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Change in Consumer Lifestyles in Asia Pacific Triggers Volume in Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

December 7th, 2016

Over 2016-2021, China is still expected to be a leading country in terms of absolute volume growth in robotic vacuum cleaners in Asia Pacific, with volume growth of 1.6 million units, followed by Japan and Thailand. In Asia Pacific, there are various reasons driving the growth in these countries apart from the universal preference for convenience among global consumers. The growing trend towards purchasing via internet retailing in China, the increased number of working women in Japan, in addition to the preference to stay in condominiums nearby transportation systems are triggering the growth of robotic vacuum cleaners in Asia Pacific.

Leading countries in Asia Pacific for absolute volume growth of robotic vacuum cleaners, 2016-2021

leading-apac-countries-growth-robotic-vacuum-cleaners

Source: Euromonitor International

Internet retailing plays an influential role in the growth in China

Leading brands in China, namely Ecovacs and Fmart, also offer various models with competitive unit prices in robotic vacuum cleaners ranging from USD200-300 on JD.com and tmall.com, respectively. Currently, Ecovacs holds a 43% brand share in China, followed by a 6% brand share for Fmart in 2016. Internet retailing helps lower the cost of products available in China, allowing lower unit prices to end-consumers. Internet retailing helps manufacturers bring down prices by reducing the rental costs of physical stores and the costs of staff that physical stores require. More than 2.9 million units of vacuum cleaners are purchased online in 2016, accounting for 38% of total volume of vacuum cleaners purchased in the country. Due to the growth of internet retailing in China, it is expected that the unit price of robotic vacuum cleaners will drop by another 28% over 2016-2021, continuing to have a lower price point than the regional and global prices. According to globals.ecovacs.com, the popularity of internet retailing in China allowed Ecovacs’ robotic vacuum cleaners to be purchased online tremendously within one day in China, amounted US$ 60 million on 11 November 2016. 11 November is considered as Single’s Day in China to celebrate the pride of being single, since number 1 or (11/11) represents singles. Chinese internet retailers such as Alibaba take this opportunity to sell more products online with aggressive product discounts and promotions, targeting young Chinese consumers.

Unit price of vacuum cleaners in China over 2016-2021

unit-price-robotic-vacuum-china

Percentage volume sales by channel of vacuum cleaners in China, 2010-2016

percentage-volume-sales-channel-vacuum-china

Increased female employment boosts sales of robotic vacuum in Japan

According to Euromonitor International’s data on consumers, over 2012-2016, the number of female employees in Japan, both full-time and part-time, has increased by 3% or accounted for more than 0.6 million population increased over the last five years. The increased number of working women in Japan plays an influential role in the volume growth of robotic vacuum cleaners, since more female consumers have less time to clean their house. In Japan, robotic vacuum cleaners posted a volume CAGR of 17% over 2011-2016, accounting for absolute volume growth of 250,000 units. It is expected that robotic vacuum cleaners will continue to grow in Japan over the next five years, if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘womenomics policy’ enjoys continued success. The policy is intended to boost Japan’s economy by continuing to increase the number of childcare slots available, as well as pressure private companies to disclose their action plans for hitting male and female diversity targets. An increase in demand of robotic vacuum cleaners to help women clean their home encouraged Panasonic Corp to launch its first robotic vacuum cleaners in Japan in 2015. Moreover, the potential growth of robotic vacuum cleaners in Japan also urged Dyson Appliances Ltd to launch its first robotic vacuum cleaner in Japan in 2015, prior to the launch of its product in other markets in 2016.

Employed female population aged 15-60 in Japan 2012-2016 and the volume of robotic vacuum cleaners in Japan, 2012-2016

employed-female-population-japan

Hiring domestic helpers is not feasible for urban households in Thailand

Thai urban consumers tend to live by themselves in small condominiums or apartments close to public transportation systems, such as underground trains and sky trains to avoid severe traffic jams that can last 2-3 hours in Bangkok. Condominiums in Bangkok are more affordable than in other countries in Asia Pacific, costing between USD40,000-80,000. Due to the smaller sized accommodation and the preference for living independently, it is not feasible to hire domestic workers to live in. Consumers with high disposable incomes, therefore purchase robotic vacuum cleaners to help them clean the houses on a daily basis instead. Since consumers in Bangkok are the main buyers of robotic vacuum cleaners in Thailand, iRobot Corp purposefully targets consumers in Bangkok with 47 retailers and distributors in Bangkok such as in.Life and iStudio shops, compared to only 10 retailers in other provinces across the country, in addition to another 10 online retailers in 2016. Unlike China, physical electronics and appliances specialist retailers is still a major channel for robotic vacuum cleaners in Thailand, since consumers want product demonstrations and more information about robotic vacuum cleaners from the retailers. It is expected that smaller households in Thailand will continue driving the growth of robotic vacuum cleaners at a volume CAGR of 16% over 2016-2021.

Socio-economic factors play a crucial role

Apart from an increase in product development mentioned in Era of Robotic Vacuum Cleaners, published in September 2017, other socio-economic factors such as an increase in purchases through internet retailing, the growing number of women in the workplace, as well as the shift of consumers’ preference to live in small households, help drive growth of robotic vacuum cleaners in Asia Pacific.

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Thidathip Tawichai

Thidathip Tawichai is a Consumer Appliances Analyst at Euromonitor International. She has a Master’s degree in Marketing from University of Queensland, Australia.  Professional interests include competitive analysis, marketing strategy and market research and these are reflected in the reports that she contributes to Passport: Consumer Appliances. 

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