Acknowledging that home appliances have moved from a passive space to an active one, he added, "They are no longer seen as luxuries or discretionary spend but as basic necessities to ensure the safety and comfort of the family."
With the coronavirus pandemic bringing a fundamental shift in the relationship between consumers and appliances as people spend more time at home, the consumer durables industry is expected to witness sustained growth over the next few years, according to Whirlpool of India.
The ‘work from anywhere’ culture is expected to be the ‘new norm’ in the post-pandemic world, the company said there will be a greater emphasis on making the home comfortable and productive, leading to a focus on the role of home appliances to enable the same.
“With people spending more time at home, we have seen a fundamental shift in their relationship with their home and their desire to improve life at home,” Whirlpool of India Managing Director Vishal Bhola wrote in his address to shareholders in the company’s annual report for 2020-21.
Acknowledging that home appliances have moved from a passive space to an active one, he added, “They are no longer seen as luxuries or discretionary spend but as basic necessities to ensure the safety and comfort of the family.” The increased adoption of appliances augurs well for the consumer durables industry in India, Bhola said.
The company’s management in its discussion and analysis in the annual report pointed out that the pandemic has “reset the relationship between the consumers and home appliances”. “With stay at home and work from home becoming the new normal, there is a greater acknowledgment of the role played by home appliances in the life of the consumer. This combined with low penetration levels, improving infrastructure and an upwardly mobile middle class will lead to sustained growth over the next few years,” the report added.
In 2020-21, the pandemic and the consequent stay at home, work from home, and education from home requirements forced the consumers to reassess their home setup and environment. There were a few clear patterns that emerged like a preference for higher capacity refrigerators in line with the need to store more and reduce trips to the supermarkets and an increased need for sanitization of clothes leading to consumers looking for washing machines with in-built heaters which can effectively remove germs, it added.
“As consumers started spending more time at home and experimenting with cooking, there was also an increase in demand for microwaves. Overnight, dishwashers emerged as the most sought-after category as household help was not available and the mound of unwashed dishes kept piling up,” Whirlpool of India said.
It further said, “With the ‘work from anywhere’ culture expected to be the new norm in the post-pandemic world, there will be a greater emphasis on making the home comfortable and productive, leading to a focus on the role of home appliances to enable the same.”
The company said this increased adoption of appliances augurs well for the consumer durables industry in India. “With some of the lowest appliance penetration even amongst emerging markets of the world, the Indian market is expected to grow rapidly,” it added.
However, on the outlook for the immediate future, Bhola said, “2021-22 will continue to be a test for many companies with an uncertain environment posing unforeseen challenges.” Reiterating that the risk and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to grow at an accelerating rate, the company said: “The full economic fallouts are difficult to assess as the country is still dealing with the second wave of COVID-19.”