A fall in water sales last year had nothing to do with a consumer backlash and everything to do with the weather, new figures from Danone Waters reveal.
Although figures from TNS showing a 9% fall in bottled water sales were seized upon by the media in March to demonstrate that consumers were turning back to the tap, Danone has since recorded its biggest sales day in two years.
On 12 May, sales of its Evian and Volvic brands were up 55% year on year, the highest level since August 2006, according to its internal data. In the four weeks to 18 May, sales of the two brands were up 22% across the big four supermarkets, and overall shipments from its UK factories were up 73%.
Last year's poor summer and a particularly cold snap in March this year were the main factors behind the slowdown over the year, said Evian marketing manager Tom Pullen, rather than the emergence of a long-term consumer trend.
"It would be naïve to say we've not seen any backlash, but it had been difficult to isolate whether it had any impact due to the bad weather," said Pullen. "We can now see the fall in category sales was largely down to the weather."
However, Danone was still trying to challenge negative consumer perceptions, highlighting the benefits of a mineral water over tap water in its campaigns, he added. "You will see more from us in this vein," he said. "But it's often not about the choice between bottled or tap. It's about choosing Evian or Volvic while out, instead of picking up a Coke."
Danone was also looking closely at the growing trend towards functional water and believed Volvic could benefit from such innovation, added Pullen. "We are constantly looking at functionality as there's been great growth in the US. We'll look at where customers want us to go, be it with added vitamins or natural additions."