China Focus: High-end home appliances popular with Chinese consumers

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-08 20:37:19|Editor: zh
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HEFEI, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Wang Gang, a resident in east China's city of Hangzhou, was looking for a refrigerator that could fit into the small kitchen in his new apartment.

He finally picked a "skinny" refrigerator featuring a slim stature and a generous storage space.

The refrigerator occupies only 60 percent of the floor space needed by a standard refrigerator, but its storage is about 20 percent larger. With a much thinner door, it is perfect for a space-starved kitchen.

"The slim refrigerator is more expensive than a standard one, but I think it's a good choice because my family needs one that has bigger storage space and more functions," Wang said.

Like Wang, an increasing number of Chinese consumers are willing to spend big bucks on high-end home appliances.

The volume of China's household electric appliances reached 810.4 billion yuan (about 120.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 1.9 percent, according to a report released by the national household electric appliance industry information center.

The report said Chinese consumers show a growing demand for high-end and personalized home appliances. For instance, the market share of smart washing machines, which can automatically dispense detergent, grew from 36.6 percent in 2017 to 39.8 percent last year.

"The consumption of home appliances in China didn't decline. Rather, Chinese consumers are more willing to buy high-quality and more personalized products," said Zhong Ming, vice president of the company that manufactures Wang's refrigerator.

"That requires home appliance manufacturers to constantly upgrade their products," Zhong added.

Many Chinese home appliance makers including Zhong's company are seeking to cash in on the country's consumption upgrade.

China's leading artificial intelligence (AI) firm iFlytek is working to embed its AI technologies such as voice recognition into home appliances and service robots to improve their ability to interact with people.

Ding Rui, director of the company's open platform business, said AI technologies can make the hardware smarter, enabling it to better understand and follow people's instructions.

Other high-end home appliances, such as curved TVs, high-speed blenders and wind-free air conditioners, have also posted strong performances in the Chinese market.

Consumers now prefer smarter home appliances that cater to their pursuit of a more comfortable life, said Song Jingxue, head of the research department of the national household electric appliance industry information center.

"Consumption upgrade has become a new driver of growth for China's home appliance industry," he said.