‘People are not looking for another water brand: they are looking for meaning’

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/oatawa
Pic:getty/oatawa
Bottled water has become an increasingly competitive area, with a plethora of brands on shelves. In today’s marketplace, a brand’s purpose can set it apart from its competitors.

The bottled water category is growing: but it’s still under pressure. As an attractive category that ticks all the right boxes for health and wellness, more and more brands are trying to enter the market.

What will really set brands apart from their competitors is a clear purpose, said Olga Osminkina-Jones, vice president of global marketing and hydration for PepsiCo Global Beverage Group.

“People are not looking for another water brand, they are not sitting and waiting for us to launch another innovation, what they are looking for is meaning, and purpose is truly becoming a necessity in today’s world,” ​she said, speaking at Zenith’s Global Bottled Water Congress in Barcelona.

Furthermore, consumers are prepared to pay more for meaningful brands.

“People now believe brands have more power to impact society. Because of the way people now engage with our brands, there is a wholehearted expectation that brands will contribute to society.

“And focusing on purpose does deliver sustainable results. It may be a long haul, it may take time to truly build it authentically, but results do come.”

Clear, consistent purpose

So how do you build a brand with purpose? It’s important to have a strong, clear and consistent conviction – one that is easily understood by consumers, says Osminkina-Jones.

“We often forget our positioning statements,” ​she says. “I think our marketing speak becomes fuzzy, understood by us, but not necessarily by people.”

Purpose can be about improving society, contributing to culture, or any other aspect that resonates with consumers.

An example is Heineken’s ‘World’s Apart’ campaign, launched in April this year to show that ‘There is more that unites us than divides us’.

It created a short film of a real life social experiment that puts together two strangers divided by their beliefs: a feminist and anti-feminist; a climate change activist with a climate change denier, for example (it can be viewed here​ but requires a youtube sign in).

The film was a collaboration with The Human Library, a not-for-profit organization that uses conversation to challenge stereotypes.

Other parts of the campaign included an event at the Wilderness Festival and an initiative for employees who are encouraged to spend time over a sandwich or beer with people in the organization they haven’t met before.

In the words of Heineken: “For more than 150 years Heineken has stood for openness, believing that the simple act of sitting down and having a conversation over a beer, helps bring people together.

LIFEWTR, PepsiCo’s premium bottled water brand, which was launched this year, has positioned itself firmly as a platform for emerging artists. With the tagline ‘Thirst Inspiration’, the brand launches a new series of LIFEWTR bottles every few months, focusing on a different aspect of art.

Its third series, for example, focuses on fashion and, in a partnership with the Council Of Fashion Designers of America, showcases bespoke designs of three emerging designers: Adam Dalton Blake, Tiffany Huang and Ghazeleh Kalifeh.

It’s about giving true, authentic cultural insights, says Osminkina-Jones.

“It’s very much about building authentic credibility. We exist to advance and showcase the sources of creation and creativity.”

“It is not a brand about painting labels, it’s about giving a platform to emerging articles, helping them build their own name, find a place in the world”. 

Some brands have made a commitment to put philanthropy at the heart of their business. In New Zealand, wine label 27 seconds​ donates all profits to help survivors of slavery: the brand is so called because every 27 seconds somewhere in the world, a person is sold or trafficked into slavery.   

In the UK and Ireland, the One water brand​ uses every bottle of One Water, Juiced Water or Origins to fund water projects in the world’s poorest communities.   

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