Thanks to massive levels of air pollution, urban India has unlocked a new market segment – air purifiers. From ultra premium to value-for-money, everyone has come on board
Market dynamics reveal that there are two kinds of brands that are driving the market for air purifiers. One, the super premium segment that goes after high-end apartments dwellers and property builders who often provide these purifiers as a package along with the apartment, and two, the middle class market that has suddenly realized the need for affordable purifiers as a must-have consumer gadget in their homes.
Dyson is single-handedly battling the first segment. The Malmesbury (UK) based company has been at the forefront of disruptive research and development since many years. A brainchild of James Dyson, the company’s motto of making things look simple by miniaturizing the technology bits, has earned global recognition.
The brand launched about a year back in India, and one of their most popular products is the Pure Cool range of purifiers. The latest product – Pure Hot+Cool purifier – has incorporated a heating element within a bladeless fan that allows you to cool or heat the ambient air, while purifying the air in real-time. The device works on a 4-step principle – Sense, Capture, Project and Heat.
While one sensor detects fine particles, the other one detects VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), the devices have a double-layered HEPA filter, a 350 degrees projection radius, and a fan which ensures diffused air flow. Once you set the temperature, the device cools a room evenly, and if required, target cooler air at one person, while keeping the other warm. The product is priced upwards of Rs 50,000, but a huge number of Indian millennials are investing in this product to ensure that their indoor air is safe to breathe. This is primarily because Dyson has been driving home a very key message.
Speaking to EFY-ACE, Dyson Global Category Director of Environmental Control Sam Bernard said, “We’re constantly trying to convince Indians that indoor air pollution is equally, if not more serious than outdoor air pollution. We tend to believe that if we close all doors and windows, we are insulated from air pollution. The fact is there are so many forms of invisible pollutants lurking around; from kitchen fumes to pet fur to gas residues from aerosols. These are ultra small particles that are not visible to the naked eye, but in the long run, they cause critical ailments.”
In order to drive home this message, Dyson tied up with leading cardiologists and experts to convince urban Indians that indoor air pollution is a problem that needs to be fixed right now! Add to it, the fact that Dyson takes its R&D seriously and each product goes through military grade testing, makes it the go-to brand for purifiers.
The company recently announced the expansion of its Malaysia Development Center, its hub of innovation for South Asia (including India). Dyson grew its presence in Malaysia from 350 sqm to 35,000 sqm. Situated in Johor, just across the border from Singapore, the Dyson Malaysia Development Center (MDC) currently houses 22 test and prototyping labs for every one of its product lines. From crash endurance to radiation detection to sound management, the labs at MDC reflect the ideologies that the brand hinges on quality, ruggedness, usability and minimalism.
Bottom of the pyramid
Another brand that has been hugely successful in the air purifier market, has been Xiaomi, the Chinese company that is slowly expanding its home automation ecosystem portfolio in India. After the success of its first generation of air purifiers, Xiaomi launched the Mi Air Purifier2S, late last year, priced at Rs. 8,999. This time around with a mini OLED, which can display PM 2.5 levels. The device also claims to suck air from all directions, and efficiently churn out fresh air.
Unlike Dyson, it is not the R&D muscle or precision to detail that was part of Xiaomi’s marketing strategy. Owing to its affordable price point and a mostly-online thrust, the company leveraged on its trust factor from owners of its smartphone owners and introduced a new product that they ‘needed’. By default, a mid-range Mi phone user may not have imagined picking up an air purifier, but his/her sheer trust in the brand, and introduction of a product just around winter, at a sub Rs 10,000 price point led to explorative purchases across the country.
Raghu Reddy, Head, Category and Online Sales, Xiaomi India, said “Our strategy is simple. A combination of high quality and best specs at honest prices is our motto across our entire ecosystem range of products, which happens to be the same formula we have successfully used for our smart phone business. With our rapid growth of Mi Home stores across the country, we are confident of introducing middle class Indians to a lot of new devices, and enriching their lives.”
With features like the ability to control the air flow from an app, while you are seated many miles away, a minimalistic and lightweight design, ensured that audiences picked it up in large numbers. As a stark contrast to Dyson, here it is a volume game.
Online and offline routes
Between these companies, we can see a diametrically opposite strategy. Interestingly, both are doing well, and contributing to a less polluted household. What is common however, is their sales strategy. Both Dyson and Xiaomi fundamentally leveraged online channels for sales. In India however, they were quick to go offline.
In all metro cities, Dyson has mall experiential stores. Xiaomi too, has Mi Home stores across all major cities, with multiple stores in Delhi and Bangalore. While Dyson features all of its devices for people to try out, Xiaomi also seeds products that haven’t yet made it to India. The idea is to understand the pulse of Indian consumers and their readiness to adopt new products. Whatever the reason may be, both companies are committed to air quality and offer products for diametrically opposite ends of the price spectrum.
This story has been submitted by Vishnu Anand. He is working as a technology and business journalist under the guidance of veteran journalist Anand Parthasarathy (Ex-The Hindu).