Increased Bottled Water Consumption Linked to Ad Campaigns

The bottled water industry has been struggling since the Great Recession started. While the cost of bottled water was an issue for some consumers, others pulled back on their bottled water consumption because of concern about the environmental impact of so many plastic containers hitting the landfill. But, bottled water is a healthy alternative compared to other types of beverages consumers might choose to buy. Not long ago, Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) studied the industry and showed the power of an ad campaign when it comes to increasing sales of this commodity.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made healthy eating a centerpiece of her leadership. Recently, she joined with the Partnership for a Healthier America and encouraged consumers to drink more water. NCS established a framework to measure the impact of the online ad campaign “Drink Up” on consumers and their increased purchases of bottled water. Researchers focused on 3 consumer groups in this study:

  • Fence Sitters – Younger, midscale consumers who are mostly influenced by which products are hot and like to see celebrity endorsements
  • Well Beings – Younger to middle-age consumers who are focused on healthy lifestyles
  • Eat, Drink and Be Merrys – These downscale, younger consumers are price conscious, feel that their lives are barely under control, and patronize quick-serve restaurants

Researchers measured 18 million online ad impressions and found that the studied audiences increased their purchases of bottled water by 3% during the study period. The largest sales lift came from the Eat, Drink and Be Merry group, 4%. However, in terms of impact, the highest return came from Fence Sitters. On a per-thousand impressions basis, these consumers were most likely to start buying bottled water. Overall, researchers found that marketers realized a return of $52.42 for each thousand impressions or a $5 increase in sales for every $1 spend on advertising.

At least 55.8% of consumers drink bottled water on a weekly basis according to AudienceSCAN. Not surprisingly, higher income consumers are more likely to buy this beverage than lower income consumers. 27.5% of these consumers eat fast food at least once a week while 25.9% enjoy this food 2–3 times a week. These statistics suggest there's potential for cross-promotion of bottled water with quick-serve meals. In addition, 26.1% of this audience notes taking action because of hearing a radio ad in the past 30 days. Bottled water vendors may want to add radio to their media mix to reach this audience.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.