Water forms an essential part of every human being. Since it is a human necessity it makes the best sense to do business. As a normal human being requires an average of 2-3 liters of water every day and the world population is more than one billion (growing at 2-3% annually) the business opportunity is enormous and the potential is largely untapped. The bottled water industry is estimated to be a whopping 1600 crores business. It has grown at a rate of 38-40% annually over the past four years. Initially, bottled water brands like the French manufactured Damone were promoted at clubs, fitness centers, cinemas, department stores, malls, ice-cream parlors, cafes, and retail sports outlets, besides restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets with a price tag of ` 70/-for 1 liter bottle. Other brands later began pitching for the larger middle class and lower-middle-class markets
Earlier bottled drinking water was privileged to high class, foreign tourist and highly health-conscious people but the present decade has witnessed increasing popularity among average consumers, increasing living standards, disposable income, education and awareness among the consumers domestic and foreign tourist, sophisticated business houses, and offices has increased rapidly the sales of bottled water in recent years. The growing demand for bottled water speaks volumes of the scarcity of clean drinking water and the quality of tap water. It has become an icon of a healthy lifestyle emerging in India. Selling –‘safety’ –i.e. pure and simple water has now become one of the fastest-growing industries in India despite the harsh truth it is built on the foundation of bad governance, inequality, and obvious exploitation.
However, bottled water provides the distance advantages of convenient packing, consistent quality, and are ubiquitous. This particular industry in India has never looked back after the economic liberalization process of 1991-92. The fastest growth in the consumption of bottled water in the world has been recorded in India according to a new study conducted by the US-based earth policy institute. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), there are 1200 bottling plants (out of which 600 are in the state of Tamilnadu) and 200 brands of packed drinking water across the country (nearly 80% of which are local) hitting over the markets which thoroughly signifies the market is big, even by international standards.
These are boom times for the Indian bottled water industry –more so because the economics are sound. India is the tenth-largest bottled water consumer in the world. The consumption of smaller units of 500 ml has increased by around 140% perceptibly. Even school children are carrying the 500 ml packs in their school bags. The 20-liter bulk water jars have found phenomenal acceptance in households and at the workplace. With the growing market size, one can imagine the employment opportunity being created with the surge in the bottled water industry. The bottled water market is dominated by major players such as Coca-cola, Pepsico, Parle, K.K. Beverages, Manikkchand, Tata-Mount Everest. Although we have a large number of players, Parle was the pioneer among the major player when it was launched in India, 35 years ago.
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