By Jaime Blair

Americans love their swimming pools. In fact, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals estimates that there are 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the United States alone. Even so, the pool industry is having a hard time bouncing back from the recent recession, and the future is hard to predict.

According to Atlanta research firm Pkdata, 2.1 million (nearly 40 percent) of all inground pools today were built between 1991 and 2005. Then growth came to a screeching halt with the Great Recession in 2006. New home construction and pool installation are closely correlated, and when housing starts declined 74%, pool construction declined almost 70%. While the housing market has rebounded, pool construction has been slow to catch up—only increasing 13% over the past six years.

In an essay featured in Aqua Magazine, Bill Kennedy, president of Pkdata, draws on a recent survey of prospective pool buyers to estimate the market demand for new swimming pool construction.

According to Kennedy’s figures, there are approximately 25 million households in the US that meet the criteria for a new pool purchase. Of those households, 750,000–3.4 million show a “a relatively high interest in pool ownership.” These numbers are encouraging and offer the industry increased incentive to ramp up marketing efforts to reach the untapped potential buyers.

Even with extensive market analysis, it’s difficult to say how many of the qualified homeowners will actually install a swimming pool, so let’s take a look at the market drivers and challenges buyers face when deciding to take the plunge.

Market Drivers

  • Focus on healthier lifestyles—It’s a given that everyone can benefit from a healthier lifestyle, and having access to a swimming pool at home is an excellent resource that can be used on your own schedule with the convenience of not having to go to the gym. From high-intensity interval training to restorative physical therapy, a home pool can benefit every family member’s health regardless of strength or activity level. Studies have shown that regular water exercise is highly beneficial for increasing ability in the elderly, who may have limited mobility that makes land-based exercise difficult. It’s no surprise that states with large retirement communities such as Florida, Arizona, and California are in the top five states for both installed inground swimming pools and new units.
  • Family fun and safety—Summer days are long and hot, and kids need to be entertained. Having a swimming pool at home provides kids with fresh air, exercise, and social interaction—a fun and healthy alternative to being glued to the television or video games. With a home pool, you control the cleanliness and safety of the environment, unlike community pools or waterparks.
  • Aesthetics—Inground swimming pools can dramatically elevate the appearance of a home’s property; even the most basic pool can add an element of beauty and tranquility to the atmosphere. Many custom pool designers are taking pools to the next level and creating luxurious works of art. Cascading waterfalls, intricate glass tiles, brilliant multicolored lighting, and infinity edges are just a few of the top trends in the high-end luxury pool market.

Challenges

It sounds great—so why don’t all 25 million qualified buyers run out to install a swimming pool? They are an expensive investment. High installation and maintenance costs are common deterrents to potential pool owners. According to Pkdata, the average cost of an inground residential swimming pool is $39,084.

Solutions

After the initial investment of installing a swimming pool, there are ways to reduce ongoing costs on pool care. Cutting-edge pool maintenance products on the market allow pool owners to reduce their maintenance costs, energy usage, and environmental impacts.

Maytronics—a global leader in the field of electronic swimming pool cleaners—offers several cost-effective and eco-friendly pool maintainence solutions:

  • Dolphin, a line of automated pool-cleaning robots that run independently of the pool pump, allows you to thoroughly clean your entire pool for less than 15 cents per cycle. This hands-off system replaces the backbreaking chore of cleaning the pool yourself and is an affordable, reliable alternative to a weekly pool service.
  • Solara Solar Pool Heater uses proprietary technology and a revolutionary design to harness the power of the ultimate renewable resource—the sun. Polymeric glazed insulation panels trap heat and create a greenhouse effect, warming your pool water up to 10 degrees.
  • Dryden Aqua revolutionary water treatment solutions—Activate and Enhance Summer—work together to reduce your need for chlorine, stabilizers, clarifiers, and polishers.

Are you a potential pool buyer? We’d love to hear your motivations and challenges for making the decision!

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