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Cracking the Home Watercooler Market
Cracking the Home Watercooler Market
In Europe the watercooler industry is currently dominated by commercial accounts (offices and factories) – in fact they made up approximately 98.5% of the total unit placements in 2005 - this leaves the percentage of domestic units at just 1.5%. By comparison, in the USA domestic accounts represent a massive 50% of the watercooler market. These sorts of comparisons have lead many to believe that there is still room to expand into the home watercooler market in Europe, particularly in the strongest markets such as the UK and France. There have been a number of attempts made to crack to home watercooler market in the past – these products have ranged from kitchen top units to free standing units, to coolers built into other appliances such as fridges and freezers.

Source: Zenith 2006
There are however, a number of obstacles in this market which present problems which need to be overcome if it is to be truly cracked – and there are a number of differences that need to be recognised between the European and American home watercooler market. When the 'cooler boom' took place in the USA in the 70s and 80s, it was before the introduction of home water filters, retail packaged water and whilst water filtration systems were limited. This meant that alternatives to home watercoolers were very limited, and subsequently the home watercooler market flourished. The modern European market is not afforded these sorts of luxuries however – with a number of competitors options available, with many of these already adopted by a large number of households – for example over 6 million UK homes (24% of the UK population) own a water filter. In addition, unlike in the USA, the general quality of tap water in the UK is very high - and one of the cleanest available anywhere in the world. This means that the opportunity for a massive growth comparable to the USA in the home watercooler market is reduced.

However, filtered water is an attractive proposition to many customers as it represents a massive potential financial saving (approximately 1/10th of the price) when compared to the purchase of bottled water. In addition, filtered water is also more convenient to access as there are no bottles to purchase and transport home from the supermarket, as well as the beneficial environmental impact than purchasing less plastic bottles of water has. The possibility of expansion into this market therefore does still unquestionably exist – with the right product offering and the right message, there could yet be a demand for a home watercooler in the European market. Recent entries into the market includes Ebac's SlimCool™ Home Filtered Watercooler which holds 7 litres of tap water that is filtered using a BRITA Maxtra cartridge and then chilled.

Watercoolers offer a number of distinct advantages for the home user – firstly, space is saved as there is no longer a requirement to hold filtered water jugs or bottles of water in the fridge. Secondly, Watercoolers are more convenient than water filters as they are easier to access and have an increased capacity and therefore need to be refilled less frequently. There is also the advantage of having a selection of temperatures available and the health benefits of having water in a more prominent place where it is more likely to be drunk on a regular basis.

Whilst competitors offerings such as home water filters do offer an alternative, home watercoolers which combine the advantages of a water filter with those of a watercooler could mean that this potentially lucrative market could yet be cracked.

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