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What’s the secret to Blueair’s exponential growth?


Authored by Mehmet Altinok

Since we acquired Blueair a year ago, its growth results are already exceeding our expectations. We spoke to Mehmet Altinok – who has been with Unilever for 28 years and is now at the helm of Blueair – to discover the secret of its success.

Blueair purifier next to a tennis ball on a table surface

About the author

headshot of Mehmet Altinok smiling

Mehmet Altinok

Since starting his career in 1989 with Unilever Turkey as a Product Manager,
Mehmet has worked in a variety of roles including marketing, customer
development and operations, across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and China.

Firstly, what is Blueair?

The air quality outdoor varies and depends on things such as emissions from industries and traffic exhaust. But indoor air can be many times more polluted than the air outside. Blueair makes indoor air purifiers that are designed to enhance user health and wellbeing by removing airborne allergens, asthma triggers, viruses, bacteria and other pollutants in home, work and leisure environments.

What’s behind the company’s phenomenal growth?

Most importantly, the business taps into a growing health-conscious consumer trend. In fact, in the last year alone, we have launched three exciting innovations.

The first is Joy, a fun, colourful air purifier aimed at a younger audience. Joy is compact and very easy to use with its intuitive single control button, and makes less noise than human breathing. It has been on the market since October in China and is known as Blue by Blueair in the rest of the world.

Secondly, we have just launched FaceOneGo in China. This is a facemask that protects people from air pollution outside the home, particularly aimed at commuters. It is a high-performing mask, designed specifically for Asian faces. As part of the launch in India, we provided FaceOneGo masks to traffic police in New Delhi.

Also, we created Air View, an education and awareness-raising tool that lets people see what’s in the air they breathe. This award-winning web service allows you to visualise the air pollutants in your street in real time.

We introduced Air View into Europe and the US earlier this year. We’re rolling out to China and India now – the peak season for air pollution.

How does being part of Unilever help the company?

Blueair is a start-up driven by innovation. The great thing about being part of Unilever is that we have been able to preserve that entrepreneurial spirit, while using Unilever’s reach, scope and expertise to scale up and grow the company even faster.

We can develop a new product in about a year. That’s pretty quick for this type of technology. Two things deliver this speed. Decision-making is very fast. When we come together as a leadership team, we can decide and just go with an idea. We also benefit greatly from the wider ecosystem. We draw on the skills and capabilities of suppliers and other start-ups, rather than inventing everything in-house. It’s how we bring those components together that results in a premium product.

We operate in over 60 countries and are a leading player in the premium air purifiers market in China, the US, Japan, South Korea and India. Demand for our products has grown rapidly in recent years, as consumers become more aware of the health risks posed by poor air quality. The global air purifier market is projected to be worth around €18 billion by 2020.

How do the markets for Blueair and Unilever products differ?

They are very different. Consumers buy a new bottle of shampoo, say, once a month. For durables, it’s a purchase made maybe once every five years. So every year, we have to find new consumers.

The FMCG market is competitive. Durables is even more so. In China, for example, there are 400 air purifiers sold online. We are competing with all these different players who are also innovating very fast every year. There’s also a service element. Our job doesn’t finish when we sell a product. We continue the relationship through servicing, which helps build brand and consumer loyalty.

How do Blueair products fit with our Sustainable Living Plan?

It’s a natural fit. Blueair’s purpose is to improve the health and wellbeing of people everywhere. We do so by creating innovative, best-in-class, energy-efficient products, as well as working with academia, civil society and governments to raise awareness of the importance of clean air to human health, especially the most vulnerable. As a purpose-driven brand, we know Blueair will continue to grow fast. We’re only at the start of a very exciting journey – I believe the best is yet to come.

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