Branding water

Sara Dolnicar, Anna Hurlimann, Bettina Grün
  • Water Research, June 2014, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.03.056

What is it about?

Branding is a key strategy widely used in commercial marketing to make products more attractive to consumers. With the exception of bottled water, branding has largely not been adopted in the water context although public acceptance is critical to the implementation of water augmentation projects. Based on responses from 6247 study participants collected between 2009 and 2012, this study shows that (1) different kinds of water – specifically recycled water, desalinated water, tap water and rainwater from personal rainwater tanks – are each perceived very differently by the public, (2) external events out of the control of water managers, such as serious droughts or floods, have a minimal effect on people’s perceptions of water, (3) perceptions of water are remarkably stable over time, and (4) certain water attributes are more effective to use in public communication campaigns aiming at increasing public acceptance for drinking purposes. The results from this study can be used by a diverse range of water stakeholders to increase public acceptance and adoption of water from alternative sources.

Why is it important?

Findings from this study have direct practical implications: they guide public policy makers in which water attributes they should be emphasizing in their campaigns.


Professor Sara Dolnicar
University of Queensland

Looking at the polished marketing campaigns for bottled water, I wish we would be more proactive in communicating to the public the benefits of the full range of other kinds of water.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Sara Dolnicar