The pandemic has brought in a significant shift in the way consumers act, think and behave. While some trends such as an increasing reliance on online shopping have been accelerated, some trends such as a preference for DIY, have been transient. However, there is no question that the consumer landscape has changed and like any sector, innovation is the only way forward for the water-tech industry.
Increased Awareness of Health & Hygiene
There is no question that the pandemic made us evaluate our priorities and placed health and wellbeing on top. Consumers place higher importance on the quality of their life- including diet, stress, nutrition, and the quality of water they use.
Increased Environmental Awareness
The pandemic has brought into focus the sheer fragility of our environment. More consumers now are interested in brands that are sustainable, interested in products that don’t use toxic chemicals, and support brands that help the environment. For our industry, that means increased support for water-conserving technologies, water reuse, and recycling products.
Higher Involvement in Home Purchases
As consumers spent time at home during the lockdown, there was increased recognition of the water-related issues at homes such as the wasted water in RO, the leaks in the system, and the poor quality of water they were using. This, combined with an increase in disposable income led to an increase in health/ wellness-related purchases in the home.
A change in trends is always followed by a rapid spurt of innovation across sectors and the water tech sector is no exception. While some of the innovations were available pre-covid, they have seen an increase in adoption in the new landscape.
AI in Water Tech/ Water Treatment
A 2019 PwC report titled 'Artificial Intelligence and the Fate of Planet Earth' identifies water as one of the 4 key industries where AI can generate $5.2 trillion. It is no surprise that a lot of companies have adopted AI in their race to the future. Some of the notable use-cases are
- Using AI to increase the efficiency of waste management systems
- Using AI to identify unknown contaminants in the water
- Using AI to reduce operational costs- by identifying failures earlier.
Improving Water Quality
When water availability becomes a problem, the water quality gets compromised, as people are forced to use any available water. Systems to improve water qualities can be point-of-use systems- such as Shower Filters/tap filters or Point of entry systems - Filters for the whole house or filtration systems for entire apartment complexes. Urban migration and strain on water resources threaten to worsen the water quality we use for bathing, washing, and other purposes. Filtered water has been the norm for drinking, but in the future, a Shower Filter or a Kitchen Tap filter will be as ubiquitous as a drinking water filter in every home.
Smart meters can identify water wastage by identifying leaks and pipe bursts in apartments making systems more efficient. Water-saving nozzles, showerheads, taps will see an increase in adoption, as water becomes more expensive. Water-saving systems ease the pressure on the available water resources and help in maintaining water availability across the country.
As I look back on these two years, I am amazed at how far we have come in dealing with the COVID crisis. This crisis has brought out the best in terms of quick innovation which helped mitigate the impact of the virus. The water crisis looms large and I have full faith and confidence that innovation will help us overcome this, and leave us with a better understanding and appreciation of the earth and our role in saving the planet.
- This article is penned by Pavithra Rao, Co-Founder, VP - Growth and Revenue, WaterScience.