Ananya Pathak
Marketing

As air quality deteriorates, air purifiers become a necessity over luxury…

Metros have witnessed most demand for air purifiers, ranging between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000. Philips, Mi, O2 Cure, Hindware share shopping trends in 2020.

Come winters and the air quality across India starts to deteriorate. While the national capital Delhi tends to record the highest air quality index, most metros suffer due the rise in air pollution levels post-Diwali. This year the heightened interest around hygiene and immunity, as a result of the COVID pandemic has caused more people to raise eyebrows at the poor air quality.

As the nation works towards reducing pollution, air cleaning appliances have made it easy to control the air quality indoors. Easily available across e-commerce platforms and offline stores, room air purifiers cost upwards of Rs 3,000 per unit.

Highest in demand in northern parts of the country, especially in Delhi, air purifiers have also seen an increase in demand in Bengaluru and Mumbai this year, reveals Raghu Reddy, Mi India’s chief business officer. Mi India is one of the brands, along with Philips, Dyson, Hindware, O2 Cure and others, selling air purifiers in the country.

“Air purifiers have become a necessity today, and are seeing increasing uptake in the market. We have witnessed a strong demand for air purifiers in the market. Mi Air has recorded a 100 per cent growth, vis-à-vis last year. The growing preference for health and wellness products has resulted in 70 per cent of the sales in the northern region, followed by Bengaluru and Mumbai,” says Reddy.

He adds, “We believe that this year, the consumers were more aware and took informed decisions, thereby placing their order a little in advance to fight the worsening air quality. We are confident that today’s consumers will make their health and well-being the top priority and make the right purchase decisions.”

Speaking about the segment, Dipanjan Chakraborty, business lead, domestic appliances, Philips Indian Subcontinent, tells afaqs! that the awareness around the category has increased over the last few years, leading to higher demand, but it has still remained a season phenomenon. With the advent of the pandemic, this conscious feeling to breathe in clean air and keep your family safe from the impact of bacteria and virus has increased.

Dipanjan Chakraborty
Dipanjan Chakraborty

He elaborates that air purifier is not a one-size-fits-all product. “Consumers understand that depending on the room size, the air purifier model needs to be selected. The metric to look out for is CADR (clean air delivery rate). With higher CADR, the rate of cleaning will be faster,” Chakraborty mentions. Philips provides purifiers with CADR ranging from 190-657 m3/hr. The prices range from Rs 8,995 to Rs 74,995.

When we asked him how to select an air purifier, Chakraborty says that particle removal effectiveness is the most important factor while choosing an air purifier and its efficiency to remove bacteria, dust mites, allergens. “Most airborne viruses that transmit through air are smaller than 0.1 microns. The size of H1N1 virus varies from 0.08-0.12 microns. Philips air purifiers are certified to remove 99.9 per cent of H1N1 virus and bacteria, as well as dust mites and pollen allergens.”

In October this year, Philips launched 'New Urban Living Series', air purifiers designed for urban homes, priced upwards of Rs 17,500.

Philips Air Purifier - series 3000i
Philips Air Purifier - series 3000i

Commenting on the demand this year, Rakesh Kaul, CEO and Whole-time director, Somany Home Innovation (SHIL), says that the air purifier market across price ranges, depending on the consumer’s budget, has witnessed a rise. SHIL is a newly created corporate entity of HSIL, vastly recognised by its brand Hindware.

Rakesh Kaul
Rakesh Kaul

As per market estimates, the demand for air purifiers in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 price range has substantially increased, Kaul confirms. He tells us air purifiers that use proprietary technology to remove bacteria and viruses are on the rise.

Speaking about the heightened interest around the product in the wake of COVID, Kaul says, “We should note that no study has found how air purifiers can help prevent COVID, but people are definitely buying it as a precautionary measure against the virus.”

He points out that some of the purchases this year are based on necessity, as more people are now at home. Thus, they are using their appliances a lot more than they used to during pre-COVID times. Also, the consumers are becoming more reliant on technology and looking to buy smart appliances to make their life easier. According to him, “Sales of household appliances, which offer new hygienic features such as air purifiers, will continue to rise.”

Hindware appliances by SHIL recently launched an IOT-enabled smart air purifier called Hindware Agnis iPro under its connected appliances portfolio.

Hindware Agnis iPro
Hindware Agnis iPro

As per O2 Cure, a brand which has a range of customisable air purifiers, Rs 8,500 to Rs 17,500 is the price range of the appliance that the consumers prefer to buy. The brand’s founder Kartik Singhal says, “Five years back, air purifiers were more of a luxury, hence the price range was above Rs 20,000. Now, air purifiers are available in the market, starting at Rs 3,000 and going up to Rs 1 lakh.”

Kartik Singhal
Kartik Singhal

He adds, “The fear of COVID-19 has made the consumers ready to spend additional amount for the products, which have been successfully tested and proven over SARS-CoV-2 and similar other microbials. But the consumer still compares purifiers used for a single pollutant (PM levels) versus purifiers treating all pollutants (PM levels, microbials and toxic gases). The pandemic situation has made consumers read and research about purification technologies at home, before buying.”

Singhal opines that the companies are promoting purifiers as lifestyle products, with smart features like Wi-Fi, Siri, Google Home, mobile applications. This misleads the consumer into buying products based on such features, rather than filtration levels.

He tells us, the air purifier segment, that was earlier limited to select pockets of top metro cities, is cementing its foothold in smaller Tier-II and III cities. The online channels are emerging as a key facilitator for meeting consumer demands in such places.

“Though the air purifier segment is very small, lately, it has increased in size and the vertical is expected to grow further by another 50 per cent in 2021,” Singhal says.

O2 Cure Plug & Play Air Purifier
O2 Cure Plug & Play Air Purifier

Singhal also points out that an air purification product is still treated as a home electrical appliance. The consumer still goes for the aesthetic look and features over technology and filtration levels that an air purifier offers. Many multinational companies, with their big marketing budgets, are utilising the pandemic to promote their purifiers as ‘COVID killers’.

Over the last few months, e-commerce platform Flipkart has witnessed a significant increase in demand for air purifiers, with the segment posting a growth of 3-3.5x over last year. Hari G. Kumar, VP, large appliances, Flipkart, says, “While this demand was witnessed in metros, there was substantial growth from Tier-III and beyond cities, which constituted almost 36 per cent of the total demand, more than double from last year.” Kumar tells us that the purifiers ranging from Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,000 are the preferred choice of customers.

Electronics retail chain Vijay Sales has recorded a similar trend. At the brand’s outlets, purifiers ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 form about 70 per cent of the total purifier sale. Most of this demand comes from Delhi NCR region.

The brand’s director Nilesh Gupta mentions that if an article mentions worsening air quality, their purifier sales go up over the next few days.

Nilesh Gupta
Nilesh Gupta

Gupta mentions that all air purifiers have four common features: pre-filter, carbon filter, heap filter and fan. “This year, the consumers have been focusing on aesthetics of the product,” he shares with us.

He mentions that the air purifier market is 50 per cent online and 50 per cent offline. “For us, it is 6-7 per cent online, which is growing steadily,” Gupta signs off.