Air pollution is the third-largest cause of deaths in India. According to a recent study by Greenpeace India, out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world, 22 cities are in India. Similarly, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that 91 per cent of the world’s population breathes air that is deemed unsafe.
With the rise in health issues owing to increased air pollution, significant attention was brought up on the quality of indoor air, which led to the creation of the air purifier segment in India. This market has seen unprecedented growth in the past five years with more than 30 players currently competing for market share.
Key Factors Pushing the Market
According to Frost & Sullivan analysis, the rising concern over increasing airborne diseases, improving the quality of life, technological advancement with multiple filtration technologies, and smart city projects are some of the key drivers influencing the air purifier market in India.
Air purifiers are effective in reducing or eliminating smoke, contaminants and other harmful particulates from the atmosphere and improving air quality to make it breathable. Depending on the number of filters used in each stage, companies market air purifiers as 3/5/7 stage filtration. In the initial stage, the particulate pre-filter removes dust particles in the range of 75 microns; in the next stage, the carbon filter removes odours and harmful gases. In the final stage, with the help of various filters, particles up to 0.1 microns are removed.
There are five different types of filters currently used in air purifiers. The High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is the most significant type, capable of filtering up to 0.3-0.1 microns at 99.97 per cent efficiency. It helps in filtering harmful particles such as PM 10 (particles less than 10 microns) and PM 2.5 (less than 2.5 microns). Other filters, such as electrostatic-charged plasma, ion ozone, UV, and activated carbon, are less effective and less preferred compared to the HEPA filters.
In India, the use of air purifiers is dominant in the residential segment, predominantly, in metropolitan cities because of the high levels of pollution. Every year, the sale of air purifiers witnesses a spike around Diwali, due to the increased amount of smog created by firecrackers and stubble burning. Air purifier requirements in the commercial space, especially in the closed environment of high-rise office buildings, are on the rise, which is attributed to the rising awareness of employee health and productivity.
Due to variations in lifestyles across regions, there is non-uniform adoption of air purifiers in the country. According to Frost & Sullivan’s study – Indian Air Purifiers Market, Forecast to FY23 – the northern region with 54 per cent market share is leading air purifier sales, followed by the western (25 per cent) and southern regions (17 per cent). The remaining 4 per cent is sales in the eastern region. Currently, the adoption of air purifiers is largely seen in metros such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai, as branded participants initially target these markets and then expand to tier-II/III cities. However, there has been some traction in markets such as Kerala, North East, Lucknow and Kanpur, which are not the main target centers for market players.
Indoor air quality is a key parameter, which is directly linked to the health of the occupants of a building. There are international standards and guidelines prescribed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), but India does not have any set standards for indoor air quality. If India sets standards for air quality maintenance, it could drive the demand for air purifiers.
Market Dynamics – Consumer Electronics Brands Entering the Space
The air purifier market is currently estimated at Rs. 580 crore, which is expected to grow at 27 per cent over the next five years as per Frost & Sullivan’s study Indian Air Purifiers Market, Forecast to FY23. Philips, Sharp, Kent, Xiaomi, and Eureka Forbes are the key participants with a 65 per cent market revenue contribution. These prominent consumer electronics brands are entering the space to capitalise on the opportunity. Each player comes up with at least four different variants, which are modified and improved upon with new technologies year-on-year.
The increased volume may give rise to local manufacturing in the future. The reduction in the price of air purifiers due to the arrival of Chinese brands and multiple consumer-appliance brands is expected to further boost demand. Certain restraints have led to lower penetration in the market. Adoption of air purifiers is limited to urban centers due to lack of consumer awareness and the preconception that it is still a luxury, not a necessity. Similarly, the filter of the air purifier needs to be changed frequently, incurring high maintenance costs. Some air purifiers are noisy, especially when the fan is kept at a high speed, which makes it uncomfortable to use while sleeping. Many sub-standard products are still sold due to the lack of regulations.
According to Frost & Sullivan’s study on Indian Air Purifiers Market, currently, more than 70 per cent of the sales distribution is through retail stores. All of the current key players have a retailer network for a larger reach. Also, distributors have a working relationship with builders, building administrators, and government bodies for project sales. E-commerce, which contributes about 30 per cent, is a fast-growing segment and is expected to boost air purifier sales in the future as consumers shift to online shopping.
Air Purifiers to Gain Prominence
The air purifier market is a largely untapped opportunity, which currently has a low penetration focused on a few cities and high-income households. Air purifier devices in the future are expected to provide multiple smart functions such as operating on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and automatic on/off by sensing the quality of air or the number of people in a room. The players must offer additional innovative features to differentiate their products in the market and to garner a larger market share.
Some leading international players emphasise aesthetics and position air purifiers in the luxury segment while other players are concentrating on targeting the masses with economical pricing. With the growing preference for health and lifestyle products and increasing adoption across households, air purifiers are expected to gradually transition from being a seasonal product to an essential household appliance.
Frost & Sullivan.
Arushi Thakur Upadhyay,
Frost & Sullivan.