Though endangers life quality, the persisting smog in China offers a boost for some sectors to boom. Clothes dryer sector, as health concerns over hanging clothes out in smog swirl, becomes one of the beneficiaries.

Positioned to boom

Clothes dryers, a must-have for Southern China residents to cope with rainy seasons, has grown to be an absolute need in Northern China too when smog gets worse. An officer from a washer enterprise reveals that, “smog does drive up sales of dryers.”

Apart from the weather, improved life quality and related policies also play a part. China’s accelerating urbanization and increased average income allow consumers to look for better life. What’s more, bans on hanging clothes out in Jinan, Shandong province and more places in China are expected to contribute further to this market expansion.

Dryers are good for health. It is learned that, with anti-bacterial function, dryers can effectively prevent health risks posed by improper clothes hanging. Testing results from China Household Electric Appliance Research Institute indicate that, dryers are capable of eliminating 99.9% of escherichia coli and staphylococcus aureus.

It is still a niche market in China. Jin Liang, General Manager of Refrigerator and Washer Division under Gome, a leading home appliance retailer in China, tells China Appliance reporter that, “dryers post a penetration rate of up to 65% in some countries. In North America, this number is a whopping 95%.”

A disparity between domestic and international dryer markets can be easily noticed from China customs statistics: export volume of dryers register 60,000 units in 2016 while import volume posts merely 722 units. And import volume has remained hundreds in recent years with no clear fluctuation. An industry insider estimates that, washers and dryers take a proportion of 1.2 to 1 in developed countries. But in China, as our reporter learns, penetration rate of dryers is less than 1%. This sector has huge potential compared to China’s existing washer market.

According to Wei Jun, General Manger of White Goods Division under China Market Monitor Co., Ltd., high penetration rate of dryers in overseas market comes from the following: Firstly, a solid economic base in developed countries enables consumers to pursue higher life quality; secondly, bans on hanging clothes out in some countries also play a part.

The industry goes to great length to embrace a promising future

Driven by all these positive factors, manufacturers, distributors and industry experts spare no efforts to expand the presence of dryers. China’s dryer sector saw a clear increase in market size in 2016. Statistics from China Market Monitor suggests that, retail sales and sales volume of dryers register a year-on-year rise of 103.02% and 181.14% in 2016. Statistics from All View Cloud indicates that, separate dryers register a sales volume of 156,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 53.2%, and sales of 500 million Yuan, a year-on-year increase of 65.3%. According to Jin Liang from Gome, sales of dryers from Gome have seen an increase of at least 150% in 2016.

Bosch and Siemens are two absolute leaders in China’s dryer market. According to All View Cloud, separate dryers from Bosch and Siemens account for 70% of China’s dryer market by sales. Haier, Little Swan, Panasonic, Beko and Galanz are also active players. An officer from Samsung reveals that Samsung is set to roll out dryers in China in 2017. China Appliance reporter notices that, dryer manufacturers have grown year-on-year in not only product quantity, but also in promotion campaigns.

Alongside manufacturers, large distributors also go to great length to expand the presence of dryers. It is learned that Gome is set to establish 100 experience centers of dryers across China to allow consumers to experience firsthand the whole process of drying clothes.

Industry insiders hold a positive vision about dryers’ market prospects. An officer from Midea believes that, in line with consumers’ notion of a green, stylish and healthy lifestyle, dryers could be a new growth point. Most interviewed enterprises show interests and confidence in this sector. Lu Jianguo, Vice Chief Engineer of China Household Electric Appliance Institute, believes that, China’s dryer market has great potential to deliver as residents’ living standard and life quality improve.

China’s dryer market secures a good start in 2017. According to offline monitoring data of China Market Monitor, retail sales volume and sales of dryers post a year-on-year increase of 26.32% and 76.84% respectively for January 2017. Drying clothes, as a pain point, is increasingly noticed by manufacturers. Washer and dryer combos are expanding presence fast. Jin Liang from Gome says, “Separate dryers outperform combos in both functional options and drying performance.”

Heat pump dryers in lead

“Heat pump dryer market grows fast.” An industry insider says. It is learned that clothes dryers span tumbler dryers, condenser dryers and heat pump dryers roughly. With no heating pipe, heat pump dryers, use its heat pump system to recycle heat generated in drying process, and improve efficiency through this process. Currently, most high-end dryers are of this type.

An industry insider introduces that, with low energy consumption and high efficiency, heat pump dryers work at a lower temperature than condenser dryers, and therefore have a better performance in clothes care. Heat pump dryer from Little Swan uses a fully closed venting system integrated with a heat pump recycling low-temperature drying system (less than 70°C), a condensing dehumidifying system, and a non-humidity heat venting system. Equipped with smart humidity and temperature sensor, double waterways for condensed water collection and storage, and a three layer filter system, it cuts down on 40% of energy consumption, compared to condenser dryers, and 50% compared to tumbler dryers.

In addition of habits, more factors are hindering consumers to buy dryers: high price and small room size. An interviewee in a coastal city of Guangxi province shares his view, “I had urgent demand for a clothes dryer in early spring, but intimidated by the price.” Besides, dryers are commonly placed in kitchen or bathroom, but the small size Chinese kitchen and bathroom fail to serve this role in many cases.

These concerns drive enterprises to step up their efforts in promoting combos. We learn from Samsung that, washer and dryer combo contributes a big part in the current market position of front loaders. Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu have seen the fastest growth of combos. Statistics from JD.COM, a leading online retailer of China, suggest that, washer and dryer combos have seen an explosive growth on JD.COM, a year-on-year increase of five times. The development of China’s dryer market is dependent on combos. Nowadays, more and more washers integrate drying as a function, with prices going down.

Combos have downsides too. An industry insider believes that, “combos are transitional products.” An officer from China Household Electric Appliance Institute points out that, combos fall short of the drying performance of separate dryers. Our reporter notices that, drying capacity of combos is only half of its washing capacity, but drying half load each time in not a great user experience. In addition, the moisture inside combos creates a hotbed for bacterial. In this connection, separate dryers, compared to combos, have a larger market potential as China’s consumption upgrading continues.