For decades, fizzy drinks have dominated the bottled refreshment market. Visit any store refrigerator or cafe, and you’ll see shelves upon shelves of cola, lemonade, and sodas. However, the times, they are a changing! 2016 saw an explosion in the bottled water market, with varieties such as vitamin infused, coconut, flavoured, and medical water, and the consumers are paying attention. Between July 2016 and July 2017, bottled water sales in the UK outstripped cola sales, with 1.77 billion litres of bottled water being purchased, in comparison to 1.72 billion litres of cola, this is the first time in refreshment history that this has happened, and is the fourth consecutive year of double digit growth for the bottled water industry in the UK.
Benefits of water over fizzy drinks
There have been many elements that have fuelled this boom, as well as the variety of waters available, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the pitfalls of hydrating with fizzy and energy drinks. In recent years, the risk of excess sugar consumption has become more and more evident. It has emerged that, as well as affecting the enamel of your teeth, excess sugar consumption can overload your liver, increase the risk of type two diabetes, increases our body’s vulnerability to inflammation.
As well as affecting our body in the long term, increased consumption of sugar can harm our mental health, increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as inducing irritability in individuals who are withdrawing from sugar. Conversely, drinking water has a host of health and mental benefits. Staying properly hydrated with pure water improves our cardiovascular health, lubricates our muscles and joints, and assists with digestive disorders. Drinking still water also improves our mental wellbeing, increasing our cognitive function, improving our reaction speeds, and reducing general fatigue.
Consumers are increasingly health conscious, displaying a commitment to purchasing healthy food and refreshments, especially in the emerging Millennial markets. Increasingly, they are selecting still water when exercising, refreshing, or socialising, as their bottled beverage of choice.
When it comes to profit, bottled water has the edge. Due to the accessibility of water sources, and a variety of innovations in water packaging and transportation, bottled water is reducing in price rapidly, with value options starting from around 19p, with a top price point of around £1.00, for an average 500ml bottle. Compare this to the price of the average soda beverage, which ranges from £1.00, and can peak between £2.00 – £3.00.
The UK Government recently paid attention to the risks of excess sugar within beverages, bowing to pressure to impose a ‘Sugary drink tax’ from 2018, it is expected that total sugar content above 5g per 100 millilitres will be taxed at 18p per litre and drinks above 8g per 100 millilitres at 24p per litre, adding between 6-8p duty on an average 330ml can of drink.
We expect retailers to react to this tax rapidly, reducing the sugar content of beverages, or focusing their attention increasingly towards bottled water. Indeed, bottled water is the fastest growing drinks market in the world, with sales of bottled water expected to hit 4.7 billion litres by 2021, this is a massive 100% higher than sales of bottled water in the 1980s.