NEW YORK -- Taste plays a large role in driving growth in both bottled and home-treated water, according to a new industry analysis of existing consumer data, jointly reported by Beverage Marketing Corp., here, and The Hall Water Report, Chincoteague, Va.
water will become the dominant drinking water segment by 2005, with an estimated 36% market share. Meanwhile, tap water is predicted to lose additional market share and home water treatment is predicted to grow one share point.
In addition to taste, the "2001 -- USDWS" also identifies health and fitness, quality concerns and culture as additional drivers in the growth of both the bottled and home-treated segments.
"Between 1997 and 1999 the number of persons saying they preferred tap water declined a significant 6%," said Jonathan Hall, publisher of The Hall Water Report, in a prepared statement. Hall co-authored the report with Beverage Marketing.
"Correspondingly, premium bottled water packaged in PET plastic grew by an astonishing 80% for the same period, and has continued to outperform all other beverage industry segments," stated Beverage Marketing chairman Michael Bellas, also in a prepared statement.
"The '2001 U.S. Drinking Water Segments' report uses a comparative estimates approach to defining segments of the drinking water market, which had heretofore never been defined," Hall said, "and while doing our quantitative research, we discovered that taste is the primary driver for alternatives to tap water on the consumer side."
A new report on the southern California environment suggests that taste and odor are how consumers rate the quality of their tap and well water. This underscores the primary findings of the BMC/HWR report. However, health and fitness are also key drivers for bottled water growth, Hall said.
The growing popularity of bottled water has been at the expense of other high-calorie or caffeine-laden beverage categories. Media influence on consumers has also been an especially strong component of bottled water growth. For example, a recent book by a high-profile physician recommends that consumers who don't like the taste of their tap water consider drinking bottled water as an "inexpensive and healthy alternative to drinking soda, juice or other beverages."
Tap and well water concerns are also a major consumer driver, especially for poorer Americans. Citing a Princeton Survey/Georgetown University report from June 2000, Hall added that 44% of respondents indicated that they, or a close family member, have lived in a community where the water was believed to be unsafe to drink. Also, for immigrants from countries where the quality of municipal tap water in their home countries is spotty at best, bottled and treated water is a cultural phenomenon imported from abroad.
Water is the No. 1 consumed beverage, and the average person with a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet needs 64 ounces of fluids per day, or eight 8-ounce glasses, according to experts at The Harvard School of Health. Factors that may influence consumption include individual diet considerations, environment, weather and level of activity.