With overall bottled water sales weakening in North America, category leader Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) is moving in a different direction for its latest regional spring water brands' campaign, "Born Better."
In recent years, the marketing emphasis for the spring water brands -- Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Ozark and Zephyrhills -- has been on packaging innovations such as a 700-ml. Sport Top bottle, kid-size Aqua pod bottle, and reduced PET-resin Eco-Shape bottle.
"Born Better" from McCann Erikson, N.Y., represents a shift to focusing primarily on the unique sourcing of the spring waters -- coupled, in the online space, with messages related to health and the company's environmental sustainability efforts.
The core creative for the "Born Better" TV spot is the same for all six brands, with the brand name, bottle and footage of the spring source shown at the end adjusted to reflect each brand's version.
The main visuals take the viewer on the "journey" of spring water, with narrative emphasizing that "only one-billionth of 1% [of the water on earth] is filtered naturally beneath the earth ... with a distinct balance of minerals ... and emerges crisp and refreshing enough to be called Poland Spring [or other regional brand name]."
Similarly, the six brands share a core platform for their "Born Better" campaign microsites (such as polandspringbornbetter.com). These also emphasize the spring waters' natural sourcing and "distinct taste," make comparisons with pour-over, home-filtered tap water and sodas, and provide information on the brands' environmental stewardship of the watersheds around their springs and recycling efforts.
The TV commercial's Poland Spring version rolled out during the first week of November, and the Arrowhead and Deer Park versions on Nov. 9. The other brands' versions will begin airing next year.
In addition, regional-brand "Born Better" radio spots ran from August through mid-November, and print -- likely to focus on ads in major magazines -- will debut next year, according to Angela Barile, group marketing manager-regional spring waters for NWNA.
Microsite traffic is being driven through online advertising. The regional brands' social media efforts, which have thus far been limited largely to Facebook pages, will be "evaluated as part of the media mix" for 2010, Barile tells Marketing Daily.
U.S. bottled water sales jump nearly 60%, to $5.1 billion, between 2003 and 2008, making bottled water the third-most-consumed beverage (after soda and milk), per Mintel data cited by the Washington Post.
But consumers' switch from bottled to tap water to save money, combined, to a lesser extent, with pressure from environmental activists and growing competition from home filtration systems, have recently been taking a toll on leading marketers' sales. Coca-Cola's Dasani and Pepsi's Aquafina saw U.S. sales drop by 26% and 13.8%, respectively, in the 12 weeks ending Aug. 8, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Nestlé Waters saw worldwide organic sales decline by 1.6% last year, and parent Nestlé SA attributed that decline -- as well as a 2.9% decline in Nestlé Waters' global organic sales in this year's first half -- largely to slowing bottled water sales in North America and Western Europe.
For the first nine months of 2009, Nestlé Waters' global organic sales declined 1.8%, although Nestlé reported that its Pure Life purified tap water (the leading bottled water brand worldwide) saw double-digit increases in North America, as well as in emerging countries. Nestlé also reported that while the bottled water category as a whole was weak in North America, the company gained market share in the region during the period.
Nielsen put NWNA's PET bottled water volume share (excluding Wal-Mart) at 37.7% as of Aug. 8 this year, up two points over the previous year. In second place were private-label bottled waters, which gained three points, to reach a combined 29% share.
Americans' consumption of bottled water dropped by 100,000 gallons last year, to 8.7 billion, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. However, plain bottled water and RTD teas were the only liquid refreshment beverages to show growth in the U.S. in this year's first half (up 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively), according to data cited in a presentation on the future of bottled water by Nestlé Waters CEO John J. Harris. In comparison, carbonated soft drinks declined 3.7%, juice drinks declined 10.4%, sports drinks dropped 12.8%, and even enhanced waters were down 11.8%.
Furthermore, in an overview of its report, "Future Opportunities in Bottled Water," Business Insights projects that bottled water category sales in Europe, the U.S. and Japan will grow at an average rate of 5.3% between 2006 and 2012, to reach nearly $76.4 billion. And while Europe will remain the leading bottled water market (with a 61% share as of 2012), U.S. growth will be double that of Europe's (32% share as of 2012), according to these analysts.
Other analysts have pointed out that emerging nations continue to represent double-digit sales growth opportunities for bottled water (Nestlé Waters had 20% organic growth in emerging markets last year), and that global demand will support higher bottled water prices in the years ahead.
As for marketing strategies, Business Insights concludes that bottled water sales growth in the years ahead "will be driven by manufacturers promoting the provenance of water by placing greater emphasis on the source," adding that manufacturers are "demonstrating their ethical and green credentials by seeking to adopt more socially responsible business practices and reducing carbon footprints."