As Coke advertises for its premium bottled water 'smartwater', we take a look at the category and its target group.
When dining at a fancy restaurant, with good food comes a premium bottle of water, which, more often than not, is almost twice the cost of regular 'packaged drinking water'. Usually visible at five-star hotels, fine-dine restaurants, airports, metro cities, and some tourist destinations, premium packaged drinking water claims its 'premiumness' title through its manufacturing process.
Highlighting the same in a recently released campaign - Made Differently - by 'smartwater', a premium water brand by Coca-Cola, the communication focuses primarily on the 'unique' manufacturing process of the product. The two black-and-white ad films featuring Radhika Apte and Rana Daggubati highlight how the Coke-branded bottle of water is made through the process of vapour distillation (equated with the formation of clouds) and remineralisation with electrolytes.
Regarding the campaign, in a press release issued by the brand, Anoop Manohar, director, emerging categories, Coca-Cola India, says, "Our aim with this campaign is to help consumers relate to the idea of smartwater. As a premium water brand, smartwater is more than just a product, it is a lifestyle choice, a frame of mind and an attitude of seeking the best, all rolled into one."
Taproot Dentsu conceptualised the campaign.
Titus Upputuru, creative head, Taproot Dentsu was quoted as saying in the press release, "This brief was challenging. We were asked to talk about the manufacturing process. That could have gotten really boring. The way smartwater is made is inspired by clouds. We found this very fascinating. The installation execution seemed appropriate for a premium brand like smartwater."
In the packaged drinking water segment, India has close to 200 bottled water brands. Of these, Bisleri's Vedic and NourishCo's Himalayan are the big players at the premium end, of which a 500 ml water bottles costs between Rs 30-50, as against, a normal packaged drinking water bottle of Rs 10. Other brands in the segment include Nestle Group's Pure Life, Manikchand Oxyrich, Tata Water Plus, Qua, UB Group's Kingfisher Spring Water, Parle Agro Group's Bailley, Pepsi Co. backed Aquafina, Coca-Cola Company's Kinley, and Parle's Bisleri, among others.
According to a report published in the ValueNotes, a market and competitive intelligence firm, most of the current players in this segment are serving specific regions, with their focus still on urban tier I cities. They are still not able to reach distant smaller cities and towns with large tourism potential. Only a few large players such as Tata and Bisleri are currently in a position to service pan-India thanks to their extensive distribution network and brand name.
We were curious as to who exactly is buying the comparatively high-priced premium packaged water. And in a country where many still worry about being able to afford the second meal of the day, how promising is the market for a premium' basic need' product?
We asked the experts...
N Chandramouli, CEO, Trust Research Advisory, a brand intelligence and data insights company, opines that the packaged water category is crowded and competitive due to the low product differentiators in the segment. Customers still don't differentiate in the sub-category nuances.
He says, "The bottled water customer is the premium buyer, but it is a very small segment. Packaged water has to be sold in volumes to make money. The inherent Buying Propensity of premium packaged water is low."
Further, commenting on the ideation and execution of smartwater's campaign, he adds, "This category has also not used endorsers much and in that, the positioning for smartwater is, to say the least, 'smart', considering that in water, positioning has not yet been tried as a differentiator. Jennifer Aniston's face positioned it as an 'international' brand, so far, though it did not cut much ice with consumers and so, using Indian celebrities is a good attempt. The product promise of 'smart' is, however, unclear and I doubt consumers will buy such an important promise so easily. Trust is established when the proposition is clear to customers."
According to Sharda Agarwal, co-founder - Sepalika, an online platform for women's health, most people in a country like India wouldn't know what premium distilled bottled water stands for or what impact it will have on their health. She says, "Such a category would only be aiming at the people who are plugged into the health segment or appeal to the elite fitness class."
About the market, she feels one has to know why they need a product like this. Are the added minerals not available otherwise in the food that we consume?
"In a country where a huge chunk of the population is struggling to meet the basic needs, it is supremely challenging to sell a premium product to a vast audience. It is mainly a category creation job. The target would be limited and one cannot play by the figures of bottles sold or the market share grabbed. The product, however, can help build an image of the brand."
Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and MD, Samsika Marketing Consultants, a Mumbai-based brand marketing consultancy, thinks that this is the right time to make a premium offering as the market is ready to look at international brands. According to him, the aspirational audience wants to be noticed. It would like to be noticed consuming a premium product and making smart choices.
He says, "Basically, the category is focusing on the upscale and premium audience. Someone who is always on the go, travelling for business or pleasure, dining at fancy restaurants, likes clubbing and partying, would welcome a product like this."
Creative Head: Titus Upputuru
Chief Creative Officer: Santosh Padhi
Creative Team: Titus Upputuru, Auryndom Bose, Chinmoy Bhowmik
Account Management Head: Harjot Singh Narang
Account Management Team: Payal Dhawan, Aditya Seth
Planning Head: Anand Murty
Films: Dawa Lama
Director (of the film): Daniel Upputuru
Cinematography: Sejal Shah
Production House: The DZU Films
Music: Rupert Fernandes
Lyrics: Titus Upputuru