Whirlpool Applicance Sales in India continue to rise

Whirlpool Applicance Sales in India continue to rise

Who says you can’t beat the Chinese and Korean companies in mature categories? Look at Whirlpool’s spectacular run in India.  The American company known for washing machines and refrigerators reported a 32 per cent sales increase in India in the six months ending September 2010.  Profits of their India company grew by a third as well and its stock, traded on the Mumbai stock exchange is at an all time high.

The company entered India with a manufacturing facility in the former French enclave of Pondicherry in the late 1980s. Shortly after India liberalized, Whirlpool made a bold move by acquiring an India refrigerator brand, Kelvinator, at a time when such acquisitions were almost unheard of in India.

Its success recognized the need to create products that address India’s unique needs such as frequent power outages, the use of servants to wash clothes by hand, and middle class concerns about bacteria in India’s tropical climate.   In my book, I talk about how Whirlpool washing machine ads used to compare its agitator with hand-washing (as if to imply that the machine is almost as good as your servant’s hand washing).   One of their latest products, the curiously named Protton refrigerator (below) boasts a  “Freshness Booster System” keeps vegetables fresh  via the use of de-oxidizers and humidity locks, for example. Indian spicy aromas tend to interact inside a fridge and smell up the milk or ice cream; Whirlpool provided three doors on the new model, with separate zones for systematic and odor free storage of frozen food, fresh food & vegetables separately.

Whirlpool Refrigerator for India market
Whirlpool's new Protton Fridge

Whirlpool is also branching out beyond India’s top cities to address markets in 2nd and 3rd tier towns where many Indians are buying their first major appliances. Its competitors are Chines companies such as Haier, Korea companies including Samsung and Lucky Goldstar and some legacy Indian brands.


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