The water heating segment has come a long way in the Indian building materials market. The growing demand for sustainable water heating systems has led to new innovations both in technology and design language in the products on offer. One of the most visible names in the Indian water heaters market – Racold (brand owned by Ariston Thermo India Pvt.Ltd.) has been leading many such innovations in the Indian market. BuildingandInteriors talks to Mr. Mohit Narula, Managing Director, Ariston Thermo India Pvt. Ltd. to understand how Racold is playing a crucial role in shaping the water heaters market in India.
B&I: As one of the major players in the Indian water heating market, how do you see this market going forward for Racold vis-à-vis the competition?
MN: The Indian water heating system market is growing with plenty of opportunities for consistent long-term growth. Racold has specialized in heating solutions for over six decades. Our growth story has been robust as we are committed to serving our consumers with a superior hot water bathing experience. We have been leveraging the strength of our global presence under the umbrella of Ariston Group, which has been into heating solutions for over 90 years. Also, we at Ariston Group believe in sustainable development and our range of energy-efficient products is a testimony to it.
Racold has won the highest number of BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) Awards – ten times from 2010 to 2020. With urbanization happening at a rapid pace, the need for a reliable system and solution for water heating is growing. Upgrades from traditional ways are fueling the growth of our category. We invest in regular consumer research to understand the needs of our consumers and offer products that match their emerging expectations. For eg. Omnis, at the top of our flagship range of water heaters, offers unmatched convenience to our consumers. We regularly pivot our GTM to reach our target consumers and offer the best possible solutions to their needs.
B&I: Tell us about your distribution network numbers across India. What are your focus products and regions over the next 1 year?
MN: ESWH (Electric Storage Water Heaters) is our mainstay at Racold. Our focus is on the premium line of water heaters like Omnis and Andris which offer better control and convenience to our discerning consumers. At the same time, we see traction in the EIWH (Electric Instantaneous Water Heaters) & HP (Heat Pump) which are going to redefine the way we use water heaters in India. We are getting demand from the remotest corners of the country. We at Ariston Thermo – Racold continue to expand our widespread retail presence in the top 100 cities and leverage our distribution network as one of our greatest strengths. Our support service is spread across 19K+ pin codes and we have over 400 service centers across the country.
B&I: Heat pumps have been getting attention in the Indian market. How is this market for you?
MN: The concept of Heat Pumps is relatively new in the country, and as yet, only a section of users has been exposed to this new-age solution. This product offers an excellent sustainable solution for all our needs. It saves electrical energy to the tune of 70% as it extracts heat/ thermal energy from the outside atmosphere air and transfers it through a working fluid to the unit heating the water. Thus it protects our planet by minimizing the use of electrical energy. It is available in different capacities and has wide applications.
The setup of the Heat Pump is similar to split ACs and can be well placed on the terrace or rooftop, thereby offering you Hot Water without compromising on the aesthetics or space of your bathroom. Demand for this new-age solution is growing and we are focusing on adding more offerings in this range. We are quite excited to contribute to the expansion of this category in India. Globally, our philosophy is to build sustainable solutions and provide everyone, in every corner of the world, with high-quality and hot water solutions, while protecting the environment Heat Pump is one such product that aligns well with our thought process.
B&I: How do you see Architects, Interior Designers, and Consultants (Influencers) with your water heating product portfolio? What kind of solutions (from your portfolio) would you look at for this community?
MN: Influencers play a critical role in our industry. They are close to consumers and play the role of consultants. Architects and Interior Designers are perceived as critical influencers and partners who connect with the consumers and help them choose the right product. They do so by explaining the features and benefits of our Water Heater range. To make the journey of choosing the right water heater smoother, we at Racold have developed a tool (hosted on racold.com) “Find Your Geyser” which enables the buyer to input his usage pattern and get the right recommendation from a wide range of Racold water heaters. Moreover, while helping consumers these influencers also share critical insights with us, which helps us to further improve our product offerings.
B&I: Tankless water heaters are another upcoming product category, especially in modular kitchens. How do you see this category shaping up?
MN: Consumer needs and expectations are evolving. So, we, as Water Heater Specialists take the responsibility of bringing the best to our consumers. With extensive research and consumer insights, our specialized R&D team at Ariston Thermo Racold has developed tankless Water Heaters which are also called No Wait Water Heaters. These remain well suited for premium urban bath spaces where consumers want instant hot water and consistent warmth. These Tankless Water Heaters are the future of this industry. So, these are available in various power ratings starting from 5.5 kW and above. Such specialized water heaters also remain equipped to provide hot water to multiple bathrooms simultaneously.
B&I: Racold has used the highly competitive electrical trade route. How do you see the bathroom trade as an alternative? Also, what is your take on the various home improvement stores coming up across India that can be seen as a threat by conventional traders?
MN: Post-COVID, the importance of homes in our lives has increased significantly. So, this has triggered the need for home improvements. The positive development in the housing sector has had a ripple effect on our category as well. Growth in the housing sector has created opportunities for customized systems and solutions in the water heating space. Consumer profiles across channels are unique be it Modern Retail / Traditional Stores / Online. In our category, there is a lot of space for all channels to co-exist and expand. There is also a potential for online to offline integration.
B&I: How do you see the water heating projects segment over the retail segment?
MN: We are a consumer brand and our expertise lies in defining the best moments of bathing. With the economy opening up (post-pandemic), we at Ariston Thermo have been witnessing traction across the project and retail segments. Overall, the construction sector has shown great signs of revival and we expect it to touch new heights. With this revival, the demand from the B2B segment is increasing. Hot water is a basic need for every household and has been gaining importance with an increased focus on hygiene. We complement the process of hygiene. Moreover, our range of specialized Racold water heaters offers a wide spectrum of options to the projects segment.
Green buildings is a catch-phrase across the globe. As a result, there is also a growing awareness in India on energy efficiency in building solutions. The trend is touted to pick more momentum with markets becoming more responsible towards the environment. The heating and ventilation is one segment of building solutions that can contribute to energy savings – it’s matter of getting the solution right. One such solutions