Cookie Settings

If you click on “Accept”, you allow us to record your usage behavior on this website. This enables us to improve our website. If you click on "Decline", we only use session cookies, which serve to improve user-friendliness and to measure the statistical range.

The sustainability journey has already started traction in India - Home appliances can help to overcome major challenges

The sustainability journey has already started traction in India - Home appliances can help to overcome major challenges

Reading time: 7 minutes

We give our all for improving our consumers’ quality of life at home. To understand what moves them when it comes to sustainability, what they expect from companies like us and how they are trying to live more sustainably, we reviewed the results of recent Kantar consumer studies. The results? While sustainability is a globally relevant issue, the specific challenges, living conditions and personal expectations vary greatly from country to country. Therefore, we will take an even closer look at four different countries in the upcoming weeks – starting with India. Let’s find out together what's on the minds of Indian households. Because every journey starts at home.

The Concerns of Indian Consumers

India is the seventh largest country by area and with a population of roughly 1.4 billion is set to surpass China as the world’s most populous country during 2023 – the UN projects. However, despite the similarity in population size, there is one important difference between India and China: population density. While China has a population density of 153 people/km², it’s 464 people/km² in India. This, of course, leads to special environmental challenges. For instance, India suffers from the highest death toll worldwide resulting from air pollution. 

With a view to global warming, India also plays an important role. With an absolute amount of 2648.78 metric tons, India was the third largest CO2 emitter in 2021. This equals roughly 7 percent of the total carbon emissions that were caused worldwide. (China: 12466.32 metric tons; 32.93 percent of total CO2 emissions worldwide. USA: 4752.08 metric tons; 12.55 percent of total CO2 emissions worldwide.)1
The results of a recent Kantar consumer study on sustainability from 2020 do therefore not come as very surprising. Briefly, Indian consumers are especially concerned, among others, about air pollution, water pollution and a lack of clean and safe water. However, the results vary depending on the actual living circumstances. Let’s take a closer look.
Actions against air pollution

Air pollution is one of the most pressing topics in India. With the highest air pollution death toll worldwide, many Indian consumers worry about their health. During 2020 and 2021, 132 so-called “Clean Air City Action Plans” have been prepared and approved for 132 identified cities in 24 states. These action plans have been rolled out for implementation targeting city-specific air-polluting sources such as soil & road dust, vehicles, domestic fuel, municipal solid waste burning, construction material and Industries, etc. Actions have been prepared for short, medium and longer period along with the identification of responsible agencies.



When water is scarce and not clean 

In recent years, the discrepancy between the demand and availability of water has grown in India. Demand is increasing primarily due to the growing population and the booming economy ((8.3 percent Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 20212)). As the population grows, the demand for drinking water and water for sanitation therefore also increases. However, the booming economy also generates an increasing industrial demand for water, sometimes leading to the pollution of freshwater. 
As a result, India is one of the most water-stressed regions in the world. According to a NITI Aayog report from 2018, roughly 600 million Indians face extreme water stress. It warns that by 2030 water demand could double the existing supply, which could lead to severe water scarcity for millions of people, and an approximate 6 percent loss of its GDP. 
In addition, due to climate change, India is increasingly confronted with only very irregular rainfall. As a result, the Indian government extensively invested in programs to improve the water supply in recent years.


How does the water supply and treatment look like as of today? 

As the Central Pollution Control Board stated in March 2021, India’s water treatment capacity is 27.3 percent and the sewage treatment capacity is 18.6 percent. The relatively low figures correspond with the diverse living circumstances in India. While the population density is generally extremely high, still 70 percent of India’s inhabitants live in rather rural areas. The majority of the population, therefore, has no access at all to sanitation. 
Thus, state water treatment only exists in urban areas, while people in rural areas often even lack toilets. The water treatment is essentially limited to filtering off visible impurities and chlorination at intermediate storage points. Water filters are therefore already widespread in 35 percent of households - and the trend in urban areas is increasing.
Sustainability and a mindset shift among young Indian consumers

While pressing issues like access to clean, safe water and air pollution are already at the top of the government’s agenda and on people’s minds, other sustainability-related topics are gaining importance as well – even among pupils in school.

“School plays a decisive role in change”, says Nitin Mishra, who leads Category Marketing for dishcare and refrigeration in BSH India. His sons Rakshit (aged 18) and Ronit (aged 13) regularly participate in sustainability competitions and activities at school, including projects like making the most out of waste, plantation activities, science fairs, inter-school competitions on innovations for sustainable solutions in daily life, and so on – some of them even at the national level. Both boys are also aware of the importance of the efficient use of energy and water.

In recent years, awareness about the environment has consequently improved among young people in India. One result is that many five to twelve-year-olds now think that the traditionally exuberant Diwali festival should use fewer or eco-friendly firecrackers3. Other mindset changes include an increased awareness of using reusable cotton shopping bags instead of plastic bags.


“During my own school lessons back in the 90s, environmental protection was rather a theoretical idea. Now it is a very practical aspect of today’s school life”, explains Nitin.
Increased Awareness of Sustainability Fuels Demand for More Information among Indian Consumers

“We expect that the work we do today will impact the decisions of our future consumers who are already growing up with a mindset which has sustainable living at its core. They are likely to take greater notice of our company’s focus on this subject as we collectively mitigate environmental impacts.”, concludes Manali Parmar, Corporate Communications Manager at BSH India.

While Indian consumers' awareness of sustainability is increasing, the need for information is also growing.

BSH made particular progress with dishwashers. Currently still a niche segment - only 0.3 percent of the Indian population owns such an appliance - it offers consumers a great deal of potential in terms of water savings and convenience. Over the past two years, BSH has therefore invested a great deal of effort in explaining how the dishwasher works and highlighting its potential for saving water and energy. "Through our live demo units, we were able to reach around 700,000 people within the first two years (2018-19)," reports Manali proudly. “Water is a strong area for us to focus on as we have dishwashers and laundry care products that help save water, which makes us a credible actor – especially with our brand Bosch.” 


“As a manufacturer of home appliances, we also have a responsibility here. We not only have to develop very efficient home appliances, but also explain their benefits to consumers and how they can make a huge contribution to environmental protection”, predicts Manali. 

Pandemic and Social Shifts as Catalysts towards Sustainable Practices 

The dishwasher market mainly exists in the urban areas today. The catalyst for change has been a combination of two parallel developments in recent years: The Corona pandemic and a successive societal change towards domestic workers and the workers themselves. 

“Many Indian households enjoy two cooked meals a day, which also means washing up twice a day. For generations, this has been a domestic worker’s task in many Indian households”, explains Akhil Mahindroo, Category Lead for DishCare. “As their education gets better, wages increase and society, in general, undergoes change, workers are today treated with more empathy and respect than in the past. The Corona pandemic has boosted domestic help’s unwillingness to do less “undignified” work, for instance, handling potentially Covid-infected plates and cutlery."

Another factor is that homeowners try to save water more and more, and a dishwasher is an easy method to do so. “This is already having an impact on well-to-do households who are becoming more considerate of people in less privileged circumstances”, explains Akhil.



"Both homeowners and workers realize that a dishwasher means more personal hygiene in the kitchen.”

Consumer-Centric Innovations by BSH: Fighting Food Waste 
The Food Waste Index Report 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme indicates that the annual average food wastage by an Indian household is 50 kg, which is comparatively lower than most developed nations. Nevertheless, remains a matter of concern for Indian consumers. “Despite dishwashing, food storage and therefore cooling is a huge topic here in India”, says Nitin. In April 2022, BSH launched the MaxFlex refrigerator from Bosch, which is a dream come true for every Indian family. Its revolutionary third compartment offers true flexibility, converting to fridge or freezer on demand.
Since India is a huge country with very diverse states, there are also different local festivities, changing with the seasons. These cultural nuances directly influence local food consumption. Many seasonal fruits and vegetables are available only for two or three months, like Mangos, for example. Consumers cook them from April to July and consume them throughout the year. These are later made into delicious pickles and stored in refrigerators so they can be consumed throughout the year. Furthermore, there are many cultural festivities and feasts in India, for which consumers purchase lots of food at a time. Thus, they need not just larger but also more flexible spaces in their refrigerators.


Test Center in Bengaluru

The traditional ratio of fridge and freezer does often not meet these requirements. This is where the MaxFlex refrigerator from Bosch with its convertible third compartment comes into play. Despite additional space, this compartment also helps to separate food items within the appliance, locating them easier and limiting door opening to a specific section. Thus, the other cavities stay cool and the appliance becomes more efficient.

“We know what consumers in India want because we are so close to them”, explains Manali. “BSH has invested itself deeply to understand the various nuances of an Indian household. We are now equipped with local production of home appliances at our Chennai Factory, which currently operates for cooktops, cooling and laundry care appliances. In Bengaluru, BSH runs a state-of-the-art research & development centre, which has become a technology and innovation hub for Asia Pacific and emerging markets. And of course, in this way BSH creates local employment opportunities and at the same time strengthens the local economy.”
In India, BSH provides the complete portfolio of home appliances under the Bosch, Siemens and Gaggenau brands.





BSH all over the world.

BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.