Airpocalypse China: High End Air Purifiers

by Avy Guttman

China Prior to the "Airpocalypse" : What's an Air Purifier?

When China bid for the 2008 Olympic games back in 2001, the Chinese government promised respectable air quality levels. There were, for example, traffic restrictions put in place which continue today, and it seemed like the country was headed in the right direction. Beijing has actually fared better than most cities by substituting coal with cleaner alternatives, and by 2012, the city cut its coal consumption by 700,000 tonnes.

During the Olympics, Beijing’s air quality was consistently up to standard, reaching Class I on 50% of the days within that period. At that point, this was the best it had been for over 10 years.

china airpocalypse pollution

 

Airpocalypse : China's Brave New Word

The year 2013 has become a certain turning point. A literal cloud brewing over China for quite some time: thick rolling, foul smelling smog, enveloping most of the country and raising pollution levels to all time highs. This year branded awareness of the growing concern regarding China’s air crisis, affecting those living in central and eastern China.  

Amid the chaos, new terminologies and tales, telling videos, and pictures emerged and continue their buzz, recirculating the mouths and ears of many people across the planet. Words like “airpocolypse” arise as a somewhat cynical and half clever way to describe the current tumult.

This was apparently the state of affairs in China from 2013 onward. For instance, that same year, the Chinese language had also acquired the word: “meter-busting”. Levels of pollutant PM2.5 reached a breaking point where monitoring equipment could no longer cope.

The beautiful and mystical city of Beijing, its rich history and wondrous architecture, spanning back more than three thousand years, reached pollution levels so dreadfully high in 2013, that it caused large shifts of people to emigrate from the great city and for many more, it became grounds to go out and purchase air purifiers.

This very increase in public awareness on a grand scale was brought on after this invisible divide dubbed amply as the airpocalypse, while ripples were caused by Chinese leaders and the mass influx of reporting shared by many media outlets. A high point arose in January 2015, when Wang Anshun, Beijing’s mayor was quoted as describing Beijing as “not a liveable city”

Amazingly enough, domestic air purifiers were relatively scarce -an item almost unheard of and unimportant in China prior to 2013. Post “airpocalypse” attitudes are much more in line with making the investment for cleaner indoor air quality. The psychology perhaps being that if a family or individual can make any prompt improvement, it would start at home where people can control and clean the air they breathe within the domicile they inhabit.

china air pollution problem

Post Airpocalyptic Attitudes 

At the point in time, aptly dubbed the airpocalypse, the market was duly flooded with low-quality air purifiers.  

The China air purification industry, comprised of both domestic and office products, shot up in value in 2013 to 3.5 billion yuan that year ($538,672,890 USD). In 2014 the number of air purifier brands operating in China took a giant leap from 151 to a staggering 556.

From 2014 to 2015 the overall market dropped in value by 15%-20% and in sales volume by just under 10%. According to market research company China Market Monitor, the number of air purifier units sold in China dropped 18% in the first half of 2015 following 5.1 million unit sales in 2014. One of the main causes for a drop in sales can be attributed to the average Air Quality Index (AQI) reading falling to 156 in the first quarter of 2015, compared with 208 in the first quarter of 2013.

 

Rise of high-end Air Purifiers

However, amid the slight downturn, high-end air purifier companies posted record sales figures in China, and this trend towards higher-tech products could be set to continue as the Chinese air purification industry’s first national standards were introduced in March, outlining minimum clean air delivery rates (CADR) for purification products. Some analysts predict that the move will sweep away the flood of low-quality, low-cost purifiers.




Avy Guttman
Avy Guttman

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