Mineral Madness

If anyone wanted to compete against the mineral water giants, here’s the ammunition. Just fill up any of these water bottles with filters from the nearest available tap and you get water that is 99.99% free of all dissolved contaminants, pollutants, heavy metals, microbial cysts, etc. In other words, mineral water – without the waste. It’s probably one of the smartest moves an existing mineral water brand can make as a brand extension. Market this to people who are environmentally conscious and are willing to pay the extra price. They would have a surefire winner on their hands since their brand is already trusted by millions of people – and building that is the really hard part.

The mineral water market is not new. Bottled water has been around since 1767. The development of glass technologies in the mid-1800s paved the way for the mass expansion of the market and over 7 million bottles were being bottled every year at the Saratoga Springs. It went out of style in the early 20th century when chlorination ensured that municipal water was safe for drinking. The revival was when Perrier made bottled water aspirational again in a $5 million campaign in 1977. It dovetailed perfectly into growing public concern about pollution and poor quality tap water and the growth of the ‘yuppies’ generation who were quite willing to pay the premium.

In India, ‘Bisleri‘ was introduced by Signor Felice Bisleri in 1965 and bought by Parle a few years later. Initially, it catered to the tourist market since Indians would not dream of paying for water. It was their right to be served free at any restaurant they went to. It was only around the mid-90s that the mineral water market really took off with liberalisation and the growth of the Indian economy – when it was positioned as a status symbol. I guess environmentalists will have to take a leaf out of the marketer’s handbook if they want to be successful. People switch because they care about themselves, not necessarily about the world.