Some companies have a summer to cheer. As the temperature rises and the acute heat wave is likely to continue, air cooler-makers, especially in the northern and central markets, are envisaging some green shoots in sales this year after two successive years of weak growth. Companies like Voltas, Bajaj and Symphony expect a double-digit rise in their sales and higher adoption of a superior technology by consumers.
“This year, the market is showing higher traction compared to last year, due to a strong summer. It is expected to grow in double digits,” said Pradeep Bakshi, MD & CEO, Voltas. The market for air coolers in west and south is growing faster, though north and central India are seen as bigger demand drivers, he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Atul Sharma, Bajaj Electricals executive president and country head for consumer products, said, “We expect a very healthy season this year and hope that the industry will grow by 10-15 per cent between April-June 2019. Bajaj Electricals Limited is expected to grow by 3-4 times of the industry growth rate in the current season.” Bajaj also expects 30 per cent of its sales to come from rural areas this season and the remaining 70 per cent from urban markets. “While the unorganised market in air coolers is as big as the organised market, the rural market is slowly graduating towards purchase of plastic branded body air coolers,” said Sharma.
Symphony, the market leader in the segment, is also witnessing higher air cooler sales this season. “Though we cannot get into specifics, April this year was a lot better than April last year, which anyway was a disaster,” said Achal Bakeri, Symphony founder, chairman and managing director.
Air cooler manufacturers also expect a shift in leading markets with a huge replacement demand for branded coolers. Branded air cooler-makers are offering latest technologies, which include IoT (Internet of Things), touch digital control panel, multi-stage air purification, high-efficiency cooling pads, intelligent remote, anti-bacterial tank in several sub-categories such as personal, window, tower and desert air coolers. Besides, they are also spending a good amount to promote their products.
Even as the unorganised segment players continue to dominate the air cooler market, gradually branded coolers are making inroads in the segment, helped by factors such as the introduction of GST, which has helped reduce the price gap. “With the introduction of GST, the price gap between the unorganised market product vs organised have shrunk and consumers are getting more exposed to branded coolers,” Sharma said.