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Chinese Air Purifier Market Growing

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Ms. Shieh, an architect based in Bejing, is considering buying an air purifier for her house. An American-born Chinese, Ms. Shieh came to China a couple of years back to follow her job. Before the move, she was concerned about different food and a language barrier, since her Chinese wasn’t fluent enough. But she didn’t pay much attention to poor air quality.

The first few months seemed alright. The sky of Beijing was always cloudy and a bit gloomy but still tolerable. The real shock came when she was sleeping in the middle of the night during winter time. “I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was choking.” The relatively colder temperature during night time made all the pollutants stay near to the ground. She also could then see how much dust she was being covered with everyday, no matter how often she cleaned her room. She stopped drying her laundry outside because it smelled funny and white clothes always ended up with dirt on them.

She is not the only one in China who considers the purchase of an air purifier. Many foreigners in this nation, especially those with children, are either thinking of buying a purifier or already bought one or two for their home. Air purifiers are not yet very common in Chinese homes, as compared to South Korea or Japan, for example. One of the reasons that Chinese consumers care less for air purifiers is that the price is relatively expensive compare to other household appliances. The average price of air purifiers in China in 2008 was $US285 and it rose to $US315 in 2009. Considering the starting salary of a college graduate in China is only around $490, an air purifier is quite a pricey purchase.

Although air pollution both indoors and outdoors can cause serious health problems, many people consider only outdoor air to be potentially harmful and thus they wear masks when they walk outside. According to much research, however, the levels of indoor air pollution can be high enough to be classified as hazardous to one’s health. Since there is always plenty of construction and renovation going on, there is always the possibility of formaldehyde, benzene and other such pollutants reaching inside households. One research claimed that breathing the air in Beijing has led to a loss of 5 to 6 years in life expectancy there. Due to the increasingly unbearable air quality in China, people are gradually gaining awareness of the importance of air purifiers.

Recently one of the air purifier companies in this nation revealed on their webpage that many government officials use their brand of purifier to get fresh air. The Chinese air purifier company proudly announced that there were more than 200 purifiers installed in government buildings, including the Great Hall of the People, and the office of President Hu Jintao. Also the company mentioned that the residences for senior leaders and their families were equipped with air purifiers of the company brand.

The result of this attempted promotion brought about huge criticism towards government officials. While the United States Embassy regularly monitored the air quality level in Beijing at a ‘hazardous’ level, the Chinese government kept to their stance that ‘the air is a little polluted but not so bad’. And yet the government officials’ contradictory attitudes to filthy air provided a good platform for air purifiers companies to promote their products. Before the government officials’ affection for air purifier was revealed not many people were considering having one at home.

Around this time, the sale of air cleaning items skyrocketed at retail stores. Some stores even saw a 50 percent month-onmonth leap in air cleaning equipment sales. One of China’s big home appliance suppliers, Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd., has seen air purifier and humidifier sales grow by a leap of 30 percent since last November.

According to air purifier manufacturing companies, only less than 1 percent of Chinese households has an air purifier. Many people wear a mask in the streets in order not to inhale foul air, but not many of them are now concerned with the quality of the indoor air of their home. The TechSci Research report ‘China Air Purifier Market Forecast & Opportunities 2016’ estimates a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 36 percent for the next 5 years because of increased awareness regarding the importance of purified air. Compared to the global air purifier market, which expects a growth rate of about CAGR 8 percent, China’s market definitely looks much brighter.

The Director at TechSci Research was quoted as saying, “The current penetration level of air purifiers in China is extremely low when compared with countries like the US, Japan and Korea where penetration level is above 20 percent. We forecast that the Chinese air purifier market will surpass $US14.6 billion by 2016.” The penetration rate of United States is near to 30 percent while South Korea and Japan are at around 20 percent.

Currently many global players are present in the Chinese air purifier market. Global brands target high-end customer groups by pricing units at more than $UD475. The Chinese air purifier manufacturers generally focus on the low-end market at prices around $US160-$320. There are global players from Europe, the United States, Japan and others. Korean air purifier brands Woongjin Coway, Samna Nano Bio, and Chungpung are trying to get more Chinese market share. Japan’s Hitachi, Panasonic, Daikin and Sharp are also significant participants in this market.

Yadu is believed the strongest local player, having acquired more than 50 percent of the air purifier market share in China at one time, but which it then gradually lost share to competitors such as Midea. Currently the biggest market player is Philips, which has about 45 percent of the total market; the second is Panasonic with about 24 percent, followed by Yadu at about 16 percent market share. The remainder is divided by numerous smaller players.

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