The much-hyped ‘Chotukool’ refrigerator from the appliances division of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd may take a year to launch, according to company chairman Jamshyd Godrej.
Godrej Appliances is test-marketing the product in Maharashtra. It was earlier eyeing a March 2010 launch.
But, this may not happen, says Godrej, as the company looks at alternative channels of distribution. “By alternative channels, I mean a community-led distribution model. We are working with non-governmental organisations to try and facilitate distribution of Chotukool at the community level. We are not looking at conventional dealers, distributors and retailers to push the product. Building this model will take some time,” he says.
Like the Nano from Tata Motors, which lowered the price point of entry-level cars to Rs 1 lakh, Chotukool does the same in refrigerators, billed as the world’s lowest-priced model at Rs 3,250. Weighing just 7.8 kg, it has a capacity of 30-40 litres and is devoid of a compressor, running on a battery and cooling chips instead.
The product is targeted mainly at rural areas, keeping in mind consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, says Godrej.
This consumer, incidentally, is one that most durables’ companies are after today. The sub-Rs 7,000 range, in particular, is the new price point that companies such as LG and Godrej Appliances have identified to get consumers, especially in Tier-II, III and IV cities into their fold, as far as refrigerators go. Typically, entry-level refrigerator models are priced above Rs 7,000.
Besides Chotukool, Godrej Appliances is looking at other models in the sub-Rs 7,000 range. Rival LG is also planning to launch a refrigerator with a price tag of Rs 6,900 by March this year. Whirlpool has not ruled out the possibility of a product in the segment, while Videocon already has refrigerators in the sub-Rs-7,000 range.
According to the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers’ Association, refrigerator penetration is less than 18 per cent in India. The potential, say observers, is clearly there. Companies are rushing to encash that.