May 12, 2003
Volume 13 Number 8

Sales Driven by Awareness, Aesthetics

Manufactures of shower filters say sales are rising along with consumer awareness of the category.

Sprite Industries, for example, is posting annual sales increases of 20%. President David Farley says the trend will continue as consumers spend more time creating a healthier home environment. “Since the average home has one kitchen and 2.1 bathrooms, the market potential for shower filtration is twice that of overall water filtration,” he points out.

Linda Halfmann, consumer marketing manager for Culligan, notes that shower filters can help address several water-quality concerns, such as pollution, higher levels of sediment and minerals from private wells, and the impact of chlorine on skin and hair.

Kristin Mangan, retail product manager at Sta-Rite Industries, notes that fashion also impacts the business. “We’ve seen more high-end styles – such as silver, chrome nickel, and brushed pewter finishes – particularly with products that replace the shower faucet,” she explains.

Filtration Agents Scour Contaminants Away

Farley says that when chlorine vaporizes in the shower, it is “inhaled into the lungs and passed directly into the blood stream.” Sprite publishes a brochure called “Chlorine and Your Shower,” which cites news articles and scientific studies that claim chlorine is a contributing cause of soft-tissue cancers, heart disease, and allergic reactions.

Kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) and Chlorgon are filtration agents used to remove chlorine, heavy metals, hydrogen sulfide, and bacteria from shower water. According to Mangan, “KDF is a high-purity zinc/copper alloy whose potential for containment reduction actually increases with temperature,” making it better suited to hot water applications than carbon.

Sprite products use KDF and Chlorgon. Farley describes Chlorgon as a mineral that sparks a chemical reaction that binds free chlorine and some types of combined chlorine, including sodium hypochlorite, to harmless salts.

Cartridge Life, New Styles Key to Growth

The life of shower filter cartridges varies from a few months to one year.

For example, Sprite’s Hose Filter and its filtered shower handles have cartridge life ratings of three months. Cartridges for Slim-Line filter and All-In-One filtered showerheads last six months, while the High-Output shower filter has a cartridge life rating of one year.

Mangan says “Sta-Rite’s OMNI-Filter SF 100 model has an average cartridge life of one year, or 30,000 gallons. Meanwhile, Culligan’s SR-115 shower filter has a life of up to 5,000 gallons.

Halfmann notes that Culligan’s filters are designed “to adapt to any standard threaded shower head and do not shorten the height of the shower head.”

Homeowners are demanding shower fixtures that complement the finishes of their bath faucets and fixtures. In response, Sprite-which already offered a polished chrome unit-has added a polished brass Slim-Line shower filter. It also introduced the EuroCurve shower handle, which incorporates an ergonomic design with an in-handle filter.

Cross Merchandising Opportunities Abound

The most logical place to merchandise shower filters is in the plumbing aisle with other filtration items. The shower faucet section in home centers presents a prime opportunity for cross-merchandising, Mangan notes.

Farley adds that shower filters can be displayed with water filtration systems and de-chlorinated bath salts.

Meanwhile, Halfmann notes that some retailers are merchandising shower filters with other shower accessories in the housewares area. She believes growth will come from increased cross-promotion at outlets that sell shower fixtures and water filtration products.