A Wellness Conscious America Forces Beverage Companies to Spend More on Bottled Water

Major beverage brands like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle and many others are adjusting their marketing efforts in relation to the new reality – growing health consciousness and awareness of the negative effects of sugar drinks among Americans. Nestlé’s “Greatness springs from here” campaign is a good example of the wellness reality as it shows how an 88 year old volunteer ambulance driver in Maine is leading a healthy and energetic life of service to society…and yes, she prefers Nestlé’s bottled water, Poland Spring, Nestlé’s bottled water brand in Maine.

PepsiCo, the aggressive marketer, as always, likes the big stage and it was no surprise to see it launch its new premium water brand, Lifewtr at the Super Bowl on February 5, 2017. In fact, rival Coca Cola is matching the aggression and its promotional spends on its bottled water brand, Smartwater has doubled like that of PepsiCo and Nestle. It’s a water war that’s gradually taking over the sugar drinks market in the United States.

Annual bottled water consumption is more than that of sugared soda drinks for the first time in 2016 – 39.3 gallons of water consumed by the average American against 38.5 gallons of carbonated soft drinks. This is the finding of the Beverage Marketing Corporation whose chairman and CEO, Michael Bellas, stated, “Water became No. 1 last year on a volumetric basis. It’s being driven by health and wellness trends, it’s natural, local and has this wonderful good for you halo. It hits all of those buzzwords.” Speaking about the promotional spending on bottled water by major brands, he said “The marketing support has been relatively small. “It’s a very tiny amount compared to the other beverage categories, but certain companies are really leading it—Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestlé. It’s not so much that the category is exploding but that certain companies are spending more.” These are early days though.

However, it isn’t just about spending more; it’s about creating a brand that consumers want to connect with, explained Nestlé Waters’ CMO Antonio Sciuto, “What’s happening in the consumer landscape is that consumers are increasingly growing cautious in what they are eating and what they are drinking. The new focus on wellness is changing the habits of the American consumer where they are consuming more fluid, more vegetables and a lot more water.” Ruth Bernstein, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Yard, a strategic image-making agency, summed up the future of carbonated sugar drinks candidly; “It’s clear that soda sales are suffering in the US. From heightened consumer awareness on the health implications of sugar drinks, to government interventions in the forms of sugar taxes, it’s not an easy time to be in the business of selling a soda. It’s no surprise then that the big players are broadening out their offering.”

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