The global water softener market was valued at USD 2.96 billion in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 5.44 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 7% during the forecast period (2023-2031).
Water softeners are commonly used to convert hard water into soft water. They reduce the magnesium and calcium levels in water by using zeolite and resins as filters. Increased consumption of water across the globe is one of the significant facts expected to surge product demand. Additionally, increased industrial activities are expected to drive market growth. 71% of the earth's surface is covered by water, of which merely 2.5% is freshwater. Thus, water softeners play a significant role in converting saltwater into freshwater and meeting the demand for potable water across the globe.
Use of Water Softeners to Extend the Lifespan of Electronic Appliances Such as Dishwashers & Washing Machines
Increasing disposable income and purchasing power have increased the demand for electronic appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and other equipment that use water. The use of hard water damages such equipment, which reduces life expectancy and increases maintenance cost, and subsequently drives the demand for water softeners at point-of-entry water treatment systems. Water softeners reduce the hardness of water and prevent scale buildup on appliances, which is expected to prolong their shelf life. These systems are more likely to be used in hotels and individual households. Additionally, high demand for washing machines, showers, and other similar devices, owing to the integration of advanced technologies such as IoT and user trackers, are expected to drive the global water softener market. For instance, the total import value of the washing machines in the year 2017 accounted for around USD 14,000 million.
Widespread Use of Water Softeners for Water Refinement by Municipalities and Industries
As per a report released by the United Nations (UN), water consumption has been growing by 1% per year since 1980, which is primarily attributable to population increase, industrialization, and improved infrastructure. As per the current trends of water consumption, due to population growth, the overall rise in water consumption is expected to go up to 20–30% by 2050. Additionally, there has been an increase in pollution due to various human activities. For instance, around 25% of the population uses a contaminated drinking water source. These sources are not treated by municipal wastewater treatment plants or water softener systems, which in turn acts as a growth driver for the global water softener market. Springs, wells, lakes, and others are the primary sources of potable water for smaller residential communities living nearby; however, these sources are often polluted by chemical leaks, oil spills, and discharge of industrial waste. For instance, around 435 million people have consumed water from unprotected wells and springs, and approximately 144 million people have collected untreated surface water from ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, which triggers the installation of water treatment systems. Additionally, there are municipal wastewater plants that have aging infrastructure and cannot be used for the effective treatment of wastewater. Many residential projects such as community row houses and townships lack access to municipal water connection and must fulfill their water demand from an external source such as water tankers. These projects are expected to install water softeners that can purify water and make it fit for consumption.
Rising Construction Projects, Driven by Urbanization
By application, the global water softener market is segmented into residential, commercial, industrial, food processing units, and others. Water softeners are most commonly used in point-of-entry water treatment systems in every household to provide safe and soft water for daily use. Resource scarcity, climate changes, and urbanization are some of the challenges faced by people. According to the World Economic Forum, approximately 200,000 people are migrating to urban areas daily. Residential constructions have increased to meet the growing need of the population, and as water plays an essential role in day-to-day lives, this is projected to supplement the adoption of water softener systems. Point-of-entry water treatment systems are installed in newly constructed buildings to ensure the supply of high-quality water.
High Demand for Water Softener Systems in Infrastructure Development and Tourism
The construction industry is a significant contributor to the U.S. economy; in fact, as per the Institute of Civil Engineering, the growth rate of the construction industry in the U.S. surpasses that of the industry in China. According to Associated Builders & Contractors, a U.S. trade association, construction investment accounted for 6.2% of the U.S. GDP in 2015 and 2016. The growth momentum of the construction industry will provide impetus to the adoption of water softeners as these systems are extensively used in residential and commercial sectors alike. Commercial applications can be further segmented into offices, restaurants, and hotels, among others. Water softener systems are used in many offices, replacing water bottles for maintaining hygiene levels. The flourishing tourism industry has led to the proliferation of hotels around the globe, and the services provided by these hotels constitute a vital aspect of the customer’s purchasing decision. In a bid to offer the best to customers, hotels are adopting water softener systems, among other enhancements on premises.
Evolving industrial and manufacturing processes in North America are bringing in contaminants and chemicals in the water supply. Additionally, around 85% of the U.S. households are located in hard water areas, which burdens the existing facilities used for water handling and treatment. Over 75% of the country’s municipalities have experienced drought in recent years. Water treatment systems such as UV disinfection systems, which help in saving water while purifying, are ideal for use in this economy, which can lead to considerable growth of the water softener market. However, competition from the bottled water industry in the U.S. is expected to threaten the growth of the water softener market in this region to some extent. For instance, the overall bottled water volume rose to 51,860 million liters in 2017, registering 7% growth as compared to 2016.
Over 80% of Europe’s freshwater comes from groundwater and rivers, which are highly vulnerable to pollution, overexploitation, and climate change. Additionally, Europe is experiencing increased water demand due to the rising population and socio-economic activities such as tourism and industrialization, which have reduced the available per capita renewable water sources by 24%. About 75% of the European population is connected to wastewater treatment plants; however, of the total water used in various economic activities in Europe, over 57% of the water containing various impurities is returned to the environment, which further intensifies the need for water purification. Moreover, Europe has been investing in improving its water services, which is expected to offer several opportunities for the global water softener market in this region.
Asia-Pacific has witnessed tremendous growth in the past few decades as a result of growing international trends and tourism activities in some of its leading economies, such as China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. Moreover, numerous multinational corporates are attracted to these countries for running their operations. Despite the strong presence of freshwater sources such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra-Tsangpo, it is highly challenging to meet the demand of 60% of the global population living in the region due to geopolitical tensions between Southeast countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China. According to the Asian Development Bank, around 3,400 million people will live in water-stressed areas of Asia by 2050, which in turn will fuel the demand for water treatment and recycling water for direct distribution to the end-user, which opens up opportunities for the use of systems.
Latin America has access to substantial freshwater sources, owing to a widespread network of four out of 25 major rivers in the world. However, social inequality and pollution have led to the acute scarcity of potable water available to Latin Americans. Unchecked industrial growth, urban poverty, and poor farming practices have led human-induced salination in the rivers, causing desertification in parts of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and others and has led to around 25% of the Latin America to either semi-arid or arid states. This scenario has unlocked opportunities for private players to cater to the population and address the rising concerns over access to drinkable water, which could pave the way for the growth of the water softener market in this region. For instance, local subsidiaries of Suez, Vivendi, and RWE-Thames Water are providing water services to various economies in Latin America.
The Middle East and Africa region is more prone to water crises on account of the lack of water sources and inefficient water distribution system. Manufacturers of water softener systems are expected to focus on providing cost-effective solutions to cater to the demands of the population of this region. However, water scarcity and a substantial presence of economically backward communities are expected to restrict the growth of the regional market.
Some of the prominent players in the global water softener market are
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