In India today, refrigerator is a necessity and this category accounts as one of the most important divisions in the industry with its extensive penetration in the market. According to a National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, the penetration of refrigerators in India has roughly doubled over the past decade to reach 30 percent. With the evolving lifestyle of consumers, the need for better living has risen immensely, with the demand for refrigerators increasing extensively. Considering the category is cluttered with options, we were early to observe the scope of growth and started manufacturing refrigerators in India with our first industrial park in Pune in the year 2007.
At Haier, we remain constantly committed toward meeting the needs and requirements of our consumers by offering a seamless experience from category to category. Haier had a spectacular 2018, and launched a variety of best-in-class products. Last year, we launched refrigerators in the high- to low-end categories. We successfully grew 71 percent in our overall refrigerator business, and have doubled our sales in the mid and high segment. In 2018-19, we had sales of 1.6 million units of refrigerators.
Given the influx of choices, our aim is to be a trendsetter and offer choices, which are made understanding the needs and lifestyle of the buyer. We have invested the last few years in understanding those real-life issues and have significantly mapped the needs of our current and potential community. For instance, we analyzed how the traditional refrigerators are designed in a way where the less-used freezer section is at the top and the most-used refrigerator section is at the bottom, for which every time the user needs to use the refrigerator section, they have to bend down to access it. We understood this customer need and pioneered the bottom-mounted refrigerators segment in which the freezer section is mounted at the bottom and the more-used refrigerator section is at the top, allowing proper visibility of the food items stored inside and reducing bending by 90 percent for a user.
Another trend we noticed in the refrigerator industry is the convertible option, to ease user’s different requirements that change from time to time. Understanding this need, Haier introduced the 8-in-1 convertible feature, which is available in most of their refrigerators from the small- to high-end models, designed for every household today that has different needs, requirements, and usage patterns. With this feature, users can easily convert the freezer into a fridge and back to freezer with eight convertible options within a time span of just 50 minutes. Not only this, at Haier, we manufacture refrigerators in a wide variety of patterns, such as glass door, steel finish, mirror finish, and a plethora of floral patterns. The refrigerators are aesthetically designed with superior functionality and features that complement the efficiency and style quotient of consumers across all forms of kitchens, i.e., modern, traditional, and contemporary.
Over the years in the refrigerator industry, we have witnessed growth in this industry including rural electrification, increasing disposable incomes, customer exposure and awareness to new technologies, and evolving lifestyle aspirations. Understanding consumer’s behavior, we at Haier have been manufacturing products that not only cater to Tier-I markets but also to Tier-III and Tier-IV markets. We are constantly manufacturing refrigerators in the mid-range category to provide our potential customers with a variety of options to select from. As a brand, we remain aggressive with our product portfolio and continue to expand our distribution reach, launching new SKUs and focus on customer-inspired innovation. Haier’s success is already reflecting in market share gains in the refrigerators category, distribution expansion, and price aggression.
This year, we kickstarted the year by launching our slimmest side-by-side refrigerator range in the premium category, followed by direct-cool refrigerators in the affordable category that were unveiled in all new floral patterns, especially designed to complement the interiors of homes. This year, we will continue to deliver best-in-class technologies that will meet the needs of our existing and potential consumers. Seeing the growing demands of storage and space availability in refrigerators amongst consumers, Haier will soon come up with newer innovative range of refrigerators.