Despite globally weakening demand for consumer electronics, Chinese home appliance makers have seen robust sales growth in Europe and have expanded efforts to foray into the photovoltaic sector to seek new sources of revenue, industry experts said.
Major Chinese household appliance manufacturers, they said, have adopted a strategy of targeting the high-end markets overseas. These manufacturers have kept upgrading and optimizing their products to make them more intelligent, and increased brand awareness.
Chinese consumer electronics maker TCL Technology Group Corp said it is enhancing its presence in Europe by strengthening localized operations, which cover production, supply, marketing and after-sale service.
"In the first half of the year, our sales of color televisions in the European market increased by nearly 20 percent year-on-year, while the related sales revenue surged 40 percent compared with the same period last year," said Zhang Shaoyong, vice-president of TCL Industries Holdings, and CEO of TCL Electronics.
Zhang said TCL has established production bases in Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico and Poland, and will further improve the supply chain system in local markets.
Li Yongping, general manager of TCL Industries Holdings' Europe marketing department, said the company has stepped up efforts to launch mini-LED TVs with ultra-large screens in Europe, as these are more cost-effective than OLED TVs produced by South Korean home appliance makers.
According to Li, TCL will set up an e-commerce unit in Europe this year considering the strong growth in sales from e-commerce platforms. Moreover, it has sponsored many national football teams such as those of Spain and Italy.
The company also debuted its household energy management system, including solar photovoltaic, energy storage, heat pumps, and charging piles for new energy vehicles, at IFA 2023, a leading trade fair for consumer electronics held earlier this month in Berlin, Germany.
Zhang said the company's household energy solutions have great growth potential in overseas markets, such as Europe, amid soaring energy prices there.
Fang Xueyu, vice-president of Chinese home appliance maker Hisense Group's international marketing unit, said sales of its products in Europe and North America have risen by more than 20 percent year-on-year from January to August.
Fang said Hisense has achieved localized production, sales and research and development in Europe, and paid great importance to upgrading and iterating products, with the proportion of self-owned brands abroad reaching 85 percent.
The company recently said that it had become the official sponsor of the UEFA 2024 tournament.
Data from market research company GfK showed that retail sales of Hisense TVs in several European countries have seen rapid growth in the first half of the year, while its turnover jumped over 60 percent year-on-year in Germany during the January-June period.
Moreover, Europe has become the largest overseas market for Hisense's laser TVs and its laser TV sales in Germany increased 179 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year, GfK said.
Hisense also showcased its photovoltaic, heat pumps and household and commercial air conditioners at IFA 2023.
Fang said energy-saving and environmentally-friendly products are gaining in popularity among European consumers as energy prices have risen sharply.
It is inevitable that Chinese home appliance manufacturers are expanding their footprint in Europe for new profit growth points and long-term development, as the domestic home appliance market is almost saturated, said Zhao Meimei, assistant president of Beijing-based market consultancy AVC.
Building a sound global industrial chain and enhancing operational capacity in the overseas market will help Chinese home appliance companies utilize global resources, reduce costs and improve management efficiency, Zhao added.
Haier Group said it is committed to continuously improving the proportion of midrange and high-end products, and expanding its sales networks in Italy and Spain.
Chinese household appliance companies have advantages in manufacturing, operations, brand awareness and retail channels when they march into the PV industry, said Liang Zhenpeng, an independent consumer electronics analyst. The fast-developing PV sector will be one of the key growth drivers for home appliance companies, he added.