Competition to POU (bottleless) Water Coolers A recent report released by Zenith International details the competition facing the Point of Use (POU) water cooler. A POU water cooler is also known as a bottleless water cooler. The report shows that while becoming a product in its own right, "POU units face considerable competition from a range of other purification devices, designed both for residential and commercial use." Other points made in the survey include:
* Point of Entry (POE) is commonplace, treating water at the point of entry to a site. These units are found in both the domestic market and indeed larger facilities such as schools and businesses.
* Under-sink or counter-top units offer a more economical alternative to POE systems in that they treat only the water intended for direct consumption (drinking and cooking) typically at a single tap or a limited number of taps, thus reducing operating costs of the treatment device.
* Filter jugs or ‘pitchers’ are widely used and represent the easiest and cheapest means of improving the quality of tap water. Two filter specialists dominate this sector, Brita and Procter & Gamble.
* Refillable water coolers have also been launched by Brita and Procter & Gamble, comprising free-standing units, which purify, heat and chill water from a three gallon bottle placed on the top of the unit. The bottles are simply hand-filled with tap water by the consumer. The units are significantly cheaper to run, as the consumer can, by refilling the bottle, enjoy an unlimited supply of mains water like a POU unit. This allows the consumer to experience the versatility of a bottled water cooler in that no plumbing is required. Another, variant to this theme is the ‘filtering water bottle’, a refillable bottle designed to fit on the top of an existing traditional water cooler, launched by Procter & Gamble.
* Refrigerator units with an incorporated water filtration and chilling facility are a major competitor to POU in the residential market, in that they incorporate refrigeration and water filtration into one single water cooler. The filtration unit is easily accessible at the base of the fridge and filter changes can be easily carried out by the consumer.
* Bottled water coolers have been the target of the POU industry since mains-fed units were first introduced. However, in the residential market at least, where a significant number of bottled water coolers are said to be placed, POU has had much less success at establishing accounts. In low consumption commercial accounts also, bottled water coolers have remained the unit of choice over a POU unit.
* Water dispensing stations are also said to be popular, offering a cheaper alternative to delivered bottled water.
* Retail packaged water has been enjoying strong growth in recent years, rising 14% in 2005 alone. The 50cl bottled water format is appreciated in particular by consumers who want a convenient source of water while on the move throughout the day.