Coke launches premium bottled water brand

Coca-Cola is making a major push into the growing UK bottled water market under its Glacéau brand, a launch that comes ten years after the company hit the headlines with its Dasani water brand, which it was forced to pull from the market after it was revealed the product was just tap water.

Glaceau Smartwater
Coca-Cola launches Glacéau Smartwater, a product made from British spring water.

Glacéau Smartwater is made from British spring water, which Coca-Cola says is “vapour distilled” before electrolytes are added for taste. It will be produced and bottled in Northumberland, which the company says reflects its “Made in GB” commitment.

The brand was first launched in the US in 1996 and has grown to become the “leading premium water brand” in the region, according to Coca-Cola, success the company hopes will be replicated in the UK.

The launch will be backed by a marketing campaign that will include TV, digital, outdoor and print.

Glacéau will be retailed at 57p for the 600ml bottle and 89p for the 850ml version, which Coca-Cola says is in line with the price of a 500ml bottle of other leading water brands.

Jon Woods, Coca-Cola GB and Ireland general manager, says: “Glacéau Smartwater presents a great opportunity for us to grow our presence in the water category. We have seen the success that the brand has delivered in the US market – and look forward to offering consumers a premium brand without the premium price. We now have 22 brands in the UK including many low or no calorie options and provide people with a wide range of drinks to suit their lifestyle.”

The UK bottled water category grew six per cent year on year in value sales to £1.38bn, according to researchers Canadean. Zenith International forecast in October that the category is set to grow by a further 8 per cent over the next three years.

Coca-Cola does already have another bottled water brand, after acquiring the Morpeth-based Abbey Well bottler in 2008 to create Schweppes Abbey Wells, which was the official water brand for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

By putting the new smartwater product under the Glacéau name – which is also shared by the popular Vitaminwater products – Coca-Cola will be looking to put the reputation damage suffered by the 2004 Dasani water scandal behind it.

In a situation reminiscent of The Only Fools and Horses episode when Del Boy attempted to market tap water as “Peckham Spring”, Coke had to withdraw its entire supply of Dasani after the company was criticised for marketing the product “as pure as bottled water gets” due to its “highly sophisticated purification process” when it was simply tap water. The Food Standards Agency had also found the product had high levels of bromate, which exceeded UK legal standards.

The company had invested more than £7m in the launch.

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