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.
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