You only realise you are truly a marketer when instead of taking every day things on face value, you begin to question everything! I must start by saying that personally I do not buy bottled water unless absolutely necessary, so this is a biased perspective.
According to Ibis World, the bottled water industry in Australia is worth a staggering $681m and is predicted to grow by 2.8% in 2015. In fact, the industry has seen steady growth for the last five years with shifts in health conscious consumers seeking healthier alternatives and an increasing need for convenience.
Buy why exactly do people buy bottled water?
Brands such as Evian are extracted from natural sources and springs, which can act as a point of difference for the product. Many bottled waters are actually just plain ordinary tap water that has been filtered. By and large, there are actually very few differences between the H2O coming from either the tap or bottle. The health arguments for bottled water are often overstated, although there can be some differences in taste.
The major difference between bottled and tap water is the price. A typical branded bottle of water comparatively is more expensive than petrol and more than 1000 times more expensive than water directly coming from the tap. Would you really consider paying over 1000 times the standard price for any other product on the market?
It is also important to consider the incurred cost to the planet, which is often overlooked. The bottling of water has many negative environmental impacts caused by its extraction, production, transportation and ultimately ending up as either litter, or even worse, landfill. The story of how water is produced is brilliantly explained in the story of stuff project at www.storyofbottledwater.org.
Have we all fallen for a big “water con” or are we simply purchasing bottled water as a way to exercise our freedom? The natural and pure images often conjured up by major brands marketing water is something we all identify with. You only have to look at Evian’s “Live Young” campaign to really get a sense of how they are looking to market to our desire for youth and vitality.
As a responsible modern day marketer I am fully aware of the ethical, social and environmental implications of selling bottled water. Bottled water does have a use, particularly in parts of the world where there is a lack of access to clean water sources.
So, next time you are considering buying a bottle of water, please remember that Australian tap water is clean, safe and the most sustainable option. While the packaging of many brands promotes nature’s beauty, it is actually the natural world that is ultimately paying the biggest price.
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School