ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9980-4946

Document Type

Article

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Disciplines

Advertising and Promotion Management | Business | Marketing

Publication Details

Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 2014, PP. 15-31.

Abstract

Why choose to buy one brand of bottled water over another, when, as consumers, we are effectively just buying water — H2O — a colourless, odourless product? This study investigates the power of branding in the bottle water market—a billion euro industry that has been created to sell a product with little or no distinguishable features. Sales of bottled water continue to increase year on year globally, and in Ireland. Ballygowan and Volvic have the largest market share of the water market in Ireland, and, interestingly, they also invest the most in their marketing. One of the aims of this study is to find out why Irish consumers chose to buy bottled water in the first instance? Why do they decide to pay for a premium priced bottled product of which they have a relatively free supply at home? Is a clever marketing strategy the key to this market in aiding decision-making for consumers of bottled water? During the early stages of this study, and to inform the direction of the research, a ‘taste test’ pilot study was undertaken. In total, 31 people took part in this taste test. Of those, just 3 people were able to differentiate between the top three selling bottled water brands in Ireland, and tap water. From these results, the researcher’s interest was piqued by whether or not marketing plays an integral part in the purchase decision of consumers when buying bottled water? To determine the answers to the research questions developed after the initial pilot testing, a quantitative methodology was applied in an effort to gather relevant data directly from the Irish market. In total, 223 people responded to the survey. The results of the study found that people purchase bottled water for three main reasons: a) they believe it tastes better than tap water; b) it is a convenient option; and c) it is a healthier alternative to other drinks on the market. This research also indicates that when consumers purchase bottled water they are often buying a brand name and not the product itself—water. This study has also found that Irish water brands such as Glenpatrick, Purely Irish, and Royal Mystic who are not as active in the marketing arena as Ballygown or Volvic have a much lower visibility in the market place. Marketing is vital for bottled water companies to gain market share in Ireland, and one of the findings from this study indicates that vigorous marketing was an important factor in influencing brand choice in the context of bottled water. This study will be of benefit to those involved in the bottled water industry and those interested in the concepts and impact of branding in general.

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