Consumer Water Filtration

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This study covers the United States consumer market for water filtration systems primarily designed to decrease the amount of contaminants and minerals in households’ water. Systems purchased by consumers for personal use outside of the home (e.g., during leisure activities, pleasure, work, or school) are also considered, as are consumables, such as replacement filters and membranes.

System demand numbers included in this study represent conventional filtration water treatment systems. Systems that incorporate higher-level treatment, such as reverse osmosis systems, are excluded. However, replacement filter demand includes filters sold to all system types. Replacement filter demand includes filters sold for conventional filtration systems as well as for systems with higher levels of treatment, such as those with membrane filtration.

Refrigerator water filters and pitchers are excluded because these systems are originally sold to equipment manufacturers and only the replacement units are sold to consumers.

Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts to 2024 and 2029 are provided for consumer water filtration systems demand both in units and in current dollars (which are not adjusted to account for inflation).

Key breakouts for consumer water filtration systems include filtration type, system type, and region.

Filtration types include:

  • activated carbon filters
  • mechanical filters

System types include:

  • whole-house, i.e., point-of-entry (POE) water purification
  • point-of-use (POU):
    • under-the-sink
    • countertop
    • faucet-mounted
    • flow-through
    • other POU systems (e.g., atmospheric, shower and bath filters, water bottles, filter straws)

The main designation for filtration systems is the point at which treatment occurs, entry or use. Point-of-entry treatment is defined as treatment at the location where water enters the household for the first time, prior to being dispersed to the home’s faucets. Point-of-use treatment is defined as treatment at the point where water will be consumed or used for other purposes.

Consumables, including replacement water filters, are also included in this study.

Demand for consumer water treatment systems is also segmented by the following US geographic regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

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Unit & Pricing Trends

Demand for consumer water treatment systems using conventional filtration technology is expected to grow 2.8% per year to 17.0 million units in 2024. Sales will be driven by the widespread use of this technology, which can be found in nearly all types of water treatment products. Water filters are well known to consumers and generally trusted, which will allow filtration to maintain its dominant market position going forward.

Other factors boosting rising filtration system sales include:

  • low cost compared to other technologies
  • ability to help with aesthetic issues like poor odor and taste
  • being essentially the only technology used in flow-through and faucet-mounted product types, the most used products in the market

The average price for conventional filtration is expected to grow 1.0% per year through 2024, reaching $56 per unit. Further gains will be limited by the highly competitive nature of consumer water treatment systems that use conventional technology. Moreover, the high level of competition in flow-through and faucet-mounted products, which almost exclusively use conventional filtration, caused some pricing declines in the historical period. However, looking forward, pricing for flow-through and faucet-mounted products will benefit from the inclusion of higher value filters and other product innovations.

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Demand by Type

Product types include activated carbon and mechanical filtration. For the purposes of this study, products that include both are associated with activated carbon as that is typically the higher level of treatment.

Demand for consumer water treatment systems using conventional filtration technology is expected to grow 3.7% annually through 2024 to $955 million. The majority of gains – 94% through 2024 – will result from the dominant activated carbon product type. Activated carbon filters are used in systems at every level, including popular faucet-mounted and flow-through water treatment systems.

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Demand by System (Whole-House or Point-of-Use)

Demand for consumer water treatment systems using conventional filtration technology is expected to grow 3.7% annually through 2024 to $955 million. Conventional filtration is used in all product types due to its lower cost and effective performance. Gains will be supported by solid growth for faucet-mounted and flow-through systems, as these products continue to see adoption due to their lower cost and entry-level product status compared to other consumer water treatment systems.

Point-of-entry consumer water treatment systems are also expected to grow at a healthy pace through 2024. Due to the high volume of water that usually will flow through a whole-house system, conventional filtration is typically more conducive to treatment than membrane systems like reverse osmosis.

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Competitive Products

Water treatment systems compete primarily on cost and performance:

  • Water treatment technologies vary considerably in terms of the level of contaminants removed and this correlates to system cost and where the technologies are used.
  • Conventional filtration is generally the lowest priced product category and because of this sees the broadest use, found in nearly all types of water treatment systems.
  • Products that compete with conventional filtration include membrane systems and other water treatment systems, as well as bottled water.

While filtration products dominate the US water treatment system market – with 88% of unit sales and 54% of market value in 2019 – existing equipment owners will upgrade and replace older systems with new products that are more efficient or that offer a more comprehensive set of treatment technologies. For instance, more consumers are turning to higher value, more advanced systems, such as:

  • reverse osmosis (RO) or other membrane technologies, which, when coupled with other water treatment technologies, essentially provides the highest level of water treatment available on the market today
  • ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, adoption of which is growing among consumers who want to treat their water without the potentially harmful effects of disinfection byproducts
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