Vacuum robots clean up in Chinese market

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/28 18:33:40

Consumers seek quality amid growing demand for devices

Colin Angle, CEO and founder of iRobot Photo: courtesy of iRobot


An iRobot Roomba i7+ robot vacuum with automatic dirt disposal Photo: courtesy of iRobot


China has become the world's largest market for vacuuming robots, and its scale and quality is improving rapidly, according to US-based iRobot, a top firm for home robots.

In a recent interview with the Global Times, Colin Angle, CEO and founder of iRobot, said the Chinese market has undergone tremendous change since 2016, when the company first set up an office in Shanghai.

"Now China is already the world's biggest market for vacuuming robots in a matter of just a few years," Angle said.

Although the market for vacuuming robots in China emerged relatively late compared to Europe and the US, its growth has been rapid. 

According to data from All View Cloud, retail sales of China's vacuuming robots reached 7.8 billion yuan in 2018, up 49.2 percent year-on-year, and its retail volume was 6.05 million units, up 45.2 percent year-on-year.

China's vacuuming robot market has developed rapidly in recent years as local leaders and new brands have emerged, intensifying competition.

Last year in May, Suzhou-based Ecovacs Robotics debuted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the company issued 40.1 million shares at 20.2 yuan ($3.13) each on the A-share market. Chinese tech giant Xiaomi also launched vacuuming robots more than two years ago. But the executive noted that the Chinese market is different from the rest of the world because as more consumers buy these robots, the average price of the products has actually climbed as consumers focus more on quality and performance. 

According to GFK's online sales statistics for China in 2018, the average sales price of vacuuming robots has increased by about 17 percent. In other mature markets, once the demand rises, the prices have tended to decline.

In the face of fierce competition, currently, iRobot retains only a few entry-level product models in China. 

According to industry consensus, China's low-end vacuuming robot market is much larger than the US market. However, Angle expects that with the upgrade of China's consumption, the market potential of China's high-end vacuuming robots will be great in the future.

Angle said global sales revenue of iRobot products grew 24 percent in 2018 to exceed $1 billion. 

Growth in Asian markets was strong but the North American market was the top performing market. The company did not reveal specific data.

To cater to the needs of the Chinese mainland market, the company supplied special models to online marketplace and Tmall, the two leading online platforms in China. 

The company will introduce its Roomba i7 robot vacuum to the China market in March. The robot can learn and remember a home's floor plan, tell a kitchen from a living room, and empty its own dustbin. 

The company also set up an R&D center in Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province as one of its three global R&D centers - its first outside the US - in a drive to tap the local talent pool and manufacturing resources.

"We hope we can further improve our brand recognition in the Chinese market," he said. 

Global Times


Posted in: COMPANIES

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