Indian market for printer consumables - Large but diversified and pricing sensitive

/ By Mr. Sanjeev Mahajan /



Editor’s note: To many people who are trying to tap into the Indian market, it is both incredible and an enigma!  It is a large market holding huge growth potential, however it is incredibly difficult to penetrate or make a sustainable profit. India is growing on a fast track and the untapped regional growth potential is an enormous one we cannot afford to miss.  Here, we asked aftermarket industry veteran, Mr. Sanjeev Mahajan   to share with us his insight and viewpoint about India’s market—its challenges, uniqueness, diversity and more.




India’s economy reaches close to US$2 trillion and becomes the third largest economy in the world based on purchasing power parity.  With 35 million small and enterprises level businesses and 58 million middle class families  with an annual income of over US$15,000 per household, the country is advancing by large leaps and is expected to continue to do so for the next ten to twenty years.


However, India is a country of diversity, comprising 28 states and 22 distinct languages , with each region divided by different cultural aspects, income levels, preferences and ways of doing things.  What works in New Delhi, for example, may not work in Mumbai, Bangalore, or Kanpur but India as a whole still works. Additionally, India is a place where brand, status, and quality matter equally but the market is highly price sensitive .

Laser printer and consumables

For fiscal year ending March 2013, laser printer sales volume in India was approximately 1,950,000 units, with laser printers /MFD showing a 7% growth in placements and a 8% increase in monetary value to US$325 million. Unit prices had increased by 10% over the previous year.


In terms of revenue, entry-level laser printers accounted for over 75% by volume but MFD share was 35% of revenues. Color laser printer sales were approximately 300,000 units with 15 % share , but the color laser printers growth rate was faster at over 30%.


The total install base as of April 1, 2013 for laser printers was more than 9,000,000 units, where color laser printers were approximately11% of all installed at over 950,000 units. Market share for laser toner cartridges and refilling last year (FY13) was listed as HP 60 %, Canon 15%, Samsung 10%, and Xerox 5%.  For the current FY14 Q3, year-to-date sales thus far are flat, with an estimate of 2,000,000 unit sales for full year. 

Total Sales in FY13 for Inkjet printers were approximately 1,200,000, which is -6% in volume and -10% in revenue growth from the previous year. Inkjet revenues were Rs5.00 billion (US$ 90 million). The total Install base for inkjet printers working as of April 1, 2013 was over 6,500,000 inkjet printers/MFD. Entry-level Multi function inkjet printers account for only 45% share by volume, but 60% by revenue. Market share of the major players was HP 60%, Epson 18%, Canon 15%, and Brother 3%. For FY14 Q3, sales growth is estimated at 2% with year-end sales expected at only 1,250,000 units.


Printer Consumables  revenue grew 8% FY Mar 2013 to reached Rs 59 billion (US$ 1.1 billion ). Toner sales are  about 350 tons per month for printers & copiers used for local refilling or remanufacturing, which equates to about 3.5 million cartridges per month.  OEM laser toner cartridges sales are under 2.5 million units pa. OEM toner sales are approx 25 % , Compatibles / refilled /remanufactured 70%  and Counterfeit 5% .Consumables sales to grow  22% CAGR from  Rs 30 billion  ( US$ 660 million ) in 3 years.


Inkjet cartridges  sales was 15.5 million units pa with revenue of Rs  17 billion. OEM inkjet cartridge share  41%, Compatibles  55%, Counterfeits  4%. Inks for refilling  12 million  cartridges  pa  sells approx  40000 litres/month.

India consumables market threats and opportunities 

Major challenges of the India consumables market are the low computer penetration and high import taxes, leading to a negative under-invoicing situation that harms or handicaps the honest players.  In addition to this, there exists prevalent corruption and a general lack of concern for IP issues.  In the end, everything comes down to the low price, and quality can be compromised in exchange for a lower price.  It is a complex market with many complications.


However, opportunity does exist because Indian consumers are largely price sensitive. Most customers look for cheap alternatives to OEMs and the government sector, as one of the largest consumers of toner cartridges, have not yet acknowledged the existing high-quality alternative products that could to serve its large needs. There is also more awareness of remanufactured, recycled or refilled products among consumers.


In sum, the India market has a large potential due to the large market volume and its fast growth. However, to be successful, you must have the right persons to team up with, with the right strategy and enough patience to win the market share in the long term. 



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