Stuck at home, Indians are spending big bucks on upgrading their kitchens

Can’t stay, can’t live.
Can’t stay, can’t live.
Image: REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani
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Stuck indoors in the middle of a pandemic, Indians are overhauling their kitchens.

Demand for microwaves, juicer mixer grinders, and hand blender has increased across the country in recent months. “Kitchen appliances—both large and small—have witnessed a rise in demand, with a special focus on certain niche segments like automated or app-controlled products,” a spokesperson at leading e-commerce firm Flipkart told Quartz.

Between March and now, the Walmart-owned company has seen a four-fold increase in the smart kitchen segment, which includes appliances such as kettles, toasters, vacuum cleaners, and water purifiers. Much of this growth has come from smaller towns and cities such as Patna, Lucknow, Nagpur, Chandigarh, and Vadodara, the company said.

Upgrading kitchens

This sudden uptick in demand has come as a blessing in disguise for electronics makers at a time when most industries grapple with subdued sales due to a Covid-19 triggered economic slump.

Despite concerns of falling discretionary spending amid layoffs and salary cuts, Japanese electronics maker Panasonic is seeing a considerable boom in the number of first-time buyers in India.

“With the unlocking of operations, the sales have slowly started to pick-up…the semi-urban and rural markets are at the forefront of driving growth. From tier-2 markets, we have registered a positive 13% and 19% growth in June and July, respectively,” Suguru Takamatsu, divisional head at Panasonic India told Quartz. “The growth was majorly driven by the accelerated demand for microwave oven, direct cool refrigerators, and semi-automatic washing machines.”

Various cooking, baking, and do-it-yourself trends across social media have also boosted the sales of microwave ovens and refrigerators, Takamatsu added.

Other brands are registering a similar trend.

Samsung is seeing an increasing trend of consumers wanting to equip their homes with the latest technology. “Consumers are buying five-in-one smart convertible refrigerators and hygiene steam washing machines. Also, 300-litre and above refrigerators are in high demand,” said Raju Pullan, senior vice-president of consumer electronics business at Samsung India.

Quartz reported on Oct.5 that dishwasher sales in the country are shooting up as most Indians are juggling between working from home and doing household chores.

Besides the kitchen, companies are also seeing a surprise recovery in demand of other segments which is largely driven by the shift towards online education, work from home, and people consuming more content on OTT platforms like Netflix.

“As consumer needs are changing, many, including those in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well as rural areas are buying bigger smart TVs that are 55 inches and above,” said Pullan.