ICA Unites Room Air Conditioner (RAC) Manufacturers to Seek Product Differentiation with Cu Inside Campaign

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In China, room air-conditioner (RAC) producers are using copper to set themselves apart. Cu Inside, an ICA marketing initiative that applies labels to RACs containing copper, has gained traction in the Chinese market. Consumer demand for high-quality and multi-functional products, as well as government-mandated energy-efficiency labeling standards, must be considered in product design. To meet these requirements, RAC manufacturers are recognizing copper as a differentiating factor in their product development and marketing. As the best nonprecious conductor of electricity, copper provides reliability and energy efficiency. Due to its ability to be recycled without any loss of properties, copper is also a sustainable material. The Cu Inside marketing campaign helps consumers recognize RACs that use copper. The campaign has steadily grown since its inception in 2016, and now includes multiple giants of the Chinese home appliance market, including household names like Midea Group and Haier.

The first to join the program in 2016, Midea Group, a well-known Chinese home appliance provider, branded more than 100 of its namesake RAC models with ICA’s Cu Inside labels. Recognizing the value of the Cu Inside brand, Midea added all of its branded RAC models to the program in 2020. All three remaining brands under the Midea Group umbrella—Hualing, COLMO and Little Swan—followed suit this year. As of 2021, the Group’s Cu Inside branded RAC models grew by more than 80 percent to a total of 638 models.

Launched on 2 July 2020 at Gome Beijing stores, a premiere appliance center in the Chinese capital, a month-long Cu Inside RAC promotion also saw Cu Inside-labeled products heavily marketed for the first time, including prominent displays and promotions. Additional efforts from manufactures led to more than $50,000 in co-funding. 

This growth has bumped the market share of Cu Inside co-branded RACs from 34 percent to 39 percent in China, which was bolstered in part by the new addition of fellow industry giant Haier in late 2020.

A unique marketing initiative, the Cu Inside brand is especially effective in the home appliance sector, where materials may not be outwardly visible. A Cu Inside label not only provides manufacturers with immediate differentiation from the competition, but it also provides consumers an added sense of quality and performance assurance due to copper’s natural properties.

The participation of well-known brands is poised to help improve the visibility of Cu Inside and expand the breadth of its market coverage. Currently, more than 20 renowned appliance manufacturers in China have partnered with ICA to employ the Cu Inside brand.

The success of the campaign was preceded by a similar development in India for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. ICA India’s development and deployment of the Cu Inside brand led to more than 450 RAC models boasting the Cu Inside brand in 2020, up from 250 in 2018. The estimated share of copper in the RAC market also increased by 30 percent during this period.

The growing success of the Cu Inside campaign demonstrates copper’s importance to the home appliance industry. ICA will continue to support product manufacturers who wish to promote copper’s natural resiliency, efficiency and sustainability through the Cu Inside brand.

01 December 2021

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