sweating. That’s one of the propositions highlighted in the latest commercial for Havells’ ceiling fans. The ad flaunts Havells’ ‘Smart Sense’ IOT technology that allows its fans to adjust speed according to the conditions of the room – like humidity, temperature, etc. It can also be controlled via voice and a mobile app.
But that’s only about the fan. In terms of consumption of fans in India, it is a well penetrated category with a penetration of 75-80 per cent. Further penetration is mainly driven by replacements. The market is valued at around Rs 8,000 crore and has been significantly affected by the COVID pandemic. Havells is the market leader in the premium segment and holds the second spot in the overall organised market, after Orient.
Apart from the circumstantial impact, the category faces a challenge of replacement cycles. Ravindra Singh Negi, president (electrical consumer durables), Havells India, says that the replacement cycle of ceiling fans range between 8-15 years. Fans have traditionally been replaced once they went bad. Replacements also happen in case of renovations when consumers want to change it for the aesthetic appeal.
Havells has in the past attempted to push the ‘aesthetics’ and ‘beauty’ factor of fans with its ‘Fifth Wall’ campaign, positioning the ceiling as an important fifth wall of a room which needs equal attention like the wall hangings, paintings, decoratives, etc. The IOT proposition is a new added layer to the appeal of fans.
Negi says that consumers associate IOT with technology and that, despite of the penetration of smartphones, people are still a little wary of using IOT. There is some friction in usage. “Even if someone is aware of IOT, the existing use cases aren’t really consumer friendly. The regular features like switching on/off or scheduling, can be used once in a while but with the Smart Sense technology, it can be used everyday.”
Conceptualized by Mullen Lintas Delhi, the campaign has been launched in multiple regional languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. It will also be propagated on Havells’ social media channels alongside out-of-home ads.
“It’s not about technology but about the technology feeling what you need."
The usage of kids in the ad film is aimed at allaying the worry around using new technology. “It’s not about technology but about the technology feeling what you need. A fan is all about comfort. If it can feel the discomfort around us and adjust accordingly, that’s what we all want,” Negi says.
It is aimed at consumers who are looking for convenience, control and are open to experimenting. Negi also mentions that consumers today are also shifting from price perception to value perception. “They want to know if the product is helping them control their lives better or offering better experiences.”
The premium ‘smart’ fans are priced upwards of Rs 7,000, significantly higher than regular fans. The economy range of ceiling fans starts at around Rs 1,300. Despite the high price, Negi says that the product is seeing healthy response beyond the metros from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
However, fans obviously have a strong seasonality aspect but seasons vary across geographies of the country. Almost 45-50 per cent of fan sales happen between March to June. Sales are also affected by state of the real estate market.
The sales off-take starts in the southern states and the coastal regions first due high level of humidity. States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc., pickup first. This is followed by the western region part and then the north. Even as summer recedes and makes way for winter, the consumption of fans tends to be more in the west and south.
“But in the peak season in the North compensates for the late pick up,” Negi signs off.