“BRANDING WATER” case study

The point of the case study is to illustrate that anything can be branded successfully, even commodities. Hundreds of teams from dozens of countries have presented their recommendations on this topic. Most of the recommendations had at least nuggets of good ideas for creating unique brands of water. And many were strong enough that they could easily be turned into thriving businesses.

Water is the quintessential commodity. Approximately 326 million trillion gallons of water can be found on earth. (Admittedly, only 3% of this is in the form of freshwater. About 70 percent of our planet is covered in ocean with an average depth of several thousand feet.) And approximately 60% of human bodies are water. Water is largely tasteless, odorless and colorless. Recognizing that water is scarcer in some places, still in much of the world, water is delivered directly to people’s homes at a relatively low cost and is easily available in great quantity. In fact, many people and businesses use massive quantities of water on a regular basis for irrigation, manufacturing and to maintain landscapes. So how then can one differentiate and command a price premium for water? It has already been done many times before. Consider Voss, Pellegrino, Ty Nant, and many other brands of bottled water.

Here are some of the more common approaches to differentiating water that the marketing executives in my workshops have taken:

    •             Taste/flavoring/carbonation
    •             Color
    •             Bottle/packaging shape/color/functionality
    •             Source/story
    •             Health qualities
    •             Ways to drink
    •             Size
    •             Price
    •             Suggested uses
    •             Bundling with other products
    •             Distribution

Some of the most extraordinary forms of differentiation outside of the obvious taste/flavoring/carbonation/color/bottle shape/packaging approaches include the story behind the water and its source/acquisition and the unusual/specialized uses and delivery methods.

by Brad VanAuken
Chief Brand Strategist

The trend of carrying and consuming water from bottles has become increasingly popular in recent years. Water is now packaged in plastic bottles, coolers and jugs for both convenience and portability. How this development has occurred over time may be interesting to those who consume bottled water and who want to know more about the plastic used to contain it.

Fun Fact

  • Close to 50 billion bottles of water are consumed in the United States each year, with close to 200 billion in the world, according to a May 2008 article in The New York Times.

Recent Developments

  • High-end brands of water emerged in the late 1990s, with brands such as Voss, Ty Nant and Evamor marketing artesian or high-purified water to luxury customers. Since the late 12th century, most bottles used to contain water were made with a neck, but now water is put into all sorts of containers. Bottle shapes and sizes evolved along with this trend, and different types of materials were used. Water is now sold and carried in jugs, cans, multi-gallon-sized plastic and even aluminum bottles.


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