As will be shown below, the bottled water market is increasingly competitive and consumers have a dazzling array of choices available to them. It is clear that Voss has taken this into account when developing its sophisticated packaging, some samples of which are shown in Figure ____ below.
Figure ____. Representative Sampling of Voss Packaging Techniques.
In fact, one new admirer of the Voss brand unashamedly proclaimed that even though she liked the water, it was the "wicked cool" Voss packaging that sold her: "Yesterday, I drank a few bottles of Voss Artesian Water from Norway. One was Still. One was Sparkling. Both were pretty good but its wicked cool glass bottle is the best thing about it. My friend Sharon said she paid $20 for a bottle of Voss at the tres upscale Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, which was more than she paid for a glass of wine!"
The marketing literature provided by AquaMaestro, an online marketer of quality bottled waters, enthuses that, "Voss Artesian bottled water is taken from a virgin aquifer that, according to the company, has been shielded for centuries under ice and rock in the untouched wilderness of Central Norway. Perhaps more to the point in today's world of lifestyle trends, Voss's stunning cylindrical package has quickly developed a superior image and significant market share in the ultra-premium bottled water segment." Like some American milk producers (i.e., Braum's) adding additional butter fat content to their milk to make it taste better, Voss also adds bicarbonate to the sparkling version of its product, thereby accounting for its elevated mineral content compared to its still version of the product.
Today, Voss water is bottled and marketed by Voss of Norway ASA, a Norwegian Limited Company, headquartered in Oslo, Norway. The company's board of directors include chairman Knut Brundtland, Magne Jordanger, Arne Hjeltnes, Eva Kempe-Forsberg, Lars Hoie, Anitra Steen and M. Hadly Mullin. Other key executives at Voss include CEO Morthen Johannessen, founder Ole Christian Sandberg, VP Operations Stian Kjellemyr Eilertsen, VP International Sales Siri Titlestad, VP Emerging Markets Thomas Weeden and Legal Counsel Gard Skogstrom Andreassen; the company's organization in the U.S. is headed by Ole Chr. Sandberg. Voss of Norway ASA also owns Energy Group as, the company behind G. Pure Energy, an energy drink available in the United States. The board of directors of Voss of Norway ASA consists of chairman Knut Brundtland and directors Eva Kempe-Forsberg, Arne Hjeltnes, Hadley Mullin and Andreas Boquist.
The Growing Market for Bottled Waters.
The growing demand for bottled water today can be attributed to two primary sources: (a) increasing health- and taste- consciousness among consumers and (b) the wide range of marketing techniques being used to promote its consumption, and these issues are discussed further below.
Perhaps as a sign of the increasing presence of effluents in the nation's drinking water, although it may be safe, tap water usually does just not taste as good as bottled water. Even store brand bottled waters cost far, far more than their tap water counterparts, so empirical observations suggest there may be something to the taste issue. According to Pip, "Annual consumption of bottled water in North America and Europe is substantial. Many consumers choose this alternative because they dislike the taste of chlorinated tap water, or because they believe that bottled water contains fewer contaminants and is a healthier choice."
In this regard, the safety factor of bottled waters is cited as one of the reasons for its increasing popularity in the U.K.: "Not long ago, the British would never have considered drinking bottled waters, spending a weekend in the jacuzzi of a health farm, or giving birth in water pools in hospitals." Notwithstanding the health considerations involved, there are also some taste factors that must be taken into account. In fact, even the best bottled water just tastes like, well, water, which is to say like nothing, which accounts for the addition of flavors by Perrier and others to provide consumers with the experience that they are in fact tasting something.
The growing brands being offered for sale in the bottled water market today in the United States and the EU include a wide range of domestic and imported spring and mineral waters, tap waters that have been treated by filtration, reverse osmosis, or distillation, and miscellaneous waters supplemented by the addition of specific salts. To complicate matters from the consumers' perspective, labeling standards in the bottled water market remains highly varied. According to Pip:
Label designs can feature attractive pictures of blue mountains or glaciers that may bear no relationship to the actual provenance of the water. Descriptions of the product often contain terms that imply purity, such as 'glacial,' 'alpine,' 'natural,' 'crystal,' 'premium,' or 'pure.' Unfortunately, definitions of terms differ in various jurisdictions and in the understanding of individual bottlers. The water source is not always identified on the product, and a brand may use more than one source.
Coke and Pepsi enjoyed a long ride, but like the Model T, consumers today want more choices and water is no exception. In this regard, one analyst notes that, "The world of the one perfect soft drink for everyone is gone. The bottled water industry has come a long way since Canada Dry started marketing water as a mixer in other drinks in the early 1980s. Bottled water sales have tripled in the past ten years to $5.7 billion in 2000. and, women constitute the majority of bottled water drinkers" (emphasis added).
The results of a recent survey of young London women provided some valuable guidance for the marketers at Voss. The study determined that there is in fact a demand for an alternative to plain water, provided that the taste is very subtle, as well as a demand for added nutrients, provided that they were natural and low-calorie; the survey also found that women wanted a fully recyclable, portable bottle with a wide neck (something which the author suggests involves not smearing lipstick). Based on their historic propensity to closely follow Western trends, as a representation of what may be expected in the Turkish market, more than 50% of all Americans drink bottled water and spend 240-10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they do for completely safe and potable tap water, a trend that has largely been fueled by the notion that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water.
While bottled water may taste better, there are also some other compelling reasons for purchasing one brand over another. According to Gabriel, "The scenario seems to repeat itself ad infinitum: you might see the president of the United States drinking from Poland Springs at the inauguration or a member of the Backstreet Boys quaffing Ice Mountain in an MTV interview -- all of it free advertisement, solidifying bottled water's spot in the collective consciousness. And it just must be driving the folks over in product placement crazy." The bottled water market is in fact just part of a larger trend.
Today, marketers of a diverse line of consumer products are increasingly focusing on younger consumers with brand names that evoke images of an elegant lifestyle and they are doing it in droves. Some observers suggest that this is due in large part to the messages being communicated to these young consumers concerning how these products can add to this perception of elegance and luxury - all at an affordable price. After all, many people today can afford to purchase the very best of some products, such as a cigar or in this case, a bottled water, to achieve this level of satisfaction if only for a fleeting moment and to impress their friends. In this regard, Twitchell suggests that bottled water marketers have not been idle in response to these trends and are promoting their brands for this purpose: "This phenomenon explains why companies like Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's are appearing on street corners in poor urban neighborhoods; why Gen Y-ers are clutching bottled water with French names and cigars with Cuban wrappers." In fact, some high-quality bottled waters such as Evian are even being marketed "as if they were a liquor."
According to Greco and his colleagues, "Coca-Cola and Pepsico did not foresee changes in consumer behavior patterns and allowed Perrier and the bottled water industry to gain a foothold in the soft drink industry." Perrier managed to achieve this marketing feat by employing a product positioning strategy that allowed it to capture a larger share of the soft drink market: "Perrier positioned its product in consumers' minds as an alternative to soft drinks. A product's position is the complex association of perceptions, impressions, and feelings that consumers maintain for the product as compared to competing products." In order for the company to achieve this goal, though, sales of the Perrier brand had to be extended to…