Lockdown impact: Appliance makers expect consumers to invest

in automation, comfort products Kolkata, Apr 29 (PTI) Hit by the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, white goods makers are expecting that people, in future, will prefer investing in automated products that give them comfort as the burden of managing the household chores has now come on their shoulders in the absence of domestic helps.

Amid coronavirus fear, many have asked their maid and other domestic help to avoid coming to work and are trying to become more self-reliant and well-prepared to tackle such adversities in future, officials of cooling appliance companies said.

'The COVID-19 outbreak has caused an unprecedented disruption in our day-to-day lives and the demand for products that make life at home more comfortable and convenient will pick up in absence of domestic workers,' Voltas Ltd managing director and chief executive officer Pradeep Bakshi said.

Air-conditioners and coolers, chest freezers, dishwashers among others will witness pent-up consumer demand, when the lockdown is lifted, he said.

The coronavirus pandemic is leading the world towards a new era of automation, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India Ltd chairman and managing director Gurmeet Singh said.

'Amid the lockdown, people are managing to work without domestic help. Customers are more concerned about maintaining social distance than anything else.

'In the near future, automated products and smart homes are going to be the talk of the town as consumers are willing to minimise human interaction and pay more for comfort. Automation is going to play the greatest role in our daily tasks at homes and workplaces,' Singh told PTI.

The company, in its new line-up, focuses on comfort and automation along with improving the indoor air experience for its consumers.

Sales of consumer durable products like any other items have been hit during these summer months, not because of lack of consumer demand, but due to absence of last mile connectivity and the market lockdown, Bakshi said.

He, however, said a few weeks of lockdown will not change the consumer behaviour permanently.

'A consumer might spend more time on digital platforms like social media, and e-commerce touch points to make purchase decisions, the physical retail experience for final purchases will remain,' he said.

Voltas has a significant presence online, even when e-commerce was at its nascent stage in India, he said.

'About 40 per cent of e-commerce AC sales in India are today attributed to Voltas,' Bakshi claimed. PTI BSM NN NN