As northern India battles the unexpected cold this winter season (December 2019-January 2020), there has been a huge surge in the demand of room heaters as well as geysers.
With the extreme drop in temperature last year, there has been an extreme shortage of room heaters. Even though consumers are willing to pay a premium, there aren't any stocks available. Be it organised retail or the small mom-and-pop stores, many of these outlets have been selling unbranded, Chinese room heaters, that too at a premium.
For instance, where an Orient Electric fan heater is being sold at a market operating price of Rs 2,400, the unknown Chinese fan heaters are also being offered for anywhere between Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000 (with just 6 months warranty). A sales executive of Vijay Sales, Kohat Enclave in Delhi confirmed that between December 24 and 30, the store managed to sell over 100 units of room heaters.
During the last week of December, there were no stocks available in offline retail. Even the delivery time had increased from one day to anywhere between four to five days for many pin codes on ecommerce platforms.
"We had two categories of heaters - oil filled radiator in the premium category and normal room heaters. We had a very heavy, aggressive plan this year (almost 3x) and have almost exhausted all stocks. Had we got a couple of thousand units more, we could have sold more. Delhi NCR and North India saw immense cold but we saw a lot of demand coming from Ranchi, Jharkhand, north Gujarat and parts of Rajasthan. We saw demand coming from consumers and even from the corporates (small and medium enterprise)," says Rajiv Kenue, Senior Vice President, Havells India Limited.
Havells manufactures room heaters at its factory in Haridwar, northern India. The company offers oil filled radiators in 9 fin, 11 fin and 13 fin options with the range starting at around Rs 12,800 and going up to Rs 17,000. "Last year 11 fin oil filled radiators were in great demand and this year 13 fin has been very popular. We have also seen demand happening for our premium heat convectors - Comfortor and Cista", adds Kenue.
For rod heaters, the average selling price has been around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500. Branded air blowers/fans have been retailing between Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 whereas unbranded, Chinese models are available for anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,800. Oil heaters are slightly expensive propositions priced at Rs 6,000 upwards. UK-based Dyson's ultra-premium proposition, the Hot+Cool Air Purifier, while cleaning the air keeps the room warm. Priced at Rs 55,900, available only on Dyson India, Flipkart, Amazon and Dyson store in New Delhi, the Hot+Cool has been in great demand in Delhi.
Hari G Kumar, Senior Director - Large Appliances, Flipkart says "Business in seasonal categories has witnessed tremendous growth on the platform - with a 2.5x overall growth (room heater: 2.4x, oil heater: 2.35x, rod heaters: 2.4x, air blowers/fans: 2.6x, geyser 2.4x, storage geyser 2.48x). This can be attributed to a continued demographic shift in shoppers especially from Tier 3+ towns and largely in the Northern and Eastern states. We see consumers adopting a more premium portfolio (growth of more than 3x) while we continue to grow in the mid and entry-level products range too."
On Flipkart, the top-selling brands for room heater have been Bajaj, Orpat, Usha, Orient Electric, Havells and for geysers Hindware, Bajaj, Havells, Crompton and Flipkart SmartBuy. "An example of this is the preferred price ranges for our geysers (Rs 3,500-Rs 5,000) and heaters (Rs 1,500 - Rs 3,000) categories, which is much higher than the current industry average" adds Kumar.
For water heaters, popularly known as geysers, the instant water geysers in up to 3-litre capacity, the preferred price range is between Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 and storage water heaters in 15-litre and 25-litre capacity, it is between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.
Amazon India claims to have seen more than 25 per cent year-on-year growth in purchase for geysers on Amazon India with Bajaj, Havells, AO smith, Crompton & Usha being the most popular brands.
Havells experienced growth in the central part of India and the Southern region for the water heater category. "In the areas which witness cold, there is a lot of demand for storage-based water heaters. And this is not just restricted to metros, but the demand is coming from tier 2 and tier 3 towns as well", adds Kenue.
Extreme cold conditions have played an important role in the rise in the demand of room and water heaters. However, another reason could be low inventory as, since past many years, the northern region hasn't experienced severe cold. While last winter season saw some cold, wet days, the previous years have been comparatively very warm.