Selling Free Water
July 26, 2007
Dan McGinn over at New Persuasion has a great write up on the NYC Get Your Fill campaign for tap water. While his points are well taken, and I applaud his efforts to raise environmental awareness around the waste of bottled water (I've since given up drinking Fiji water), there is a greater trend taking place here.
NYC is trying to give away their own free filtered water, and they need advertising and promotions to help spread the word. Could it be that the bottled water business has so successfully marketed their product, that consumers don't recognize the value of FREE NYC water that has gone through filters similar to those used by the very same bottling companies they are already purchasing?
Why would someone pay for something they can already get for free, and what can be done about this environmental travesty?
A friend recently suggested that we pay for bottled water because successful marketers have convinced us that bottled water is better. Otherwise (we must think), why would it be bottled? As good as marketers are, I don't believe this to be the truth.
I believe that the answer to this question lies in our societal trends. We don't fix old VCRs, we buy new DVD players. We don't fix telephones, we buy new ones. Think about it, unless you're eating out or particularly concerned with organic whole foods, how much of your dinner is homemade and how much of it came out of some sort of package?
We are a packaged society. Everything comes nicely shrink wrapped in an attractive package. If something doesn't work, we get a new one.
Given the choice between inexpensive disposable prepackaged water and the prospect of filling a water bottle, refrigerating it, washing it between uses and then remembering to restart the process all over again as soon as you get home... it is clearly evident that packaged bottled water is well worth the single dollar price tag (to the average consumer).
But there is hope. I would like to propose an environmental and humanitarian push against prepackaged bottled water. NYC can promote their water all they want, but all they are really doing is flushing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the proverbial drain. Perhaps more efficient, would be to sell "ONLY IN NYC" waterbottles at stores across NYC. All bottles come prefilled with refrigerated NYC filtered tap water. All bottles can be refilled with refreshing cold water for a mere 25 cents at any participating retail location. Retailers would be making near 100 percent profit while gaining valuable shelf space. Consumers would be generating far less waste. Bottled water companies would be forced to move into other markets, like powdered vitamin packed flavor packets and dissolving pills.
Everybody can win. Thoughts?