Airconditioning and commercial refrigeration major, Blue Star Limited, has announced the launch of a new range of highly intelligent and eco-friendly inverter split airconditioners for the residential segment. These airconditioners, apart from contemporary features and sophisticated technology, offer high energy efficiency resulting in significant power savings.
Blue Star, which has over seven decades of experience in providing expert cooling solutions, has been traditionally strong in the corporate and commercial segment such as offices, restaurants, showrooms, boutiques and ATMs. Three years ago, the Company forayed into the retail channel to cater to the residential segment and made significant changes to its marketing mix. This initiative met with resounding success and Blue Star's airconditioner sales have grown considerably, outperforming the market year on year. In fact, in the current year, the residential segment now contributes to over half of its overall airconditioner sales signifying the tremendous response that the Company has received from the home segment. The Company plans to continue its thrust in both the corporate & commercial segment and residential segment with its new line up of inverter split airconditioners as well as star-rated split airconditioners on the Green platform.
This summer, the Company intends to aggressively promote its new and comprehensive range of inverter split airconditioners. Inverters save upto 30% power over the 5-star rated split airconditioners. The inverter compressor in these units varies its speed depending on the ambient load, resulting in perfect cooling, apart from significant energy savings. Considering the technological advantages that inverter split airconditioners offer and the fact that the price difference between the 5-star rated split airconditioners and inverter-split airconditioners has reduced significantly, inverters are anticipated to grow exponentially over the next few years. Though inverter split airconditioners comprise over half the market in countries such as China, inverters are only about 5% of the Indian market and this share is likely to triple over the next couple of years.
The inverter split airconditioner range will is being offered in capacities of 0.75 TR, 1.0 TR, 1.5 TR and 2.0 TR. In addition to the regular 'cool' models, a full range of the same is being offered with 'heating & cooling' functions, especially meant for locations which need winter heating. In the entire inverter range of airconditioners, the refrigerant used is the eco-friendly R410 which minimises the emission of ozone depleting substances.
Apart from one-on-one inverter airconditioners, Blue Star also offers a break-through product called the Multi-Inverter Split AC, wherein an inverter-technology based outdoor unit can be coupled to three indoor units to aircondition upto three rooms simultaneously. This product range appeals to consumers who want to aircondition their entire house and at the same time would like to dramatically save on power bills making it ideal for large villas, big row houses and other multi-room applications. This futuristic range helps in reducing the number of outdoor units from three to just one unit, thereby maintaining the look of the façade of the building. The indoor units also have a state-of-the art sleek design with a diamond sparkle to appeal to interior designers and architects.
The HCFC ozone-depleting refrigerant phase-out plan is being implemented by the industry and the Blue Star has taken steps to comply with the programme. This year, Blue Star has launched the largest range of 16 models with the green R10A eco-friendly refrigerant. This range is available in 3 Star and 5 Star variants. It is also available in white and red colour models in 5 star split airconditioners. With effect from January 2014, BEE has upgraded the energy standards of room airconditioners to a higher level, in line with the Energy Conservation programme. All the star-rated units this year have a higher Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) as compared to the same star units last year, translating to savings in power bills. Blue Star's new line-up of room airconditioners comprising over 63 models adheres to the new energy standards prescribed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
The Company also plans to enhance investments on new product development and research and design initiatives in order to continue to develop modern and sophisticated products competing with the best in the world.
As regards to distribution, in 2014, Blue Star's room airconditioners will be available in 3000 outlets in around 500 locations spread across the length and breadth of the country, vide exclusive and multi-brand sales and service airconditioning dealers, retail showrooms and modern trade. The Company has also built up a strong installation and service franchise network to support the retailers. The expansion of the Company's presence in Tier 3, 4 and 5 markets has contributed immensely to its growth. Around 50% of the Company's sales are from smaller towns since consumers in these markets are aspirational and prefer premium brands.
In terms of advertising and brand communication, the Company has plans to invest about Rs 25 crores in the forthcoming summer season with a set of TV commercials supported by ads in mainline dailies, cinema and hoardings. It also intends to enhance its digital marketing efforts in social media as well as the internet, considering that most Blue Star buyers belong to the highest socio-economic category (SEC A), who are active on the internet. The differentiated value proposition to the residential audience will continue to be 'Get office-like cooling at home' which leverages Blue Star's expertise in cooling offices and communicates that one can get the very same expertise at home.
Blue Star has also been recognized as a 'Consumer and Industrial Superbrand' by Superbrands, a global agency which selects strong and powerful brands from across the world. It acknowledges that the brands to win this laurel are those with high product integrity and brand development, thus succeeding to win consumer trust. Blue Star is one of the very few brands to be accorded the Superbrands status in both, the business as well as the consumer segments.
Speaking to the Press at a conference held at Bengaluru, B Thiagarajan, Executive Director & President – AC&R Products Business, Blue Star Limited said, "The room airconditioners market in India grew by about 8% during 2013, while Blue Star outperformed the market growing 13%. We find that the room airconditioner segment is becoming more brand-conscious preferring specialist airconditioning players. This trend is helping us since Blue Star is perceived to be a premium and aspirational brand and our pedigree, product range as well as pricing is in conjunction with this image. Blue Star is a strong contender in the consideration set of the discerning consumer, and several home consumers have instilled their faith in us. In addition, Blue Star continues to be a strong player in the corporate and commercial segment which comprises 25% of the overall size. The market for room airconditioners is expected to grow by around 15% in FY15 and considering our 3-year track record of outperforming the market coupled with our impressive new energy-efficient product range, we hope to achieve growth of 25% from the residential segment."