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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
System types include:
whole-house, i.e., point-of-entry (POE) water purification
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
US demand for consumer water filtration systems is forecast to rise 3.7% per year to $955 million in 2024. Growth will be supported by:
increased consumer awareness of potential drinking water contaminants
expanding capabilities of available water filtration systems, including systems that remove more contaminants
growth in new housing construction and existing home sales, as whole-house systems and some higher value POU systems (such as under-the-sink types) are often installed during construction or after a purchase
Stay-At-Home Orders Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Spur Nearly 9% Growth in 2020
Sales of water filtration systems rose 8.8% in 2020, spurred by consumers spending more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to them drinking their own tap water more frequently and therefore investing in their water quality. While this trend spurred growth for all consumer water treatment system technologies, water filtration systems – which are found in systems ranging from POU flow-through units to whole-house systems – benefited from their dominant market position. Low-cost POU systems saw especially rapid gains, as they are accessible to first-time users of water treatment. However, POE system sales also fared well as housing completions and existing home sales ended the year better than expected. Through 2021, it is expected that demand for POU systems will remain elevated and POE systems will continue to show gains.
Product Development Is Boosting Recurring Sales of Replacement Water Filters
A number of product developments are helping consumer water filtration suppliers boost recurring revenues through the sale of more or higher value replacement filters, including:
development of higher value filters that remove more contaminants
multistage systems that feature more filters that must be replaced regularly
electronic indicators that notify users when to replace/refill filters
Strong anticipated sales growth in such POU systems as flow-through, faucet-mounted, and water bottles will support replacement filter demand, as filters in these units tend to have shorter lifespans. Demand will also be supported by the introduction of filters that last longer and can remove more contaminants – qualities that increase their price point and aid in value gains. However, the longer lifespans of these filters limit the frequency of replacement purchases, hindering faster growth in unit sales.
Conventional Filtration Faces Increasing Competition from Higher Value Alternatives
Filtration products dominate the consumer water treatment system market, but they are generally considered to be more entry-level products. Existing equipment owners may look to upgrade and replace older filtration systems with new water treatment products that are more efficient or that offer a more comprehensive set of treatment technologies. As a greater segment of the population becomes familiar with water treatment options, more consumers are turning to higher value, more advanced systems such as reverse osmosis (RO), other membrane technologies, and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Although from a lower base, these high-end technologies will continue to gain share of the water treatment market from conventional filtration products through 2024.