Bottled water and bottled water delivery has grown in popularity in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area in recent years.
This popularity is due to a number of factors like poor municipal water quality and a growing awareness of the role of good health in modern living. In addition there are a small number of high quality water suppliers who have adjusted their product and service offering to the unique needs of the marketplace.
But marketing has come under attack by municipal water suppliers and other groups who have a vested interest in supplying lower grade municipal water. Claims are made that bottled water is unregulated (not true for bottled water companies that engage in interstate commerce) or that bottled water is often nothing more than repackaged bottled water (partially true for even some large bottled water suppliers). Criticism is also levied against spring water in bottles because of contaminated spring water due to industrial and organic pollution.
These critical statements about the use and misuse of bottled water marketing however are superficial and do not examine the real role of proper bottled water marketing. In essence marketing is nothing more that identifying and segmenting consumers with shared desires and needs and preparing strategies to meet those shared desires. Done right, marketing is more than spin, hype or puffing and true marketing benefits all involved.
Proper marketing of bottled water products must, at a minimum address the following needs in the market place.
• Water quality – Since municipal water is terrible in both level of contaminants and odor and taste, bottled water suppliers must produce contamination free water that tastes good. Purified water based on a distillation/oxygenation process is considered by many experts to be the highest quality best tasting water on the market today. The water is 99.9% pure and, because of the addition of oxygen, it has a fresh, light taste.
• Product features – Customers in the market are interested in product features that make the product safe and easy to use. Features such as spill proof caps, carrying handles and bottles made of safe materials are required to be successful in the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia market.
• Quality customer service – Many large suppliers in the market give only lip service to the customer service needs of the customers and respond slowly or not at all to customer requests and complaints. However, there are good companies with a culture of customer satisfaction that meets the needs of the market place.
• Supplier integrity – Some suppliers in the market offer low loss leader pricing coupled with a long term contract and penalties for cancellation. At best this unfair to the consumer and at worst this practice is unethical. Consumers are urged to choose a water supplier with fair prices and without hidden charges.
• Community support- Look for a company that includes giving back to the community as part of its culture. Many companies are interested in selling products only to the community and do not support community events or charities. Some suppliers, however, participate in supporting the Washington and Northern Virginia community events as a matter pf policy.
Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia represent vibrant, growing communities that are health and family oriented. Pure water is a part of this lifestyle. If you are choosing a water supplier, pick one that markets honestly and fairly and meets your needs.