Home printer sales in India have nearly doubled after imposition of lockdown as a result of COVID-19 as many people started working from home (WFH) and studying from home. New research shows that a number of people have chosen to go for ink-tank printers over cartridge-based laser printers. Many parents are eager to buy and keep a printer for their studying children and also there is an increasing interaction with their children. For example, today the parents and elders helping their children to do homework has become a more regular activity at homes. During lockdown and also later, going to job printers has become undesirable due to the fears of infection. Having a printer at home became a more convenient and reliable option.
The top three players in the home printer market in the country, namely, HP, Canon, and Epson, are have seen a notable increase in demand for home printers. This can be attributed to the increasing need of printing needs from the home learning, the WFH and SMB segments, according to research. There has been a consistent shift towards the blended learning patterns that includes a mix of both digital and physical learning methods which are driving home printing demand. While schools largely don’t mandate printouts, parents are wary of exposing their kids to too much screen time and hence taking hard copies of documents to reduce eye strain.
Certain professionals, such as lawyers and chartered accountants (CAs) who must read through high-volume content, are increasingly using home printers as it is easier to read and review hard copies than soft-copies. A lot of document scanning for reimbursement claims is also being done from homes and small offices. According to a report, the printers and peripherals market in India registered a year-over-year decline of 4.7 percent in the calendar year 2019, but starting from April 202, the market has seen a positive sign through the increase in demand of home printers.
In addition to Epson, Canon is also expecting a double-digit growth in the home printer segment in the country.
Ink-tank continues to lead the market
At present, the demand is at peak for the ink-tank printers supporting Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless printing. Since ink-tank printers are more economical over laser and inkjet cartridge printers, besides giving higher print page yield per a bottle of ink, people are preferring ink-tank printers over laserjet and traditional cartridge inkjet options.
Growth across online and offline channels
So far, the retail market in India has been offline-dominated, however, in the last few months, there has been a considerable increase in the orders through online marketplaces. Apart from the metros, a increasing number of customers from smaller towns have been found to shop for home printers on online.
Similar to Amazon, Flipkart is also witnessing a spike in demand for home printers. There has been a significant increase in online searches for various kinds of printers (inkjet, ink-tank and laser), especially for the wireless printers. Next, an increasing number of consumers are opting for affordable payment constructs with one out of every four customers opting for a card offer or a no-cost EMI offer for printers, suggesting that affordability is an important criterion for most buyers.
What the printer providers need to do deal with the changing demand patterns in the market?
The surge in demand for home printers will help improve the overall market to some extent, but it might not be sufficient to fill the gap (by volume or value) created by a shortfall in demand for laser printers, primarily from micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), corporates, and the government. Printer companies including HP, Canon, and Epson also need to consider the evolving purchase behavior of customers to bring appropriate models in the market. The e-commerce sites have seen a steady increase in demand from many smaller towns and there is a need to expand and improve the reach of retails and after-sales-services in such regions. The after-sales-service will be a critical parameter for ensuring customer satisfaction in T2 and T3 towns. The need of the hour is to ensure seamless and remote technical assistance to customers and increasing the brand loyalty amongst them.