Branding the World’s Water (by Sarah Oliva)

When did free natural resources that have been available for thousands of years become so expensive?

I can only point this back to marketing.

Bottled water companies have been very successful in getting the public to pay for this one natural resource in particular, water.  Americans spent over $11.8 billion on bottled water alone in 2012.  This adds up to be 9.67 billion gallons in total with an average of 30.8 gallons of bottled water per American consumer. (Latif) These numbers are on the rise each year. (Goldschein) We are mistakenly influenced by the “brands” that drinking this water from a bottle with a specific wrapper and name on it is a lot safer than drinking from the tap.  These large companies take water out of the ground for next to nothing, pour it into a plastic bottle and sell the water for much more than it is actually worth.  Tap water actually has much stricter regulations when it comes to being tested before being distributed, such as mandatory e. coli testing, filtration, and disinfecting requirements, to name a few. (Goldschein) Not to mention, about half of all bottled water comes directly from tap water. (Goldschein)

Companies have always competed against each other for the larger market.  More recently something has changed: “The biggest enemy is tap water.  When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to irrigation and washing dishes,” said a Pepsi VP, Susan Wellington, in 2000. (Goldschein) In our day companies don’t have to worry solely about their rival establishment, but also about the Earth itself taking their business.

Although I try to use my reusable bottle, I am guilty of grabbing a bottled water now and then.  It is true that they are more convenient and available to buy pretty much everywhere.  These companies did something right when claiming water as their own product and marketing how much better their version of water actually is.  We no longer drink water; we drink the brands, Aquafina, Dasani, Poland Springs, and Fiji.


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