Since writing the post about Evian bottled water a few months back (and spending generously to purchase bottled water during my recent trip to Europe), I have been following the bottled water industry more closely. This is one industry that fascinates me with its innovative marketing and advertising practices. If we take the bottled water industry as a whole, we got to think who are they competing against? The free flowing tap water? Yes, that’s correct. A tasteless, colorless, odorless liquid that sells for more than gasoline in any developed country is competing against something that is freely available. And that’s not all, many activist organizations taking their aims and trying to paint the industry a big fraud, keep FDA and the likes on high alert. So to let alone strive, I think even to survive in this business, you need to be extraordinarily creative.
Speaking of creativity (and assuming Evian is out of this World), let’s start with something that created controversy with its advertisements: “The Label Says Fiji Because It’s Not Bottled in Cleveland.” (ok, that was dumb, but it created a hell lot of buzz). Fiji Water that markets itself as affordable luxury sells about a 180 million bottles of water every year, all exported from the Fiji island. The company has made the isolated location of the Fiji island as an important selling point. Fiji Water has done great product placement by linking itself with exotic places and selling it to the elite consumers as a form of cultural capital. Today you can find a bottle of Fiji Water in your room in an upscale hotel, in hands of celebrities and on any news conference featuring the rich or the beautiful. What Fiji Water has successfully done is added a distinctive status to its water.
Fiji water claims that it has a naturally high level of silica which strengthen your hair, skin and nails. When a survey was conducted targeting a group of people who regularly bought Fiji water, they asserted this statement. But actually, as stated by some independent research labs, the silica in Fiji water is so less that it doesn’t have any effect on human body! This is just amazing. The marketing forces at Fiji Water justifies shipping water from Fiji islands and successfully sell it for double the price of any regular bottled water by making people believe what they are drinking is nutritious, which in fact is just plain water. This, combined with the status symbol, has made Fiji water one of the most successful bottled water companies in the World.
Then there are cola giants, beer companies and other FMCG brands trying to grab their share of the market. Coke’s theme for selling Dasani bottled water: “Treat Yourself Well. Every Day”, while Pepsi’s slogan for selling Aquafina: “Nothing but pure refreshment”. Both Coke and Pepsi were late to join the bottled water race following the Used Apple Policy, but due to their deep financial pockets and cheaper methods to produce bottled water (they accept that they are selling re-purified tap water), they are gaining considerable market share.
Bottled water is a Worldwide phenomenon. Companies in different parts of the World use different slogans to sell water. Bisleri in India sells water using “Play Safe” campaign, Kerry spring water’s slogan for selling water in Ireland is “Refreshes in every sense”, Korunni in Czech Republic says “Perfectly balance with no bubbies added”and Rocchetta in Italy base their advertisements on “Cleansed inside, beautiful outside”. If you just see these campaign slogans and not the bottled water, you might not even realize what these companies are trying to sell!
About seventy percent of earth is covered with water, sixty percent human body is water, most fruits and vegetables contain up to ninety percent water, while meats and cheeses contain at least fifty percent water. Still we pay lavishly to buy bottled water. There are about a fifty to hundred thousand water bottle labels in the World. It is about a $7 billion industry in US alone, making bottled water America’s second most popular beverage, just behind soda. The real question…are we really buying just water? Or to put it the other way, are they selling just water? No, absolutely not. Just water won’t sell. As I claimed before, it’s the faith, happiness and purity being sold in that bottle which contains a byproduct known as water!