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Roborock’s rare success on home turf of Samsung, LG

Korean rivals up ante to renew competition in burgeoning robot cleaner market

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : May 12, 2024 - 14:17

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Roborock's S8 MaxV Ultra (Roborock) Roborock's S8 MaxV Ultra (Roborock)

China’s Roborock, the popular robot vacuum cleaner brand, has become a rare success story on the home turf of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Despite the dominance of the two Korean firms in the nation’s home appliance market, when it comes to the burgeoning robot cleaner market, the Chinese runner-up has maintained its top position over the past four years.

Last month, Roborock released its latest flagship model, the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra, which is capable of both vacuuming and mopping, in Korea. Chinese brands used to boast cheaper pricing but the latest Roborock machine, priced at 1.84 million won ($1,350), competes head-on with high-priced Korean rivals.

Upon its launch on a home shopping channel, the new Roborock cleaner sold some 4,600 units in just one hour. The cumulative order amounted to over 7 billion won during the live show alone.

Roborock established its Korean unit in November 2020 and started its full-fled marketing activities here. Now Roborock makes up almost 80 percent of premium robot vacuum cleaners with price tags over 1.5 million won. Last year, the company posted an estimated 200 billion won in sales.

“We believe that our strengths include the industry’s first introduction of an ultrasonic vibration mopping system, stable self-developed software and superior quality after-sales service compared to other global brands,” a Roborock official said.

For industry insiders and local customers, however, the biggest advantage of its all-in-one product was the functions that do not involve additional human work, whereas the cleaners handle mop cleaning automatically and draining directly.

Following the Chinese home appliance maker’s immense popularity here, Samsung also released its first all-in-one robot vacuum cleaner, Bespoke AI Steam, last month.

It can inhale dust, clean a wet mop, and automatically clean and sterilize steam. It is priced at 1.79 million won and sold 10,000 units 25 days after its launch, according to Samsung officials.

According to Danawa Research, a Korean online shopping market research agency, Roborock ranked first in the domestic robot vacuum cleaner market in 2023 with a share of 20.1 percent, followed by LG Electronics and Xiaomi with 17.7 percent each. Samsung Electronics’ market share came to 15.9 percent.

“Domestic companies had also recognized the importance of mops and began developing them as well, but failed to release new products as quickly as its Chinese rival. Although Chinese companies are usually weak at keeping up in already established markets, they appear to be more competitive in newly pioneering sectors such as electric vehicles and robot vacuum cleaners,” an industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Meanwhile, LG is said to be working on its first all-in-one robot vacuum cleaner with plans to debut the machine as early as in the first half of this year. Specific details such as price range remain undisclosed, but the product will have strength in terms of hygiene, an LG official hinted.