Just who might buy a bottle of Coca-Cola bottled sparkling water costing US$9?
Just who might buy a bottle of Coca-Cola bottled sparkling water costing US$9?.
“Turn it into a social currency.” That’s the advice being given by one China marketing expert to Coca-Cola, as the US drinks giant launches what it is being billed as an ultra-luxurious Swiss sparkling water brand, a bottle of which costs double what a Starbucks venti cappuccino might cost.
In China there are people who will pay for Starbucks coffee even they don’t like coffee that much.” Traditionally a nation of tea drinkers, China has become the growth engine for the world’s largest coffee-chain, as the booming Chinese middle classes adopt a cup of coffee as an everyday indulgence, emblematic of their growing social status.
Last year, then Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz projected that the China market may one day overtake the US, which has dominated the brand’s sales for nearly five decades.
Its white paper cups bearing the green logo of a twin-tailed mermaid carry not only the caffeinated liquid infusion, but also just the type of Western imagery aspired to by growing numbers of Chinese.
But when it comes to a bottle of plain water, it’s a different story, however, said Veronica Wang, associate partner with OC&C Strategy Consultants.
“The key here is how Coca-Cola justifies its price, by underlining its origin, functions or packaging.” China’s bottled water market has long been dominated by low- to mid-end domestic players such as Nongfu Spring and Hangzhou Wahaha, which typically charge less than three yuan per bottle, a fraction of the cost of a bottle of Coke’s Valser water.
But with China’s water pollution deteriorating, pipelines decaying, and sources of groundwater drying up, many have started shunning domestically-sourced products, fearing their quality, and that many might be contaminated.
“This new generation is trying to quench its thirst for premium goods, while caring about their health and wellness,”Wang said.
Yet still the price of a 500ml bottle of the Fiji branded water, sells on the shelves for only about 10 yuan.