Washing Machines-stagnating market

The washing machines segment has been somewhat derailed. Poised at an annual increase of 10–11 percent since the last few years, at best FY21 will see the market at 7 million machines, very similar to FY20 and FY19.

COVID-19 brought the relevance of large appliances to the forefront for most households. Dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, food processors, coffee machines, and personal hygiene products suddenly became high on the shopping list. The under-penetrated washing machines segment was no different. With social distancing becoming the norm, and the part-time maid a forbidden entity, washing machine was the savior.

Hygiene is a huge area of concern for consumers and washing clothes at a high temperature is a proven way of killing germs. Fully automatic washing machines gained share. Makers responded by extending high-temperature wash options, earlier only possible in high-end fully automatic washing machines, also in semi-automatic models.

Indian market

The Indian washing machines market in 2019-20 is estimated at 7 million units, valued at Rs. 10,400 crore. With the COVID-19 pandemic refusing to relent, although the 10 percent anticipated growth is not expected to materialize, this utility product is expected not to show degrowth in 2020-21. The release of pent-up demand in June, continuing through July is somewhat getting it back on track.

The semi-automatic segment continues to hold sway with a 57-percent market share, by volume. In the fully automatic category, it is the top-loading models that have a 66-percent share by volume and a 56-percent share by value, largely because of the price differential with their front-loading counterpart. It is difficult to forecast if these trends will continue this year, as the coronavirus pandemic is completely changing patterns of consumer behavior across the country.

While LG continues to dominate the segment, it slipped in 2019, as against 2018, and lost market share to Haier, Whirlpool, and Bosch. Godrej and Samsung gained share very slightly. IFB continues to have a 6 percent share with presence in the fully automatic machines only. Videocon has disappeared from the market altogether. Other brands as Vestar, Wybor, Truvison, Daenyx, Panasonic, Lloyd, Onida, Midea, T-Series, Toshiba, TCL, Voltas Beko, Siemens, and Gaggenau have their niche clientele. With the Tier-II and Tier-III cities emerging as major buyers, the semi-automatic washing machines have attracted the attention of brands as Xiaomi, Thomson, and Sansui (in partnership with Jaina Group) that have forayed in this segment. 247around continues to find success with its servicing model, and has been in an expansion mode for the last couple of years. The company’s emphasis on quality repair, assisted with analytics, combined with AI and IoT and 24×7 availability, be it through an app or call center, has earned it a reputation of being an appliance buddy.

On the e-commerce front, which was largely restricted to the front loaders, as a result of the lockdown is also finding other categories being sold. Modern retail and large retail chains have received a setback, as most of the showrooms and malls have been shut or the customer has stayed away, window shopping and loitering around in the stores, no longer a luxury the consumer can afford.

While the GST is at an 18-percent slab, the less-than-10-kg category continues to attract a 20 percent customs duty. The last couple of years have seen a shift toward 8-kg capacity machines, away from 6–7-kg machines that were more popular earlier.

The increased number of dual-income households, coupled with insufficient time for laundry has led to the growing desire for this under-penetrated product. Moreover, energy labels and energy-efficiency policies have enabled manufacturers to focus on the development of energy-efficient products. Manufacturers are focusing on new product development, advancement in technologies, and increasing their manufacturing capacity. For instance, Haier’s second manufacturing facility being set up in Greater Noida, while enhancing its capacity by one million washing machines, shall serve as an opportunity for vendors and OEMs to scale up and bring about an expanded business with increased local production and lesser dependence on imports. Currently, the OEM market is largely catered by Dixon, Noble Group, PG Electroplast, and Empire Home Appliances.

Smart washing machines with their ability to operate remotely by smartphones, that can also receive notifications are yet to catch the eye of the Indian consumer. The Indian housewife is opting to spend her money on either transitioning from semi-automatic to fully automatic machines or buying a larger-capacity model, with the latest upgrades. Numerous advancements as auto-optimal wash, eco-check, automatic detergent dispensing, power-wash system, steam-care function, self-cleaning elements, spin-shower program, tri-roto scrub pulsator, in-built cartridge lint filter, and so many others are keeping her enamored.

Global market scenario

The global washing machine market is valued at USD 6.15 billion in 2019 and is expected to decline to USD 5.87 billion in 2020, a major factor of this de-growth being the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the market is expected to pick up to USD 6.16 billion and then continue to grow for the next 5 years. The market is expected to show a revenue growth of 4.9 percent, and a volume growth of 5.6 percent in 2021 as per Statista. On the other hand, Grandview Research pegs the smart washing machines market at at USD 4.9 billion in 2019, expecting to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 percent from 2020 to 2027.

The growing pace of globalization will play a crucial role in driving this market in the foreseeable future. The increasing number of working households is one of the key factors, which is triggering the growth. The female labor force participation has increased, resulting in lesser time being allocated for household chores. This has led to an equivalent rise in the demand for automatic washing machines. Moreover, change in lifestyle, rising middle-class population, an increase in the number of nuclear families, growing awareness about technology, and steadily increasing media penetration are the factors that have elevated the demand for residential washing machines.

The global washing machines market could invite an optimistic impact as newer technologies take precedence to address the demand for water and power-efficient, next-generation products. In order to control the consumption of energy, governments are urging consumers to prefer energy-efficient appliances with smart grids. This is foreseen to aggravate the manufacturing efforts to develop technologically sophisticated products.

The global washing machines market is prognosticated to rake in ample amount of demand from the residential sector as consumers find a heated inclination toward smart and connected products. Commercial dryers are expected to gain traction as manufacturers introduce heat-pump technology in the wake of energy consumption rising to an alarming level. Moreover, government initiatives to support controlled energy consumption, digitization, and a large demand in developing economies are expected to add to the growth of the market.

Commercial laundry equipment is envisaged to appeal to the government, hospital, and hospitality sectors with outsourcing deemed as a powerful trend of growth. As a result of the advent of innovative solutions in the laundry sector, the commercial washing machines market is expected to accept a transition. This could push the need for increased automation in laundry services, which is foreseen to prepare a fine ground for the global washing machines market to build on a robust growth. One of the notable revolutions in the laundry sector is the shift from coin laundries to card-based or digital laundry payment services.

Based on product, the market is segmented into fully automatic, semi-automatic, and dryer. The fully automatic segment is estimated to be the largest shareholder. Front-loader is anticipated to hold the larger market share as compared to top-loader on account of better performance, occupying lesser space, water- and energy-efficiency, and gentle treatment of clothes. The semi-automatic machines segment is also projected to exhibit a significant share owing to its affordable price, simpler to use for people who find difficulty in interacting with digital devices, and also its ability to handle laundry in two drums for washing and drying. However, the dyer segment is also showing positive growth in the coming years owing to its energy efficiency, easy to use, and its wide range of options.

Based on capacity, 6.1–8 kg is projected to be the dominating segment as majority of the consumers around the world are part of families having 4–6 members, which means that 6.1–8 kg capacity will be the perfect choice for most households. Above 8 kg machines are commonly used in hotels, hospitals, laundry services, and others. Therefore, below 6 kg and above 8 kg segments are considered to have lesser demand as compared to 6.1–8 kg capacity washing machines.

Leading companies in this market are developing machines that are powered by smart technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). Key market players are offering voice control integration with Alexa and Google Assistant, to help control a combination of washer and dryer. The players are increasingly focusing on making and delivering products that are smarter, efficient, and sustainable. One of the trends seen in the market in recent times is the use of technology that reduces the use of water for washing. The growing scarcity of water worldwide and the realization that water is a limited natural resource have compelled manufacturers to devise a technology that minimizes the use of water. Most manufacturers are counting on the formulation of holistic distribution mediums with a view to widen their clientele base. Some of the interesting strategies adopted are substantial focus on supply chain management through vital investments and improvement of product assortments.

A few issues for the market though persist, such as availability of online laundry services as well as laundry shops, both of which can dissuade people from buying washing machines, thus affecting the market. Proper utilization of water in the machine is also a challenge for manufacturers, seeing that the world is reeling from a water crisis for the past few years. The fluctuating prices of raw materials also pose a challenge for manufacturers to produce efficient and innovative household appliances at affordable prices. Such concerns are expected to affect the growth of the global residential washing machines adversely.

The market growth may get impeded because of the risks posed to the environment by washing machines, hence slowing down the purchase. Research conducted by a team from Plymouth University in the UK found that one cycle of a washing machine can release over 700,000 microscopic plastic fibers in the environment. The biggest contributor, the researchers observed, was acrylic, which churned out nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic fibers per wash. Pollution caused by micro-plastic materials is a growing ecological concern across the globe as these substances are known to contaminate food chains, trigger behavioral changes in animals, and disrupt the energy flow between organisms. The findings of this study were substantiated through a study performed by the University of California Santa Barbara, which also concluded that washing of clothes is a massive contributor to microplastic pollution in water bodies.

Asia-Pacific is poised to dictate the washing machines market share in the forthcoming years. The regional demand in the international washing machines market is predicted to augment with the rising preference for smart connected and fully automatic products in the developing countries of Vietnam, India, and Indonesia. The demand is anticipated to swell further as the populations in these countries falling under the middle-income bracket see a rise. The washing machines market in China could experience a high level of penetration of different types of products, thus allowing the market to increase its growth.

North America is forecasted to not fall behind by much distance from Asia-Pacific on the back of rising demand for smart washing machines to replace their traditional counterparts. In the region, steady income will ensure stable demand for electronic products. In the US, the demand has grown dramatically with the elevating awareness of products bearing the Energy Star certification. In Europe, high per capita income will propel the market.

Vendor update

At CES 2020, LG Electronics unveiled its advanced innovation in laundry, deploying artificial intelligence to deliver precision washing for optimal results without the guesswork. Winner of a coveted 2020 CES Innovation Award, the new LG ThinQ front-load washing machine features an artificial intelligent direct drive (AI DD) motor, along with the company’s AI-powered proactive customer care service.

At KBIS 2020 held in January 2020, Samsung set the standard with connected products. The company highlighted connected products and an ecosystem of intelligent products. All of the Samsung home appliances on display, including washing machines, offer customers control over their connected devices, including the one at the center of the smart home: the Family Hub.

Panasonic strengthened its washing machines portfolio, with the launch of models featuring Flexible 2 Way Washing technology. The company introduced 38 new models in the segment–23 in fully automatic and 15 in semi-automatic washing machines. The range comes with a built-in water heater. The models also feature water re-use technology and White course.

Godrej Appliances plans to introduce a new product line for fully automatic front-load washing machines with 400,000 annual capacity. The company will double the current capacity for both fully automatic top-load washing machines and semi-automatic washing machines at its Shirwal and Mohali plants, respectively. The brand is planning to invest another Rs. 700 crore by 2022. With this investment, the brand aims to increase the annual appliance production capacity to 6.5 million units. The focus is to also introduce newer technologies and carry out backward integration.

Haier India expanded its product portfolio with the launch of 83 new-age products, betting big on smart home solutions and propelling the 2020 vision to strengthen its commitment to the Indian market. The company announced eight new SKUs in the washing machines category, including front-load Wi-Fi-enabled smart washing machine with the super drum. It is knitted with Haier’s direct motion motor technology. The brand also launched its another Wi-fi-enabled front-load dual-drum washing machine, which can be operated through Haier Smart Home App and allows the user to wash independently in two different drums at the same time.

IFB’s range of front-loaders was introduced during 2018-19 and well received in the market. The range of models offers features like deep clean technology, wash program for delicate clothes, intuitive user interface, and smart mobile-based technologies, among others. Ongoing product development continues to focus on IoT capabilities, and water and energy efficiency. The company expects the category to continue to be a revenue growth and margin driver along with the front-loaders category. The capacity was expanded when during 2018-19 the installed top-load capacity was stretched and IFB was unable to supply to the market in full. IFB clocked revenue of Rs. 1684.63 crore in FY19. The company has also localized key material compositions in the area of composite plastic polymers for the plastic tub in washing machine.

Bosch markets a wide range of both top- and front-loaders in India. The product range features AllergyPlus program, which washes laundry at 60°C, giving germ free and hygienically clean laundry; the German engineered AntiTangle technology; and WashForward program in SpeedProfessional and Speed Plus range, which offers cleaning results in 60 minutes.

Advent of smart washing machines

The global smart washing machines market size was valued at USD 4.9 billion in 2019, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 percent from 2020 to 2027. Technological advancement in the smart homes category is resulting in higher demand for connected washing machines. Growing scarcity of water across the globe is compelling manufactures to devise products with technology that minimizes the use of water. Thus, these smart washing machines with Energy Star ratings save a lot of water as compared to conventional washing machines.

The residential application segment accounted for the largest share of 61.9 percent in 2019, thanks to rising disposable income across developing economies like China, India, and Brazil. Installation of these products in the residential areas helps in tracking and controlling the wash to avoid unnecessary wash cycles and water usage, thereby incurring higher demand among residential consumers.

The commercial application segment is projected to expand at a CAGR of 23.2 percent. Higher indulgence of commercial laundry services in smart washers as an aid to provide convenience and efficiency is gaining traction in the market. Rapid shift toward coin laundry as well as online laundry services in the emerging economies of Asia-Pacific is likely to draw greater attention of consumers toward the sector. Moreover, rising developments in the hospitality sector and hospitals are resulting in continuous demand for convenient and faster laundry washing, thereby increasing demand for smart washing machines in the commercial application segment.

Front-load washing machines segment held a leading share of 54.6 percent in 2019 and is anticipated to register the fastest CAGR. Rising inclination of consumers toward conventional front-loading washing machines despite higher prices has resulted in increased traction of the product. Consumers are increasingly shifting toward the adoption of front-load washing machines on account of their large loading capacity as well as water- and energy-efficiency features. Thus, manufacturers are entering this segment with new product launches in order to attain greater share in the smart washing machines market.

Top-load washing machines are expected to expand at a CAGR of 23.5 percent from 2020 to 2027. Convenience, coupled with lower price, is a key factor driving the demand for top-load washing machines, particularly in developing economies owing to a large middle-class customer base. Rising infusion of smart inverter technology in the products is also helping boost the application of these machines in the residential as well as commercial sectors.

Smart washing machines with a capacity of 6–10 kg held the largest share of 65.6 percent in 2019, and is anticipated to register the fastest CAGR. Rapid shift toward nuclear family households owing to rising urbanization has increased the need for washing machines with 7.5 kg capacity on an average. Moreover, increased focus on water saving has resulted in higher adoption of smart washing machines with a load capacity of 6–10 kg. A wash cycle of 7.5 kg laundry uses less water, electricity, and detergent as compared to two cycles of 3.5 kg. Thus, inclination toward smart washers with 6–10 kg of load capacity is higher.

Smart models with more than 10 kg capacity are expected to expand at a CAGR of 23.7 percent. These products are primarily used for commercial purposes owing to their capacity of washing a large number of clothes at one time, resulting in energy and water efficiency. Increasing presence of commercial laundry services across the globe is boosting the demand for large-capacity washing machines.

Asia-Pacific is expected to expand at the fastest CAGR of 20.8 percent. Increasing internet penetration and technological advancements in developing economies, such as China and India, are anticipated to fuel the product demand in this region. Increased adoption of automatic washing process as an essential part of everyday housekeeping activity among Europeans has created lucrative growth prospects in the region. North America held a share of 26 percent in 2019. Higher indulgence of Americans in smart devices and smart homes is ramping up the sales of smart washing machines. According to the Digitized House Media, three out of five people in America buy smart home products in order to monitor their house through their smart phones.

The game-changing innovations

A new spin. A growing global trend these days is the use of permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSMs) in appliance applications. This is driven by a number of factors, ranging from raw material costs that shifted cost advantages away from induction motors, to the design and reliability benefits of a simplified mechanical structure. Using variable-speed direct motor drives based on PMSM technology also offers advantages in terms of more efficient operation, smooth torque control, reduction in acoustic and electrical noise, and lower levels of vibration.

Displays and controls. Most washing machines have a control panel with all the buttons, switches, or dials for setting the machine. High-end models now feature touch control displays, making it easier to control and set up a cycle. Indicator lights tell a user what settings have been chosen and how far through the cycle the machine is. Some machines also have a memory or favorite button, which saves a favorite wash setting to use again. Pause buttons are another useful feature. Some machines feature LCD or LED display instead of, or as well as, indicator lights.

Efficient use of resources. With environmental impact a big concern, washing machine manufacturers are adding features that make their models more efficient–in terms of electricity, water, and even detergent usage. Many machines offer a range of different temperatures, as low as 20°C, for lowering the energy used by the appliance. Some machines use sensors to calculate the exact amount of energy and water required for a wash cycle. Automatic dosing features ensure only the correct amount of detergent is used in each wash. The machine determines how much detergent a particular wash program needs, based on the type of material and weight. Some high-end brands now also feature a consumption forecast, so one can know how much energy and water each cycle will use before it starts.

Safety features. Many washing machines feature various safety features to protect users against floods or accidents. Child locks stop children from altering program settings once a wash has started. Overflow and leak prevention systems have sensors to detect any potential problems. This cuts off the water supply if something happens. Many machines also have overheating protection for the water heater or motor, which helps to extend their life span. Anti-foam technology prevents overflow of foam as it automatically adjusts the length of the cycle to compensate.

Design features. Washing machines are now quieter than ever before. Modern brushless inverter motors reduce high-frequency noise for quieter, shorter, and more efficient wash programs. And, the machine walls can be designed to absorb more of the sound and reduce vibrations. Self-cleaning detergent drawers and drums are handy additions to some higher-end machines. They use powerful water jets to flush out any residue after a wash, to keep the machine clean for the next use. Recently, brands have included port holes with mini doors which allows one to add items to the wash once it has started. Variable spin options enable users to alter the spin speed of wash programs. Some machines have specially designed drums, created to move laundry items around evenly during a wash.

Wash cycle extras. An anti-stain feature is also a great addition. By using carefully controlled temperatures, the cycle can remove everything from red wine to grass. Some machines offer a wash tailored for organic washing detergents, like laundry balls or soap nuts. These cycles use more water and hotter temperatures to provide optimal results. Some washing machines have a steam-refresh option.

Way forward

It is no surprise that washing machines have captured the market globally in a big way. The increase in the demand for energy-efficient and fully automatic appliances is expected to boost the industry over the coming years.

Now the smart, connected machines are attracting more consumers and have managed to influence a section of the customer-base to replace their old machines with their smart connected counterparts. There has been a global awareness, preferring the use of smart and energy-conserving washing machines.

Wi-Fi-enabled washing machines are the latest trend. Although this technology is relatively new, models with this feature are starting to become much more common.

According to the World Bank, globalization has accelerated the pace of technological diffusion. Furthermore, cross-border exchange of technology has made life simpler and more comfortable and many beneficiary countries are emerging as promising markets for modern technologies. Thus, the rising tide of globalization is likely to lead to the washing machine market trends in the upcoming decade. 

Industry Speak

Connected washing machines–One-solution

Ravinder Pal Rohewal
Product Group Head – Washing Machines,
Haier Appliances India

The growing demand for the products, which bring ease and convenience to the consumers, has encouraged the home appliances industry to bring in new innovations. With constant change in our lifestyles, increasing disposable income, and the availability of advanced technologies, consumers are always on a look out for products that are packed with newest innovations, smart design, and are connected to other devices while being energy efficient.

Home appliances market today is flooded with products that boast of unique features. Manufactures are rethinking every aspect of their operations to further upscale to the level where innovation meets technology. Washing machine, for instance, is a must-have home appliance in a household and we cannot just do without it. It plays a vital role in effectively managing home in the absence of the support staff and makes you self-reliant.

The relevance and need of a smart washing machine that manages those big piles of dirty laundry on its own has been felt lately much more than ever before. With consumers spending a majority of their time in their homes amid lockdown, there is a growing need for smart appliances that can make their lives efficient and better.

COVID-19 has also made us think and work toward building a greener and a sustainable future. Technology in this aspect has a potent role to play. For instance, the growing scarcity of water all across the world, and the realization that it is a limited resource, has compelled manufacturers to devise a technology that minimizes the use of water in washing clothes.

Haier has been at the forefront of embracing innovation and has made it a part of delivering the most advanced products to its customers. The brand has always focused on innovations that are inspired by real-life challenges. For instance, near-zero-pressure (NZP) technology, which Haier offers in its washing machine range specifically, caters to the local needs in scenarios where there is low water pressure.

The self-cleaning technology (SCT) has been designed to offer intelligent wash for a better cleaning experience to the customer. With direct-drive technology, Haier is amongst the few brands in India that have introduced super silent washing machines with very less energy consumption. It is also the only brand to create the industry’s first IoT-enabled public laundry service in India, controlled completely through the Haier Wash App.

The growing impact of new technologies has influenced our lives in creating a better, connected world. With this positive development, smart home appliances are also transcending toward becoming a necessity, and not just a luxury for the consumers.

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