water being selected off of a store shelf

Researchers Report Record Bottled Water Sales

March 23, 2016

The answer: A medical condition associated with a sensation of dryness in your mouth and throat that creates a desire for liquids; the bodily condition that produces this biological sensation.

The question: What is thirst? And thirsty Americans have generated record bottled waters sales in 2015, according to recent marketing research.

Bottled water sales increased 6.4 percent to reach $15 billion in 2015, according to Mintel, a London-based international marketing research group.

Sales projections show bottled water sales continuing to rise at ever faster rates in the next four years to 34.7 percent. The category of sparkling/mineral water and seltzer is expected to grow the fastest with rates topping 75 percent by 2020, according to the Association of Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Experts attribute the sharp rise in sales to consumers saying they prefer flavored water to drinks with high sugar. Nearly two-thirds of consumers of flavored bottled water are those in the 18-34 age category, the highest overall.

Analyses Show Changing Trends in Market

Researchers conclude bottled water’s popularity stems from several industry facts: More than two in five (43 percent) consumers say they prefer vitamin-enhanced water; three in ten want water enhanced with minerals (29 percent) and energy-producing ingredients (29 percent) as well; nearly a third (31 percent) want zero-calorie water, while ten percent say they want calorie content fewer than 100.

A majority of consumers say they would shun bottled water with artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors or artificial colors. A quarter says bottled water should be free of GMO or be organic.

“Bottled water brands benefit from the overarching consumer trend toward more healthful, better-for-you alternatives to unnatural and high-sugar drinks,” said Elizabeth Sisel, Mintel’s beverage analyst. ”This has spurred sales growth of bottled water with even greater projected growth over the next five years.”

Price and water quality rank high among consumers, researchers say. Nearly two-thirds say the price is a strong motivator in their buying decisions, but more than half indicated they would be interested in premium bottled water selections.

Experts attribute the sharp rise in sales to consumers saying they prefer flavored water to drinks with high sugar.

“While price is a major purchasing factor for many consumers, the majority gravitate toward premium water offerings, despite its typically higher cost,” Sisel said. “To attract the more price conscious consumer, brands should look to incorporate product messaging that justifies a higher price point, as well as communicate the health benefits and sophistication of premium products in order to alleviate any confusion.”

More than three-quarters of consumers have indicated they recycle bottled water containers.

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