U.S. publication Beverage Digest is reporting that, for the first time ever, Americans drank more bottled water in 2006 than milk.
The industry newsletter says Americans last year drank nearly as much bottled water as beer. And if the trend continues, in a few years they will be drinking more bottled water than tap water.
Yep. In these troubled economic times, consumers are happily paying for something they used to consider – and can still get – free.
Beverage Digest publisher John Sicher cites portability and health as the key reasons for bottled water's popularity.
But I think there is more to it than that – and this should interest every entrepreneur. Bottled water's popularity springs from the intersection of several different trends: the growing sophistication of consumers, rising concerns about health, wellness and the environment, and increasing willingness to spend more on personal conveniences.
Kudos to Pepsi, Coke, Nestle and others who saw this trend coming a decade ago and bought up their own water companies. For once, the people who brought you New Coke and Pepsi Clear actually guessed right.
And that's where you come in. The popularity of bottled water demonstrates the ongoing power of new and even unlikely niches – if they fit with emerging trends. And when they sit right at the convergence of several trend lines – such as wellness, environment, convenience, and, yes, the growing fear of public infrastructure (much more prevalent in the US. than in Canada) – well, that’s a bright green light saying “Go for it!”
Know your trends. And bet on the intersections.
Just the Stats: Beverage Digest's says average per-capita consumption of bottled water grew from 11 U.S. gallons to 21 gallons between 1996 and 2006. Consumption of milk dropped from 22.7 to 19.5 gallons over the 10-year span, while beer consumption held steady at 21.8. Soft-drink consumption dropped from 52 gallons to 50.9.