The Australian bottled water industry has been growing rapidly over the past decade. Many Australians drink bottled water on a regular basis, and on average consumed 21.2 litres per person (Australian Bureau of Statistics) in 2001. The boom in consumption of bottled water has moved the product beyond the niche market and into the mainstream as it has become a staple to many Australians. Many people drink bottled water today simply because they prefer the taste to that of tap water or perceive it to have more purity. Other reasons behind the explosion in bottled water consumption are: consumers' passion for fitness which guides them to fewer caloric beverages; increased accessibility of bottled water via convenience stores, supermarkets, food service outlets etc; and marketing designed to convince the public of the purity and safety of bottled water.
This report will aim to discuss the various consumer behaviour issues facing marketers of bottled water. This report will also discuss the influences that affect the purchase of bottled water as well as the importance of brands and product symbolism.
Meeting Consumer Needs
Meeting changing customer needs by providing the right products or services has been an ongoing marketing challenge for retailing in competitive global markets (Kim et al, 2002, pp. 481-502). Consumers may choose particular products or brands not only because these products provide the functional or performance benefits expected, but also because products can be used to express consumer's personality, social status or affiliation (symbolic purposes) or to fulfil their internal psychological needs, such as the need for change or newness (emotional purposes).
The bottled water industry recognises this difference in consumer needs and have a wide variety of products which cater for all consumers. Products like MiZone, Aqua Blue and H2O are aimed at the sporty public, while Evian, Glacier and Perrier cater for the high-end market. There are also flavoured water like Torquay, Arquilla and San Benedetto as well as the cheap and widely available Peats Ridge and Mount Franklin.
Consumer decision making varies with the type of buying decision. Assael (1987, pp.157-64) distinguished four types of consumer buying behaviour based on the degree of buyer involvement and the degree of differences among brands. Of these, the following two are used for the purchase of bottled water.
1.Habitual Buying Behaviour: Many consumers purchase water under conditions of low involvement and the absence of significant brand differences. Consumers have little involvement and just go to the store and reach for the brand they know and recognise. If they keep reaching for the same brand, it is out of habit and not strong brand loyalty. Marketers for new products would find it effective to use price and sales promotions to stimulate product trial in their brand.
2.Variety Seeking Buying Behaviour: For some consumers the purchase of bottled water is characterised by low involvement but significant brand differences. The evaluation of the product happens during consumption and the next time, the consumer may reach for a different brand purely for the sake of variety. The market leader and the minor brands of bottled water have different strategies. The market leader tries to encourage habitual buying behaviour while the challenger firms will encourage variety seeking behaviour.
According to Yau (1994), consumers' product choice and preference for a particular product or brand are generally affected by very complex influences. Thus, consumers' values, which reflect social influences and environment, would affect needs to be fulfilled through purchase and consumption decisions, and therefore consumption behaviour. The main factors affecting the buying behaviour of bottled water are
1.Cultural Factors: Of the cultural factors, social class would play a major role in...