Bottled mineral and drinking water is often attributed to a healthy lifestyle – more and more often one can hear advice on consumption of products in this category and claims on their positive effect on human health. How do these statements correspond with the real motives of consumption of said products? Do Russians drink water in order to maintain health, and if so, is it the main motive of consumption?
In order to study preferences in the category of bottled mineral and drinking water, MASMI surveyed 200 consumers of this beverage type aged 18-44 in Russian million cities. Each study participant consumes the product in question at least once a week, and is responsible for food purchases in the household. The survey was conducted in March 2017. Participants were responding to questions in an online questionnaire.
CONSUMPTION OF BOTTLED WATER
All in all, one can state that the dynamics of bottled mineral and drinking water consumption have been positive: over the past 3 years, 35% of respondents began to consume more products of the category, and almost 57% of respondents reported the same level of consumption as before. Only 8% of survey participants admitted drinking less bottled mineral and drinking water.
Around half of consumers of the category consume bottled mineral and drinking water of the brands “Svyatoy Istochnik (Sacred Spring)”, “Aqua Minerale” and “Yessentuki” at least occasionally*. These brands are the most popular for regular consumption and each of them is chosen by approximately 15% of respondents. They are followed by the trademarks “Bon Aqua”, “Borjomi” and “Novoterskaya”, preferred by less than 10% of respondents.
It should be noted that “Arkhyz” and “Novoterskaya” brands are present a lot more rarely among the younger audience (aged 18-24). A significantly larger share of respondents of this age group drink water under the trademark “Svyatoy Istochnik” most often.
Interestingly, brand preferences are not constant – for instance, around 20% of survey participants gave up drinking “Bon Aqua” or “Aqua Minerale” water brands. 10% of respondents stopped consuming water of the brands “Rodniki Rossii (Springs of Russia)” and “Shishkin Les (Cone Forest)”. The majority of consumers having abandoned “Rodniki Rossii” are aged 25-34.
Over half of respondents who abandoned certain brands of the category in question explain their decision with changes in preferences, and state that they like other brands now. This is the most common reason for stopping consumption across all age groups within the survey conducted.
The second most important reason is a decline in product quality in a given brand, as noted by 23% of respondents.
To consumers of the category aged 35-44, the most important reasons for abandoning bottled mineral and drinking water of a given brand include the desire to save money and the fact that mineral water cannot be consumed constantly. These reasons were named by almost a third of respondents of the age group.
MOTIVES OF BOTTLED WATER CONSUMPTION AND CHOICE CRITERIA
Thirst serves at the main motive of bottled mineral and drinking water consumption – almost 90% of respondents regardless of age named this reason. Around 40% drink water in order to improve their health condition, the importance of this motive increasing with age. And finally, 25% of respondents consume products in the category in order to get the necessary vitamins and minerals. 15% drink bottled mineral and drinking water in order to treat diseases of the digestive system. 50% of consumers surveyed name one of the three health-related motives (overall health improvement, vitamins and minerals, treatment of digestive diseases).
While choosing bottled mineral and drinking water, 25% of respondents primarily pay attention to the brand. The taste of the beverage is the main factor for almost the same number of respondents. A little more than 10% of survey participants decide by the expiry date and the price.
It is interesting to note that the largest share of respondents aged 25-34 (27%) primarily pay attention to the taste of the product while choosing bottled water.
BOTTLED WATER PURCHASES
Over half of bottled mineral and drinking water consumers surveyed buy it spontaneously, without planning it in advance. This means that in successful realization of products in the category the place on the shelf plays a particularly important role, and so do promotions. The lowest figures in planning for the category are demonstrated by respondents aged 35-44.
Among those who plan water purchases, the majority (almost 70%) plan the amount of purchase in advance as well. In addition, almost half of such respondents know in advance which brand of mineral or drinking water they will buy.
The main sales channels for bottled mineral and drinking water are supermarkets and hypermarkets, as noted by 80 and 50% of respondents respectively. The importance of these distribution channels is the same across all age groups within the study.
CROSS-CONSUMPTION OF OTHER SOFT DRINK CATEGORIES
Consumers of bottled mineral or drinking water are also active consumers of other categories of soft drinks. Over 90% of these respondents purchase packaged juices; 80% consume carbonated beverages (cola, lemonades and others), and slightly less than 70% drink packaged kvas as well as packaged coffee and tea beverages.
It is interesting that the most active consumers of ‘unhealthy categories’, such as carbonated drinks or kvas, are respondents aged 35-44. Consumption thereof by younger consumers tends to be less intense.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that consumers of bottled mineral and drinking water plan purchases of carbonated drinks less often – less than 30% reported doing so.
We can conclude that, even though improving health is an important motive of bottled mineral and drinking water consumption, it is far from being the main reason. Most respondents drink it simply due to being thirsty. In addition, it is important to note that consumption of ‘unhealthy’ products like carbonated beverages is high among bottled mineral and drinking water consumers, which implies that, on average, respondents do not adhere strictly to healthy eating.
* It should be noted that consumers confuse terms and brands of natural mineral table water, processed bottled drinking water and medium mineral water.
Senior Project Manager
Department of Quantitative Research at MASMI CJSC