You might say that you enjoy cleaning your room as it calms you down or that you find organizing your desk to be therapeutic, but nobody truly enjoys doing household chores every day. Especially washing the dishes which is one of the most hated household chores. The sheer annoyance of watching the sink fill up with dirty dishes after you just washed all the utensils is universal. Staying locked at home means juggling household chores, working a job, and still find time to relax or watch a movie. With dishes piling up and no domestic help around during the pandemic, Indians are starting to consider using an automated helping hand- the dishwasher.
Dishwasher sales are on a steady rise. “We have witnessed significant growth in the demand for dishwashers across cities to the tune of 230% over the pre-lockdown period (before March 25) as an increasing number of consumers opt for home automation products to save on time,” a spokesperson of Walmart-owned Flipkart explains in an interview with Quartz. “The 12 place dishwashers have been the most popular in the category.”
This doesn’t mean people are getting lazy or shying away from responsibilities, rather it means that people will now have more leisure time for themselves.
Indians using a dishwasher can have more leisure time during the pandemic
In Indian households, the responsibilities of household chores disproportionately rest upon women compared to men. While men lounge on the sofa after work, women are expected to keep running errands and keep the house in good shape.
Even in households where men and women share the workload, the woman’s share is still higher than the man. And work-from-home risks hurting women’s performance at work since they’re split between different commitments and unable to focus. So, the growth in demand for dishwashers is a good thing as it can take some weight off people’s shoulders, particularly women.
It can free women from laborious tasks and allow them to pursue hobbies or get some much-needed rest in between looking after their kids and work. It’s not just economically and personally beneficial but also environmentally as dishwashers are more water-efficient and may even have a lower carbon footprint than manual dishwashing.
Is using a dishwasher cheaper than domestic help for Indians?
According to an estimate by the Print, a dishwasher costs Rs 30,000 to purchase, and Rs 500 per month to run (dishwasher powder), works out to Rs 33 per day (over a five-year machine lifetime). Hiring domestic help, on the other hand, would amount to a lesser cost as the average salaries of these workers are under Rs3,000 ($45) a month.
However, due to the fear of the virus, people are hesitant to let their domestic help inside their homes again. In pre-pandemic times, it would be economically reasonable for middle-class and upper-middle-class households to choose domestic help over a more expensive dishwasher but now it’s the best option to regain lost leisure time. Spending time on household chores means losing out on time devoted to work and self-growth and many people seem to be realizing that.
The demand for dishwashers is at an all-time high in India
Amazon India has seen a five-fold increase in search queries for dishwashers since the lockdown began. “Customers in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi, and Mumbai are making most of the purchases in the category”, says Suchit Subhas, director of large appliances and furniture at the e-commerce company.
The demand has skyrocketed to such an extent that companies are struggling to cater to customers in certain cities. Ashok Mitthal, an electronics store owner in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut says, “Customers are enquiring about the product but we don’t have it with us because there wasn’t any demand earlier. We are receiving many bookings but we don’t know whether we will be able to deliver or not.”
Many companies are pleasantly surprised by this change, “Consumers are looking for effort minimization, storage, and hygiene in the new normal. There is clearly a trend of substituting domestic help with gadgets,” Kamal Nandi, business head of Godrej Appliances told Business Today.
Vijay Babu, VP (Home Appliances) at LG Electronics India, says, “During this lockdown, one product that has caught the attention of homemakers is the dishwasher. We have seen a 400-500% surge in demand for this product during this period.” This spike in demand shows that Indians are ready to venture into unexplored territory to avoid compromising on work and managing their time more efficiently.
Indians weren’t big fans of dishwashers before
Before the pandemic, very few Indians were using a dishwasher. In terms of sales, according to a report, the market share of dishwashers (Rs 140-200 crore) was way lower than that of air-conditioners (Rs 20,000 crore), refrigerators (Rs 21,000 crore), and washing machines (Rs 8,000 crore).
Some Indians are also wary of dishwashers as they may take up too much space or the fear that it wouldn’t be effective on plates stained with Indian food. However, this may not necessarily be true as many manufacturers keep their target audience in mind when designing their products.
For instance, Dishwashers for Indian customers are designed in relation to the shapes and sizes of Indian utensils and can hold them easily. To handle the masala or oil stains, many dishwashers are equipped with powerful sprays of hot water pressure to ensure the job gets done.
And with the extraordinary circumstances, we’re in, brands have a golden opportunity to sway public opinion toward getting a dishwasher. Electronic brands are set to capitalize on the approaching festival season by launching newer and more alluring products that will appeal to Indian sensibilities. Maybe in the near future, the dishwasher could be a common if not a necessary appliance in the kitchen.