Cleaning robots have gained popularity during the pandemic, but will they be able to sustain

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December 14, 2020 4:13 AM

In a market dominated by Chinese brands, there is a lone Indian ranger as well. Milagrow, once a tablet maker, has grown to prominence as a robotic cleaner brand.

Angels window cleaning in high rise buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Raja Segar

When Anker entered the Indian market with its Eufy range of robot vacuum cleaners last year, it was only targeting a niche segment of consumers to adopt the brand. While the company was doing brisk business across the world-revenues in this segment had increased from 5x each year to $200 million, India, it believed would be a difficult market to breach as home cleaning services are already cheap.

A year on, and the dynamics have changed. Lockdown has pushed the demand of home vacuum cleaners and catapulted the brand into a household name.”When we launched in the second quarter of 2019, we were selling 50-100 Robovacs in a quarter. Until Q1 2020, the situation was the same. However, once lockdown was announced, and people realised that normalcy would take time, our demand picked up. We are doing 20-times more orders every quarter”, says Gopal Jeyaraj, Head (India & SAARC), Anker Innovations.

Euphoric about the growth, he says by 2021 Eufy will have more products in its catalogue, and he believes India will constitute 5-6% of the $300 million market.”We expect Eufy to constitute 35-40% of our revenues in India in 2021,” Jeyaraj says. Until last year, it was just 3-4%.

In a market dominated by Chinese brands, there is a lone Indian ranger as well. Milagrow, once a tablet maker, has grown to prominence as a robotic cleaner brand. While the focus of the company till last year was industrial cleaning robots, it pivoted its focus to take advantage of the growing consumer market.

While it has only two categories of products for the robotic surface cleaners for the residential market, one priced at `19,900 and another upwards of Rs 70,000, it now plans to launch more categories to unseat the Chinese and American players. “Residential demand has gone through the roof,” says Milagorw founder Rajeev Karwal.”Before the pandemic, we were focusing on B2B. For us, residential demand more than made up for the loss of sales from the hospitality sector,” he highlights.

The company is expecting a turnover of Rs 15 crore, in this financial year and is targeting Rs 60 crore for FY22. For low-cost products, the cost recovery is 5-6 months, Narwal points, highlighting that the demand for robots may not whittle post-pandemic. But the company is also targeting new categories like toilet cleaning robots and cooking robots.

However, the company is not limiting its options to India. “We will be looking at western markets,” Narwal says.But the companies also need to brace for tougher competition. Smartphone maker Xiaomi is also looking to foray into the market. While the company earlier had plans to launch its product in September, it will now be launching it in December.

The robot cleaning market, as per an industry report, was expected to grow with a CAGR of 18% by 2025. With the lockdown and more people relying on robots, companies are expecting higher growth numbers.

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