Premium AC brands flow into mass market

CHENNAI: Air conditioner (AC) makers are partly shedding their green quotient to become pocket-friendly, as more manufacturers line up lesser energy-efficient 3-star category models from their 5-star (or most energy-efficient) stable. In the process, they have knocked off nearly Rs 9,000 — or 25% — from the AC’s price and entered a fiercely competitive segment, which accounts for nearly 70% of the entire market.
The 3-star AC category is now the target for brands like Samsung and General, whose reach was restricted to 5-star inverter ACs and other super premium models. Samsung is introducing 3-star models priced from Rs 35,990 for 1-tonne. So far, the company was operating in the price range of Rs 45,000 or higher.
“We figured that we had only 40% addressability and, by entering the mass and mass premium segment, we will make it 100%,” said Samsung India deputy general manager (consumer electronics business) Ankur Kapoor. This year, the company is introducing a 3-star on-off AC and increasing its models in the 3-star inverter space.

Japanese brand General is also getting pocket-friendly. The company’s owner, Fujitsu, which recently started direct selling in India, has launched 3-star inverter models in the market with a starting price of Rs 24,000 (for 1-tonne), made especially for the subcontinent. Until last year, the ACs in the brand had been confined to 5-star inverter models and had their products in the Rs 50,000 and above category.
“This is a good opportunity for us to scale up and improve our market share. Currently, our products command a 50% premium. The new models will find takers among the majority of buyers,” said Fujitsu General head (sales & marketing) KC Poovaiah.
Indian brands, too, are targeting the growing room AC market. Godrej, for instance, has re-introduced window ACs and has launched a 3-star inverter version in this segment at Rs 32,000 to increase its share in the mass market. “We have also introduced a 1.25-tonne AC in the 3-star inverter space. With houses becoming smaller, there is a need for this configuration in the country where bulk of the purchases happen in the 1.5-tonne space,” said Godrej Appliances group head (ACs) Santosh Salian.

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