Air-con makers get ready for battle

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Air conditioner sales are influenced heavily by the desire to lead a healthy life, Indonesian manufactures say.

With global warming gradually causing the temperature to rise, it would be fair to assume that people generally purchased air conditioners to cool themselves down.

However, the country's market leaders in the air-conditioning business claim people are more concerned with the health features air conditioners offer, with most units on the market these days equipped with air purification technology.

"Air conditioners were once considered prestige appliances as only consumers in the middle and high income brackets were able to afford them," LG Electronics Indonesia product manager Albert Fleming told The Jakarta Post last week.

He said while households had only one refrigerator and washing machine, it was common to see more than one air conditioner in a home.

LG is the second highest seller of air-conditioning units in the country, holding a 20- to 25-percent share of the market.

Panasonic Gobel Indonesia holds the largest market share at 30 percent, while Sharp Electronics Indonesia comes third with a 12.5 percent market share.

Annually, some 750,000 air-conditioning units are sold in the country, with sales expected to increase by 15 percent over the next five years according to the GFC research agency.

With the prospect of many new residential complexes being built in the future, the demand for air conditioners will inevitably increase, Albert said.

Andry Adi Utomo, a senior manager at Sharp, said his company planned to secure a larger share of the market next year by introducing six new air conditioner models.

"But we cannot elaborate on what these new models will offer as they are our 'secret weapon' for next year," he said.

Air conditioner product manager at Panasonic, Togar Lumbantoruan, said his company would rely on advanced product technology and features to challenge the company's competitors.

Togar said all Panasonic air conditioners were equipped with inverters that had the capacity to save up to 50 percent in electricity costs.

Air-purifying features were also prominent on the company's air conditioners, he said.

Togar said Panasonic was confident of retaining its market lead in Indonesia.

"We aim to increase out market share to 35 percent next year," he said.

Panasonic's top-selling air conditioner is the Envio, Togar said, adding that 150,000 units of the product had been sold this year.

"Most consumers by this product for its air-purification features," he said.

Albert said LG was aiming to increase its market share to 27 percent next year, while Andry said Sharp was looking so secure a 20-percent share of the market in 2008. (14)
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