Coca-Cola may be forced to delay its all-important launch into the bottled water market or, even worse, scrap it altogether.
Coca-Cola is scheduled to launch a bottled water in the UK – filling a gaping hole in its portfolio – in the first quarter of next year (MW August 3). It will be the first water launched by Coke since Dasani, which failed in 2004 after it was discovered to be tap water containing potentially dangerous chemicals.
But an insider at the soft drinks giant says the company does not have a single source for the water, meaning it could not fulfil the strict criteria governing whether a water manufacturer can claim “spring” or “mineral” provenance for its product.
The insider says: “The problem Coke is having is finding a single source – it is looking instead at launching an ‘on the go’ product positioned as a non-source water.” She adds that Dasani is no longer being considered as the brand name for the water but that another possibility could be Pump, the name of a Coca-Cola water in Australia.
That would be a disastrous step according to three industry experts, all of whom say there is no successful branded water on UK shelves that isn’t a mineral or spring water.
One source says: “After Coke came out of the Dasani episode with egg on its face, you’d think it would prioritise bringing a credible, no-risk water without any question over the source to the market. Customers will be looking for any mistake by Coca-Cola over this launch.”
Another source says: “My sources indicate to me that Coke is still struggling over the water source. The only option for Coke if it can’t claim spring or mineral provenance is to call it a table water. It won’t do that because its brand needs to be upmarket and funky. I would be very surprised if this doesn’t delay Coke’s launch horribly.”
A Coke spokesman says: “We have always said it is our intention to be a major player in the bottled water category, but we have no plans to announce at this stage.”