The Dynamics Of The Bottled Water Market Versus Tap Water

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Bottled water occupies a special place in the French cart – when all they have to do is turn on a tap to satisfy their thirst. But hearing the three mastodons of the sector, the Swiss Nestlé and the French Danone and Roxane (who commercializes Cristaline), bottled water has nothing to do with tap water.Based on their origin (the Alps for Evian, the Vosges for Vittel) and their particular composition, the major brands insist on their properties to distinguish themselves – and justify a price 100 to 300 times higher than tap water. They first settled down by praising their virtues for health. They have each traced their own path, promising slimness, digestion or vitality.

Benefits that are not necessarily proven, but very attractive. Over time, brand communication has changed significantly: water now promises less to treat than to avoid contamination. The message that is working, is the promise of purity, the avoidance of anything dangerous. And since tap water is always considered potentially suspicious, this mistrust benefits to bottled water.

Another reason for this dynamic is that bottled water is surfing the mobility wave.“Not everyone walks around with a gourd. So, putting a small bottle in your gym bag, in your children’s school bag or on your desk has become a habit.” With consumers focusing less on the composition of their water and more on its purity or ease of use, the landscape has been disrupted over the past two decades by the rise of spring / source waters. Established positions have faltered, to the point that Cristaline, created only 25 years ago, has surpassed all historical brands. With a low price and a positioning that competes with both tap water and mineral water, spring / source water has turned the rules of the game upside down. ‘We are present in every half of our households because we keep our promise to provide consumers who need to have faith in what they drink with perfect quality water at the lowest price’ says Agnès Jacquot, marketing director of the Roxane group.

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The actors of the market therefore define communication axes to support them through well-being and health, and they all position themselves as competitors: Through its presence in thermal cures, Evian water has become over the years the symbol of the youth of body and mind, which explains its slogan ‘Let’s live young’ (Vivons jeune). Evian has built a worldwide reputation for the benefits of its water. Evian communicates about the quality of its water and the benefits it has on our health. Its brand image is associated with purity, youth and well-being.

Since the 1950s, the Contrex brand has been characterised by a loyalty to its positioning – supporting women in their quest for slimness. The brand will gradually build its legitimacy thanks to its dual beneficial action during periods of slimming: elimination of toxins and calcium and magnesium supplements. ‘Today, 83% of general physicians recommend Contrex as part of a low-calorie diet’ says Maud Ampollini, senior brand manager at Contrex.

Volvic has set itself an objective: the desire to offer a healthy alternative to be hydrated. a message reinforced by the brand statement of the brand at its creation: ‘A volcano is dying out, a being is awakening’ (Un volcan s’éteint, un être s’éveille). Through this slogan, the brand seeks to communicate on two essential criteria of its brand universe: its origin and its consumer. First, the volcano is Volvic’s timeless symbol because of the geographical location of its source. Secondly, ‘the awakening being’ obviously refers to the human being who gets his energy from Volvic. Cristaline stands out from other competing brands by its attractive, relatively at a low price. This is a real advantage for consumers who buy their water according to its price. In addition, Cristaline can be consumed by the whole family, including newborns. The origin of its bottled water comes from 17 different sources, spread all over France.

Using the range strategy as an observation point, it can be seen that the firmes have organized a segmented structure in the competitive sense of the term. In this way, Danone group has focused on waters for babies and small children because of their low mineralization (Evian). Finally, Nestlé has taken over the highly mineralised still water segment, targeting adult consumers who are concerned about the benefits of the particular waters they consume. Competition would not be as strong as the general public would like to believe. The companies have built their product line by choosing a non-frontal competition approach.

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