Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Real Reason You Got Sucked In To Buying Bottled Water

This week, 60 minutes claimed that all of us that have bought bottled water have been conned. Charles Wooley said “I don't know it might be just a matter of perception but the heart of the whole argument is a public belief that somehow or other bottled water is purer and somehow safer than this water I just poured from a tap.”

Charles continued “Jon Dee, founder of the environmental campaign group Planet Ark, believes we've fallen for one of the biggest marketing scams of all time.” with Jon adding “The simple fact is we've been conned by the bottled water industry and they're laughing all the way to the bank.”

What a load of rubbish! Here’s why …

Often I leave comments on people’s blogs which try to take conversations bake to some basic marketing theory. Theory that as far as I know has never been disproved. It is important that we often re-set to some of this theory because they are the absolute building blocks of the marketing profession. One of my favourites is value.

The 60 minutes story took the basic and ignorant line that anyone who buys bottled water is doing so because they believe the value in drinking bottled water, over tap water, lies in the claims made about bottled water being better for you. bottled water

Marketing is about exchanging value and the value in this exchange, for the majority of us, does not lie in receiving the claimed health benefits of bottled water. The value lies in the convenience of obtaining bottled water.

Most of you would know about the 4 P’s of the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place, Promotion – if you don’t, Google it.

Now, before I get into this please note that I know the 4 P’s never work in isolation however the story basically pushed the line that the main reason we buy bottled water is because the product and the promotion are what sucks us in. In fact, it is the opposite.

The least important element of the marketing mix when selling bottled is Promotion. Closely followed by the Product (enhanced/purified water). More important are the Place and Price elements.

That’s why we don’t actually see that much advertising for bottled water. It’s because the manufacturers know that they should be concentrating their marketing dollars on the Place and Promotion elements.

Question: Would you buy a bottle of water for 50c - $1 if you knew it was just tap water? I would, because it is convenient and I see value in not having to carry my own water bottle with me everywhere I go and trying to find a tap to fill it up from. For the record, I always drink tap water if it is easily accessible and that is why the Place element is also more important than the Product and Promotion elements.

However, I know a sample size of 1 is dangerous so I would like you to take 2 secs and let me know on the poll on the left hand side which of the 4 P’s is most important to you when you buy bottled water.

Cartoon courtesy of - The Far Left Side by Mike "nature boy" Stanfill


Nathan Bush said...

I'd like to see a break down of the places where bottled water is bought. Unlike other beverages, I would say that it isn't the supermarket that it is predominantly bought from but servos and vending machines on order to serve an immediate need (cold, thirst satisfying).

Zac Martin said...

I'm with you buddy, what a load of shit.

I buy bottled water because I am thirsty and a tap isn't around. It's far easier for me (value) than carrying around my own water bottle all day.

Plus, no one's forcing you to buy water. Wenches.

Bones Lawley said...

water sucks, gatorade is better. nevertheless I agree wit you and I've only bought bottled water once and I got the cheapest one there. but now there are so many bottles of water that surely promotion is really important. people will buy pump over mount franklin or whatever all the time and it can't have anything to do with price if you're buying the more expensive one (assuming they are the same millage too obviously). That's why we're seeing pink tops with 'proceeds' to breast cancer and a lot of purchase place-based actually in store (maybe not so much digital, TV print stuff) there's an acknowledgment there that it is an immediate buy and the consideration happens in store, so that's where they're hitting you. maybe I'm way too junior for this though because what I'm saying seems a bit obvious. hmm.

Daniel Oyston said...

@Bones, good points. Sure promotion is important but I think it is only important ONCE someone has decided to purchase water and the promotion helps them pick which water they buy.

Therefore, while it is definitely important, it isn't the most important and is not the reason we buy it (i.e. we haven't been conned because of the promotion)

Adam Ferrier said...

Many years ago I took a class in 'Gender Studies' at a rather left leaning university. It used a piece from 60 Minutes to show how superficially the world saw (in this case) transexuals. 60 Minutes took a now male transexual, and a now female transexual and tried to set them up on a date - becuase they were both transexuals. Ever since then I've abbolutely no respect for 60 Minutes what-so-ever.

However, the weird thing is, is that some people still see this as 'good TV'. It's not, and your point about the bottled water story is exactly right.

It would be so much more interesting to look at the drivers that deem paying $3.50 for something you can get for free seem like good value.