The customer as ‘follow-up treatment actor’

Drinking water customers seem increasingly open to the idea of home filtration and rainwater applications in their own households. This project sheds light on the number and the kinds of customers concerned, what they expect from the drinking water utilities in this area, and – more importantly – what the motivations and mechanisms are that underlie their willingness to become ‘follow-up treatment actors’.

Growing interest in home filtration and rainwater applications

More and more Dutch and Flemish drinking water customers seem to be stepping away from the traditional model, in which they take their drinking water directly from the drinking water distribution network. Two developments play a key role in this regard. First, filters are becoming increasingly popular. These can be installed at the water tap-point [Point-of-Use (PoU) device], or on the pipe that enters the home [Point-of-Entry (PoE) device].  Secondly, rainwater and water-reuse applications within the customer’s own home are gaining in popularity.

There reasons for these trends are apparently quite varied. The interest in house filters seems to be strongly associated with (embedded) advertisements that urge customers to treat their drinking water themselves – for softening purposes, for instance – or even that promise to remove heavy metals, such as lead, from the water, or to filter it for chlorine or pharmaceutical residues. The line between enticement and deception is not always clear in these cases, nor are the reasons why customers purchase such devices, even though their drinking water is of high quality. Follow-up treatment is completely unnecessary. In addition, we see an increasing interest in rainwater applications, and thus also in the associated water reuse, which is partly inspired by laws and regulations. This trend is particularly evident in Flanders, but households in the Netherlands also seem to be more and more interested.

Project objective

  • gain a better understanding of the number and the kinds of customers who purchase (or want to purchase) a PoU and PoE device, and/or rainwater and reuse applications;
  • identify the associated underlying motivations and mechanisms;
  • compile a list of what customers expect from the drinking water utilities in this area.

Customer research in the Netherlands and Flanders

Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, we aim to create a picture of why and how customers purchase (or want to purchase) and use a PoU and PoE device and rainwater applications. To begin with, a large-scale online survey will be conducted in both the Netherlands and Flanders. This will be followed by telephone interviews with a portion of the respondents, which will focus qualitatively on their motivations.


The research will yield the following:

  • systematic insight into the motivations and perceptions with regard to rainwater and reuse applications, and the purchase and use of PoU and PoE devices in the Netherlands and Flanders, broken down by drinking water customer perspective;
  • empirical knowledge about how many and what type of customers are open to PoU and PoE devices, and rainwater and reuse applications;
  • exploration of what these applications mean from the point of view of water quality.