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2021 will be a year of higher order gratification of consumers: Deba Ghoshal

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of its annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

Deba Ghoshal, Vice President and Head of Marketing, Voltas Ltd, looks to capitalising on the momentum garnered by the festive season of 2020. In 2021, he expects the demand for need-based products to be high. He also anticipates a lot of business coming in from the Tier 2 and 3 markets over the next 2-3 years.

Outlook for 2021

The festive season played a crucial role in making up for most of the lost sales in the early months of the lockdown; but it is the post-festive period that will be critical for making that growth sustainable. Evidently, there is a clear demand for need-based products as consumers seek products to ease their daily lives in the new normal. We expect this demand to be high in the coming few months as well, owing to an increased need for automation of household chores due to the work-from-home culture. With the second wave of pandemic hitting several cities, people are already looking for white goods that help with the burden of household chores.

In 2020, we witnessed a good pickup in demand for newer categories like dishwashers and air purifiers, which we expect will continue to gain popularity in 2021, as the market penetration is currently low and there is a lot of room to grow. In addition to these categories, we also witnessed the microwave category gaining momentum. Over the next 2-3 years, we expect a lot of business coming in from the Tier 2 and 3 markets in particular, where we have the highest distribution reach and market share as well. Going forward, for our Cooling products, we are confident of a robust growth in the upcoming summer season, starting with South India, from February 2021 onwards.

Consumer behaviour trends

While there has been a substantial change in consumer behaviour, the white goods market is witnessing a slow yet steady return towards normalcy. People are buying on a need-of-the-hour basis as they seek products to ease their daily lives in the new normal. Thankfully, almost all the product categories are already gaining momentum as people continue to spend on these functional and necessary products, which are essential in the post-COVID-19 world. We are closely monitoring post-COVID-19 trends related to five key spaces – Consumer Sentiments, Behaviour, Lifestyle, Life-space and Consumption – and are continuously seeking insights to improve upon our offerings.

The pandemic has reiterated on the need for holistic wellness and people are increasingly becoming conscious of the health-centric features of their home appliances. Keeping this in mind, we ensured that our innovations were addressing the need of the hour. This led us to introduce the new Super UVC LED based PureAir inverter AC, that is effective in killing 99.9% germs and pathogens. We have also launched a portable disinfection unit called UV Hand-Held, designed for rapid sanitation of any surface, especially for offices and commercial places. It is safe for use even on food items. Both these launches have been very well-received by the consumers and we are confident that this is a category that will continue to grow in the coming years.

We are also mindful of the market sentiments as the consumers are looking at more value offerings and not necessarily mere discounts. Hence, we will continue with our consumer offers to reduce the barriers for adopting a new category. Consumer finance and Cash back offers will continue to play a vital role, along with Credit Card finance in boosting the growth of the white goods segment.  All in all, the year 2021, will be a year of higher order gratification of consumers. 

Learnings from 2020

As we are all aware, 2020 was a year of transformation, not only disruptions. As an organisation, and as professionals, we all had a huge amount of learning, which will play an equally important role as we steadily get back to normalcy of business operations. Going back to the period between March and May, which usually accounts for over 50% of sales of Cooling products like Air Conditioners, Air Coolers, and Refrigeration products, the year 2020 witnessed a major challenge due to complete lockdown in these peak months. However, the market started picking up with the gradual unlocking of the market in June. Recovery came back on track, which was visible in our growth in the subsequent months, which continued till the festive season. We took advantage of the opportunities that resulted from the pent-up demand in Cooling products and Home Appliances, and continued to consolidate our leadership position in the Air Conditioner business, with the ever highest market share this year.

Along with the pent-up demand that resulted from the lockdown, the festive season also played a major role in maintaining the positive momentum. Our mass media and digital initiatives for promoting our consumer offer, and also promoting individual product propositions; helped in maximising secondary sales. Our consumer offers, which were especially created for easing out the barriers of higher down payments, generated a good response. Besides Voltas’ cooling products, our range of Voltas Beko home appliances witnessed a very high growth during the festival period. We also received traction from Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns, which have performed better due to early lifting of restriction. To address the ongoing demand, we have taken steps like shifting stocking focus to high demand goods, deeper penetration in semi-urban markets, and increasing our manufacturing capacities.

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