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Water Brands Look to Quench Their Thirst through Sponsorship

Water Brands Look to Quench Their Thirst through Sponsorship

5 minute read

  • The bottled water industry is experiencing significant growth with increasing revenues expected to continue.
  •  With this growth, water brands are looking to establish their positions within the category and are turning to sponsorship to do so.
  • Water brands has been leveraged in multiple scenarios such as launching a new brand and repositioning the produc

Consumers are more frequently reaching for a water as their drink of choice and as a result the water category has seen a steady increase in sales. Research company Mintel, reported that bottled water sales increased 6.4% to 15 billion in 2015, with the expectation of continued growth through 2020.

With growing interest from consumers, competition within the water category is intensifying. Major companies are launching new water brands while existing brands are making significant investments in sponsorship to solidify their position within the market. MKTG highlights three scenarios where water brands have turned to sponsorship to in order to achieve their objectives. 

Scenario 1- Beverage companies leverage sponsorship upon launch of new brands

Major beverage companies Coca-Cola (Dasani) and PepsiCo (Aquafina) have long included bottled water brands within their portfolio. However, more recently, both have launched their own “premium” water brands in order to capture multiple segments and meet consumer demand for premium water. According to the Mintel study, 53% of American bottled water drinkers prefer to drink premium water.

Upon its launch in 2007, smartwater leveraged Jennifer Aniston in order to capitalize off her strong awareness scores and to affiliate with Aniston’s aspirational Hollywood image. This month, PepsiCo will release a competing premium bottled water called LIFEWTR. LIFEWTR will collaborate with artists throughout the year to create different labels for the bottle, bringing to life its “inspired” brand promise. LIFEWTR will also launch its first commercial during peak television viewership, Super Bowl LI. For their commercial, PepsiCo tapped well-known musician John Legend to record a variation of one of his hit songs. The association with John Legend will provide LIFEWTR with widely popular and culturally relevant endorser with minimal brand partnerships. LIFEWTR is also a sponsor of this month’s New York Fashion week, an event that used to be associated with smartwater. LIFEWTR can leverage the new sponsorship as an extension of the brand’s commitment to appearing youthful and modern and reach influencers in a hyper-targeted environment. 

Scenario 2- Leverage sponsorship to reposition the product

Brita is a market leader in the water filtration category. However, despite their long history, Brita had not invested in sponsorship in a meaningful way until it announced its partnership with NBA MVP Steph Curry in March 2016. Curry stated that it was important for him to collaborate with Brita as he felt it was important for kids to choose water over alternatives that are more sugary. As part of the partnership, Curry has attended an Oakland school to promote the benefits of drinking water as opposed to sugary alternatives. The partnership presents an innovative opportunity for Curry, athletes in his position have traditionally opted to partner with a sports drink. Though the innovative partnership Curry is able to promote healthy living authentically. 

Scenario 3- An established brand looks to maintain its position and attract a younger audience

Since 1977, Perrier has been a sponsor of the French Open, one of the premier tennis events in the world. Luxury brands like Mercedes and Rolex are co-sponsors who use their association with tennis to target a more affluent audience. Hosted in Paris, a city known for fashion and luxury, the French Open is one of the most aspirational properties in tennis. Through the tournament, Perrier is able to promote itself as a premium product.

Even at sponsored experiences with a more millennial-centric target market with less disposable income, Perrier activates by creating premium experiences that validate the upscale positioning. As a sponsor of multiple music festivals including Osheaga in Montreal, Governors Ball in New York, and the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Perrier has the platform to engage with a younger market. While activating at these events, Perrier continues to promote themselves as a premium brand by being present in the VIP areas of the event. At Governors Ball, Perrier sampled products within luxury cabanas located near the main stage and backstage at the event. At the Osheaga Music Festival, the Perrier Greenhouse provided concert-goers with an air-conditioned area to stay cool and sample Perrier products. The Perrier Greenhouse was a tangible value-add for attendees and helped reinforce the brands exclusive brand image.

With the water industry experiencing increased demand, brands are aggressively trying to establish their position within the category. Whether a brand is new to the market or has been around for a number of years, sponsorship has been a key tool in helping them establish that position.  

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