A recent survey conducted by Zenith International indicates the U.S. market for free-standing POU (point of use) water cooler machines increased more than 12 percent during the first half of 2006. The total number of bottleless water coolers in the U.S. now stands at 500,000, according to the survey.
A POU water cooler is also known as a bottleless water cooler.
Additional information from the survey includes:
* 1.7 POU units per thousand people were in place in 2006, compared with 16.6 bottled water cooler units per thousand people.
* POU claimed a 9.1 percent share of the total (POU and bottled water) cooler market in 2006.
* The bulk of the U.S. POU market is to be found on the East and West coasts and in the southern states, in a horseshoe-shaped formation. In contrast, northern and central areas are less developed.
* The majority of units are placed under rental contacts, more than 80 percent in total; purchased units take the remainder.
* Total U.S. POU rental and sales income reached US $156.5 million in the twelve months to the middle of 2006, with 96 percent coming from rental income and income from sales accounts for the remainder.
* Commercial accounts represent by far the majority. Given the wide array of competing products for water provision in the home - such as bottled water, under-sink water purification systems and water jug filters - residential demand for POU units is limited. A mere 2 percent of all POU cooler units are installed in domestic accounts.
* POU units offering hot and cold water are the most popular, representing around 60 percent of all units; cold/ambient units take the remainder.
* Filtration units represent the lion’s share in unit type terms, with more than 60 percent of the total; reverse osmosis units take the remaining 40 percent. Reverse osmosis units are found predominantly in southern, arid regions where tap water quality is considered to be more of an issue.
* Conversion rates from bottled water coolers to POU units are reportedly as high as 90 percent in some cases, although the industry average is thought to be around 75 percent, with wholly new accounts taking the remaining 25 percent.
* By 2009, the POU market is expected to have reached 740,000 units in total, taking a 13 percent share of the total (POU and bottled water) cooler market.
Zenith notes that in its report, the term 'point of use' represents a free-standing unit which is not integrated into any other furniture or mounting. The unit may be either floor-standing or counter-top.
Zenith excludes from this definition units which may include POU purification technology but are installed within a cupboard, termed under-the-counter or under-sink units and generally feature a pipe connection from the unit to a separate tap which is generally located over a sink, alongside the standard mains water tap.