According to Zenith Global, the value of the UK’s water cooler market reached £140 million in 2018 and is set to continue to grow by around 2% a year.
Last summer’s hot weather, wellness trends seeing consumers tracking hydration levels and sustainability awareness are just a few factors contributing to this rise.
From major technological developments to convenience innovation to sustainable choices, this past year has seen a whole host of advancements in the industry. But what are the top 3 water cooler industry trends of 2019 so far?
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that climate change is proliferated by the use of single-use plastics. The Center for International Environmental Law claims that by 2050, CO2 emissions from plastic could grow to more than 2.75 billion tonnes.
Cooler companies recognise the sustainability benefits of water coolers over single-use water bottles. Particularly coolers that either use mains water or containers that can be reused again and again before ultimately being recycled.
In the past year, the water industry has also seen a rise in plastic cup alternatives. Last February, Eden Springs launched a range of eco-friendly cups and then went on to introduce a cup that is not only biodegradable, but also reusable.
Packaging supplier RPC Group has launched a new vending cup recycling initiative, enabling vending suppliers and operators to deliver used cups to their facility to be recycled.
Ultimately, we are now seeing a clear shift in behaviour from the water industry as they cater to the more environmentally aware consumer by offering more sustainable choices.
Water cooler systems have come a long way from simple 15L plastic bottle-fed systems. Gemma Tuxford, director at Zerica, states “people don’t just want chilled water, they want sparkling water, they want hot water, they want juice, tea and coffee – and by the way, they want the technology to manage it efficiently”.
Increased choice and personalisation are two consumer trends that have driven technological advancements in the water cooler industry. Last year, The Coca-Cola Company launched a Freestyle drinks dispenser, which includes nearly 200 beverage options and Bluetooth technology.
Personalisation can also be seen in the rise of app-controlled devices, that allow individual users to do things such as track their hydration levels.
PepsiCo unveiled a new hydration platform in April 2019 that allows users to track their water intake, set their own daily hydration goals, and keep reference of the environmental savings achieved compared with single-use plastic bottles. Consumers being able to create and save their preferred drinks to the mobile app shows one way that companies such as PepsiCo are using technology to take personalisation and choice to new levels.
This last trend links to personalisation, sustainability and technological advancements as more companies are beginning to launch new sustainably designed at-home water dispensers that can be connected to smartphone apps.
In April this year, Evian unveiled the Evian (re)new, a water dispenser which features a 5-litre ‘bubble’ made from 100% recycled plastic (rPET), an innovation as part of Evian’s 2025 sustainability programme. The dispenser is connected to an app that can notify the user when it needs to be refilled and tracks how much water is being consumed.
Consumer desire for convenience has also been a major driver of this trend as smaller portable designs allow for users to have clean, sustainable, personalised water from the comfort of their own homes.
In a world where environmentally conscious consumers and health-conscious consumers, concerned with maintaining hydration levels, are both on the rise; the water cooler industry has stepped up its game with bold new innovations and technological developments.
Personalisation, choice and convenience are all major catalysts for change in the industry, and it will be interesting to see how companies respond further as consumers seek convenient devices catered to their own needs.
The June/July 2019 edition of Refreshment magazine has a primary theme of mains-fed cooler systems (POU) and the August/September issue will discuss coolers for health and recreation. Don’t miss out; be sure to subscribe to Refreshment magazine today.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019