The Coke Smartwater Initiative

When dining at a fancy restaurant, with good food comes a premium bottle of water, which, more often than not, is almost twice the cost of regular ‘packaged drinking water’. Usually visible at five-star hotels, fine-dine restaurants, airports, metro cities, and some tourist destinations, premium packaged drinking water claims its ‘premiumness’ title through its manufacturing process.

Highlighting the same in a recently released campaign – Made Differently – by ‘smartwater’, a premium water brand by Coca-Cola, the communication focuses primarily on the ‘unique’ manufacturing process of the product.

The two black-and-white ad films featuring Radhika Apte and Rana Daggubati highlight how the Coke-branded bottle of water is made through the process of vapour distillation (equated with the formation of clouds) and remineralisation with electrolytes.

Regarding the campaign, in a press release issued by the brand, Anoop Manohar, director, emerging categories, Coca-Cola India, says, “Our aim with this campaign is to help consumers relate to the idea of smartwater. As a premium water brand, smartwater is more than just a product, it is a lifestyle choice, a frame of mind and an attitude of seeking the best, all rolled into one.”

Taproot Dentsu conceptualised the campaign.

Titus Upputuru, creative head, Taproot Dentsu was quoted as saying in the press release, “This brief was challenging. We were asked to talk about the manufacturing process. That could have gotten really boring. The way smartwater is made is inspired by clouds. We found this very fascinating. The installation execution seemed appropriate for a premium brand like smartwater.

In the packaged drinking water segment, India has close to 200 bottled water brands. Of these, Bisleri’s Vedic and NourishCo’s Himalayan are the big players at the premium end, of which a 500 ml water bottles costs between Rs 30-50, as against, a normal packaged drinking water bottle of Rs 10. Other brands in the segment include Nestle Group’s Pure Life, Manikchand Oxyrich, Tata Water Plus, Qua, UB Group’s Kingfisher Spring Water, Parle Agro Group’s Bailley, Pepsi Co. backed Aquafina, Coca-Cola Company’s Kinley, and Parle’s Bisleri, among others.

According to a report published in the ValueNotes, a market and competitive intelligence firm, most of the current players in this segment are serving specific regions, with their focus still on urban tier I cities. They are still not able to reach distant smaller cities and towns with large tourism potential. Only a few large players such as Tata and Bisleri are currently in a position to service pan-India thanks to their extensive distribution network and brand name.

We were curious as to who exactly is buying the comparatively high-priced premium packaged water. And in a country where many still worry about being able to afford the second meal of the day, how promising is the market for a premium’ basic need’ product?

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