Displaying provenance clearly is vital. Or is it? Drench may show urban cool works just as well

Provenance may be the major selling point for many bottled water brands, but innovation in the UK indicates companies are starting to use other means to attract consumers.
Britvic’s Drench, launched in January, is the most recent example. The company says Drench is the first water brand targeted at young adults and has concentrated on a strong lifestyle image for the brand rather than just marketing it on the basis of provenance.
“Our research revealed a unique opportunity in the water market for an iconic brand aimed at urban youth,” says Andrew Marsden, Britvic’s category director. “Drench is set to shake up the category by breaking the rules and adding a measure of urban distinction.”
Britvic is, in fact, following the
approach of soft drink manufacturers, which have created strong brands based on their ‘cool’ factor, says Andy Knowles, chief executive of design consultancy JKR, which worked on Drench. He believes there will be more of this activity in the future. “The opportunities are there to segment and look for unique propositions rather than just sell water on the basis of provenance or hydration,” he says. “Water is sourced from many different parts of the world, but we are coming to the point where the interest in provenance is diminishing.”
Despite the spectacular failure of Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Knowles believes the company was on the right lines in launching a completely different water brand. “Dasani was trying to eschew all the need for heritage and provenance and Drench is the same. We are likely to see more of that in a very undifferentiated market.”
That’s not to say that consumers don’t care where the water is sourced, as the Dasani débâcle showed. Keith McIlwain, MD at Strathmore Mineral Water says: “Consumers have a desire to understand where the product comes from and the security that comes with it. It’s an interesting move but with Drench there is a risk that it doesn’t give consumers security.”
Paul Martin, Harrogate Spa MD, voices a similar opinion. “Provenance is very important. People are comforted by where the water comes from.”
A new association, British Bottled Water Producers, has been launched to promote British waters. Companies such as Waters & Robson (Abbey Well), Ty Nant, Tau Water and Prince’s Gate Spring Water have already signed up. Director of BBWP Jo Jacobius says: “The time was right to launch a voice for British bottled waters as there is growing interest in provenance and regionality.”
According to Jacobius, companies should be communicating their waters’ unique properties. Although she acknowledges that most consumers can’t taste the difference between waters, she says they are still interested in the various types. “Certain brands should play on their provenance. About 50% of the UK population look for products that are British.”
For the other 50%, Patrick Racz, CEO of Icelandic Glacial, which is looking to break into the UK with its Icelandic water, says that a strong geographical location is essential. Racz believes there is a real affinity between the UK and Iceland, and that the country has an image not only of purity but also of ‘glacial cool’, appealing to 16 to 25-year-olds with its avant garde music scene and extreme sports, as well as to an older generation that regards Iceland as a must-see destination.