Firms are not only focusing on meeting the heightened demand as a public health emergency is underway in the region, they are also taking measures to ease the purchasing process. Some of the firms are even concerned about the side effects of complete dependence on artificial measures like air purifying machines and masks as lack of any holistic measures to curb air pollution is haunting citizens.
Panasonic, for example, is offering extended warranty and consumer finance options to make purchases accessible and affordable, said Syed Moonis Ali Alvi, general manager for air purifier business at the Japanese firm. A Xiaomi spokesperson said the company has set up a dedicated page on its shopping portal for air purifiers and pollution masks.
Management of other firms like Blue Star and Nirvana masks are rather concerned about the unavailability of natural solutions to the growing problem. The deteriorating quality of air that began with fire cracker pollutions on Diwali last week, has now got worse.
B Thiagarajan, joint managing director at Blue Star, said that while installing air purifiers at homes, offices and in cars help in reducing pollution levels inside the premises, it is the ultimate step when no other options are available.
Air purifiers only purify the air inside, which over time turns toxic with the rising levels of carbon dioxide.
Given the spike in demand, Blue Star is now launching air conditioners with in-build air purifiers that will suck in fresh air from outside and purify it, at the same time.
Jai Dhar Gupta, proprietor at Nirvana masks, is facing a supply-side constraint given the spike in demand. He is now procuring additional shipment from countries such as China, the US, and Thailand.
“Early trends suggest that this year the growth will be much higher than the past average of 30-40 per cent. With temperature coming down, wind speed is expected to become slower, which will deteriorate the situation,” said Gupta, who was an advisor to the Delhi government in the past.
While the masks market is booming, with thousands of players entering with cheaper products, Gupta said that use of low-quality masks will not help given the severe air quality outside.
Kanwaljeet Jawa, managing director and CEO, Daikin India, said that, in the past few years, it has conducted many sessions on air quality at various social and corporate platforms and collaborated with few health oriented organisations to spread awareness on air pollution and its impacts on human health.
Despite growing awareness about the menace, the size of the air purifier market, however, remains miniscule. According to a Assocham-TechSci study, Indian residential air purifiers market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 29 per cent from the current level of Rs 100 crore ($14.14 million) to Rs 275 crore ($38.99 million) in 2023.
While the study only considers products from major brands, industry estimates suggest size of the portable air purifier products now stands at Rs 180-200 crore, with some 200,000 units sold last year. This, however, industry experts said may grow to Rs 240 crore.
According to Jawa, while last year a shift towards unbranded cheaper products was on the rise, this year consumers are betting on trusted brands.