May 24--Thailand's refrigerator market will resume growth this year after a contraction in 2016, says Panasonic AP Sales Thailand Co, the distributor of Panasonic home appliances.
Managing director Takeshi Nomoto projects that the overall refrigerator business will grow 3% in terms of value to 13.2 billion baht and 14% in terms of volume to 1.6 million sets.
He said the market will improve significantly because there are many positive factors such as strong spending power among middle-income people and the continued rebound of the Thai economy, which posted 3.3% growth in the first quarter.
Moreover, the penetration rate of refrigerators in Thailand is only 60%, providing ample room for growth.
"People have moved to buying bigger-sized refrigerators and this will help boost overall sales in the market," said Mr Nomoto.
Last year, the refrigerator market shrank nearly 4% year-on-year to 12.8 billion baht and 1.4 million sets due mainly to the impact of the economic slowdown and weak consumption. Consumer sentiment was poor and spending fell significantly in November in the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's passing.
The overall home appliance industry, including refrigerators, began recovering in the first quarter. According to market research firm Nielsen Thailand, sales of durable goods such as home appliances grew 1.25% in the three-month period.
This year, Mr Nomoto said that Panasonic's aggressive marketing activities kicked off faster than last year. The company is further moving into the mid- and high-priced segments to pounce on growing demand this year.
For the Panasonic brand, the company has several tactics to grow refrigerator sales, including launching more mid- to high-priced models to reach younger customers, who have high spending power, as well as implementing music marketing to build up brand awareness.
The company also hired actor Naphat "Nine" Siangsomboon to represent the brand among younger people.
Panasonic has released 12 new refrigerator models to meet demand among a wide range of customers, and is marketing products both on and offline to raise brand awareness.
Sales of Panasonic refrigerators in the first four months of this year grew by 5%, outpacing industry growth. For the full year, the company expects sales to grow by 10% to 2.37 billion baht.
Currently, Panasonic is among the top five refrigerator brands in Thailand, controlling almost 20% of the market.
Panasonic AP's sales increased 15% to 12 billion baht in its 2016 fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. Of the total, about 37% came from its air conditioners, 18% from refrigerators, 16% from washing machines and the remaining 29% from others.
The firm expects sales in the 2017 fiscal year starting from April 1 and ending on March 31, 2018 to grow by 10% to 13.2 billion baht. Of the total, 40% will come from air conditioners, 20% from refrigerators and 17% from washing machines.
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