Global Competitiveness in the Bottled Water Industry: A Case Study
The bottled water market in the U.S. is a recent development. Most water bottlers had traditionally positioned their products as an alternative to tap water. A few imported waters were sold for health reasons. The real growth in the bottled water market took place in the second half of 1970s when Perrier was introduced as anon alcoholic, chic alternative to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Bottled water accounted for $3.2 billion sales in 1992 out of a total beverage sales of $159 billion. Although bottled water is the smallest in terms of revenue, its gallonage market share stood at 8.7 percent, and it is by far the fastest growing category of all beverages. The future prospects of the bottled water industry in the U.S. appear bright due to the deterioration of municipal water supplies, interest in healthy living, and the movement of bottled water into main stream as a refreshment beverage. Currently, there are over 700 bottled water manufacturers in the U.S. The leader among these is the Perrier Group with almost one-fourth of the market. Although the Perrier Group is a foreign firm, most of its sales are generated from U.S. brands that this company has acquired over the years. For example, its only imported brand Perrier, accounted for only 1.7 percent of the market in 1993. Overall, imports have less than 4 percent of the U.S. bottled water market. This situation is no different than in the beer or soft drink industry. But there is one exception. While lead players in the beer and soft drink industries are U.S. companies, in the case of bottled water the three among the first five industry members are foreign firms, (i.e., Perrier Group, Suntory International and Evian), accounted for about one-third of industry sales.
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