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Water purifier market hots up with Luminous, Panasonic

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The fast-growing is set to see a handful of new entrants, including home-grown and Japanese multinational Panasonic, offering a range of products, especially in the reverse osmosis (RO) category.

While Luminous Water Technologies is betting on its strong distribution, Panasonic, which would officially launch water purifiers tomorrow, is likely to bank on its brand recall. However, both Luminous and will have to fight it out with established players like Eureka Forbes, Kent, (HUL), Whirlpool and LG in the RO water purifier market in India, where companies like Tata Chemicals have a strong presence in the entry level category.

However, companies need to play on pricing as well. Luminous, which launched two touch-based RO water purifiers on Tuesday, has priced its products at Rs 15,999 and Rs 16,999. Panasonic’s water purifier in the RO category would be priced in the range of Rs 16,990 and Rs 25,490. Panasonic would also sell UV (ultraviolet) category, priced much lower at Rs 7,990.

BETTING ON SAFETY
Companies which sell RO water purifiers and their
prices                                                                       (in Rs)
Companies Starting price  in Rs  (Approx)
LG 40,000
Panasonic 16,990
Whirlpool 14,000
HUL’s Pureit 
(Marvella RO)
13,000
Pro RO 12,000
Eureka Forbes 
(Aquasure Nano RO)
9,699
Compiled by Sounak Mitra

The market is not easy to penetrate. Philips, which had launched UV water purifiers in 2006-07, is not selling the product in India anymore. Philips had introduced the product at Rs 8,500 and later reduced it to Rs 6,995, according to an industry source. Lower-priced water purifiers by competitors in the price-sensitive market have made it very difficult for Philips, the source said.

There are many options, but penetration is very low, said the source. “Companies are yet to tap even the urban population fully. The scope is huge. Only entry-level products are likely to make a mark,” added the source.

The water purifier market in India is estimated at Rs 3,800 crore at present. The market is projected to grow to Rs 7,000 crore by 2015, according to a recent study by Assocham.

Tata Chemicals sells Swach at prices between Rs 499 and Rs 999. While HUL’s Pureit is tagged around Rs 1100, purifiers start at Rs 7,999.

“We are betting on our distribution strength, especially in the rural areas, that we have built for the last two decades with power back up business, including inverter,” said founder Rakesh Malhotra. Most of the companies fail to reach the rural mass and after-sales service is a major issue, he said. The company plans to invest Rs 500 crore in water purifying business to cross Rs 2,000 crore sales by 2017, said Malhotra.

Of this, Rs 200 crore would be invested in research and development, and the remaining Rs 300 crore would be spent on marketing and distribution.

Panasonic, on Wednesday would launch three water purifier models customised for Indian consumers, keeping in mind the Indian environment, considering hardness and different level of impurities, according to a company source.

Whirlpool recently told Business Standard that it would focus on water purifiers to maximise growth. “We will continue to sell RO (reverse osmosis) water purifiers with more product variants in the category,” said Shantanu Dasgupta, vice president (corporate affairs and strategy), Whirlpool of India. Whirlpool’s water purifiers are priced at more than Rs 13,000, while Kent RO purifiers start at around Rs 17,000.

Godrej, which entered the market early this year, sells UV water purifier at more than Rs 6,800. products are priced highest at more than Rs 40,000, but the company had said it would introduce products in the affordable segment. Eureka Forbes is the only company to sell RO water purifiers at less than Rs 10,000.

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