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Nestle banks on consumer return to bottled water


VEVEY, Switzerland For the past couple months, Nestle Pure Life, manufacturer of Perrier, Poland Spring, Vittel and Awuarel, has been aggressively pushing its new health-and-wellness advertising campaign. The company has been informing consumers of the healthy benefits of drinking water and the harmful effects of drinking soda through new labels on their packaging, as well as TV commercials on Hispanic channels. Some Poland Spring bottles stated, “A typical 12-ounce soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar,” and popular talk-show host Cristina Saralegui did voice-overs saying, “Kids don’t jump in pools of high-fructose corn syrup,” in commercials portraying children jumping in clear pools.

The new campaign is meant to combat plummeting water bottle sales, which were down to $17 billion in the U.S. last year, a number significantly impacted by people viewing bottled water as environmentally unfriendly. In an interview with Ad Age, Nestle Waters North America president and chief executive officer Kim Jeffery stated that he disagreed with critics. “I would argue that we’re good for the environment, and we’re good for human health, as opposed to being an environmental villain.”

By targeting sodas, Nestle is fighting its main competitors—Coca-Cola, which owns Dasani, and PepsiCo, which owns Aquafina. In 2006, 70 percent of the increase in sales of bottled water in the United States came from people switching drinks, according to Bob Davino, a vice president of marketing for Nestle Waters. Jeffery said Nestle’s Eco-Shape bottle is proof of their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. The Eco-Shape bottle is the lightest half-liter bottle being made for beverages today, Jeffery said, and the company is planning to eliminate another 20 percent of its weight.

Jeffery claimed cited a small media budget as the reason for not being quite as transparent as critics. “We’re half the size of the soft-drink industry, and our media budget is about 10 percent of theirs.” The new campaign includes nine messages rotating through Nestle bottled water labels, and according to Ad Age, the commercials featured on Hispanic channels are gaining traction. “One of the things we know is that when people migrate to this country from Latin American countries, they are very familiar with the Nestle trademark,” Jeffery said. “There's a high level of trust, and they index very high in bottled-water consumption because of the quality of tap water in their native countries.”

Jeffery also explained to Ad Age that it is impossible to trust tap water, since it often flows through an “infrastructure that’s as much as 100 years old.” He believes people should drink Nestle Pure Life bottled water because the company can guarantee that the product is “high quality,” healthy and is contained in packaging that has gone through a significant reduction in plastic.

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