What is in the air? The timing is perfect while I ask this question as Delhi is choking. Pollution in India is snowballing at a faster pace. Even though, Delhi is worse other cities also show poor air quality. Several agencies like Pollution Control Board are concerned on the poor outdoor air quality over the years. People are happy staying indoors to avoid exposure to pollution. But are indoors safe? Our incense sticks? Do they pollute our home? Our cooking? Is it harmful? Our indoor upholstery? Who knows?
But this has been taken as an opportunity by a lot of companies. Already we have international companies like Dyson, Philips, Honeywell, Xiaomi, HUL’s Pureit along local players like Kent, and Bluestar competing for a space in the market. According to a marketing research firm Euromonitor, the sales of air purifiers are roughly Rs. 116 crores in 2017 and expected to grow 14.5% by 2022. Considering the fact that India is home to half of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, I think the figures shown are abysmal.
In marketing terms, I presume this is a classic case of non-existent demand. People are unaware of the product or uninterested in the product. Lack of awareness of indoor pollution is a huge challenge for companies. On browsing through various commercials, I found that the companies have meticulously tried to make their commercials more informative. But then why the market chokes?
The answer for this I feel is that people still perceive air purifier as an aspirational product. There is a confusion between mass and premium positioning. Since there is a presence of inferior players in the market, marketers are skeptical about where to position air purifiers. Another difficulty is that utility cannot be measured normally and so there is no differentiation as such in the product. The emotional appeal i.e. family based appeal has become pretty common and so people don’t find it appealing also.
Honeywell air purifiers, in my opinion, tried to stay unique from the competition. They were successful in understanding consumer behaviour. For a product like this, an endorsing agency can do wonders. They marketed with certificate of recommendation by the Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health (IMAPH) which adds to the credibility of the product. Talking about segmentation, it serves both the middle class and elite class of the society. The price range as per their website is between INR 12,290 to 30,990. The pricing is at par with the competition. What distinguishes Honeywell from the competition is the product range they have. No other competitor as of now can match with the variety in the product portfolio.
In communicating with the customer, Honeywell is very cautious in its approach. They portrayed Kareena Kapoor as the brand endorser. The initial advertisements were informative in nature. But the latest commercial took a different route i.e. healthy sleep vs sound sleep. To me this is a rational thought as poor air always gives you bad sleep. Honeywell stands out from the competition with this healthy note.
I know that these are early days to talk about an industry. My strong contention is that, like air conditioners, air purifiers will also become a necessity in several parts of the country. This will attract more companies into the fray. Can Honeywell be innovative and stay healthy.