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Make it large

business Updated: May 30, 2010 23:22 IST
Rachit Vats

Whirlpool recently launched a three-door range of refrigerators called Protton. Its capacity starts from 300 litres. Protton also has two-door options in 400-litre-plus capacities. Prices range between Rs 23,400 and Rs 46,500. The company is advertising Protton across media, including a 3D campaign in 3D-enabled movie theatres. Big, for Whirlpool, is beautiful.

An ongoing refrigerator advertising campaign by LG on TV also features large capacity refrigerators. The company has also put a 30-litre microwave on retail shelves.

Big has gone beautiful for almost all consumer durables and electronics brands, with LCD, plasma and LED television screens getting bigger; refrigerators getting larger; and washing machine capacities increasing. Growing the durables promise

“With frost-free refrigerators, three-doors are hot nowadays. Also, while two years back, 32-inch LCD TVs were more in demand, now consumers prefer 40-inch and 46-inch sets,” said Ruchika Batra, spokesperson for Samsung India.

“Though earlier there was apprehension about selling larger products, now consumers are tending to view bigger as better. We are party to this demand creation as most of the communication is for bigger products,” said Amitabh Tiwari, head — sales, LG India.

He added: “In 2006, for LCDs, 32-inch and 36-inch screens were more popular but our strategy has helped us make 42-inch and even bigger screens more popular now. From two per cent, the contribution of this higher size has gone to 22 per cent for the overall segment. This also holds true for refrigerators and washing machines.” Performance of key categories

LG has set a sales target of Rs 15,000 crore across all its products by the end of calendar 2010; it had a Rs 13,000 crore turnover in 2009. LG sold 23.8 lakh refrigerators in 2009 and expects to touch 30 lakh units in 2010. Refrigerator sales in India are expected to touch 80 lakh units by the end of this year.

As market leader, LG enjoys 26 per cent market share in the direct cool and 32 per cent in the frost-free refrigerator segments; a 42 per cent share in microwave ovens; and a 32 per cent share in colour televisions, the largest contributors to its India revenues.

LG will push its LED TV (which it had launched in September 2009) sales this year, launching more advanced models, hoping to sell three lakh units by the year’s end. Samsung was the first to launch LED TVs in India.

Said Sriram K, vice-president, sales, service & marketing, Onida: “Consumers are shifting to bigger appliances because of the added functional value they get out of it.”

Advertising of consumer durables products has built up exposure to and aspirations for bigger products with higher technologies. Indian urban consumers, with growing disposable incomes, are willing to pay for them.

As brands pay special attention to designs (check out LG’s floral designs on its refrigerators and microwaves), consumer durables and electronics that were disappearing into kitchens and bedrooms earlier are making a comeback into living rooms. The designed units come at a premium over their regular counterparts.

According to Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA), the total size of the consumer durables and electronics industry is around Rs 30,000 crore. The last quarter registered phenomenal sales, particularly in flat panel TVs that grew by 70 per cent. Air-conditioner sales increased by 50 per cent and home appliances by 40 per cent.

It is not that bigger products are replacing the smaller options. But big, high technology products are certainly being used by brand marketers to drive brand perceptions.

“Our marketing strategy is to have a full spectrum of products in each category covering all formats, capacities and price points, with products that provide good value for money for innovation, features, aesthetics, quality and service,” said Whirlpool India spokesperson Shantanu Dasgupta. Whirlpool India enjoys a 22 per cent market share in refrigerators, 16 per cent in washing machines and seven and four per cent in microwaves and air-conditioners respectively, in volume terms.

Samsung has invested heavily on technology and is luring consumers looking for style and functional value. “We offer a range of products in different sizes. There is an evident trend of consumers moving towards larger-sized, technologically advanced products. We have our 3D TVs in the market, at Rs 4.3 lakh-plus. We also offer attractive bundling schemes,” said Batra.

Haier Electronics too rolled out a new range of bottom-mounted refrigerators called the BMR Plus, new models in its Empress Series refrigerators, deep freezers, 5-star split air-conditioners, and a range of front and top load washing machines.

Panasonic has opened an experience centre in Gurgaon, in Delhi’s national capital region and plans on opening more across the country this year. It plans to up its turnover to Rs 3,000 crore this year, up from Rs 2,000 crore last year.

With premium products expected to be future growth drivers in consumer durables and electronics, while multinational brands will increasingly launch their global innovations simultaneously in India (it’s already happening), Indian brands will scale up sharply in technology and innovation.