3 Insights Into Bottled-Water Preferences

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

bottled water

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- More than three out of five Americans (63%) say bottled water (still and/or sparkling) is among their most preferred beverages, followed closely by coffee (62%), according to a new national survey. Fewer Americans (58%) say soft drinks (regular and/or diet) are among their most preferred drinks.

Nearly all Americans (94%) believe bottled water is a healthier choice than soft drinks, and 93% say bottled water should be available wherever drinks are sold.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) of more than 3,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, also found that among those who have ever purchased bottled water, those who identify bottled water as among their most preferred beverages are more likely than those who identify soda as one of their most preferred beverages to recycle their water containers.

“This poll is consistent with consumption figures released earlier this year that show, for the first time in history, bottled water is the No. 1 packaged beverage in the United States (by volume),” said Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “People are shifting away from less healthy packaged drinks.”

Here's a look at three highlights of the survey results ...

1. Drink preferences

bottled water

Bottled-water drinkers find many factors important when choosing a beverage, but taste (99%), quality (99%) and safety (92%) are at the top of the list. Bottled-water drinkers also say that features such as ready to enjoy (82%), convenient packaging when on the go (80%) and resealable packaging (74%) are important to them when choosing a beverage. Sixty-nine percent of bottled-water drinkers say low calories are important when choosing a beverage, while 72% say the lack of artificial sweeteners is important.

Nearly all Americans (99%) drink water—tap, filtered or bottled—and among them, 33% drink both bottled water and tap/filtered water equally. Roughly three in 10 water drinkers (31%) drink only/mostly bottled water, including 16% who drink mostly bottled water and 15% who drink only bottled water. More than a third (35%) drink only/mostly tap or filtered water, including 23% who drink mostly tap or filtered water and 12% who drink only tap or filtered water.

Eighty-two percent of Americans agree they should drink more water, and 90% believe bottled water is a healthy and convenient beverage.

2. Recycling trends

recycling water

Among those who ever purchase bottled water, bottled-water drinkers are more inclined to recycle their bottled-water containers than those who say soda is among their most preferred beverages; they are more likely to say they always recycle bottled-water containers at home (66% vs. 60%) and away from home (37% vs. 32%). This is consistent with a 2016 PET study that found bottled water is the No. 1 most recycled product in curbside recycling systems, with a rate of 53.1%, compared to soda bottles, which was 20.4%. The 2016 study by the National Association of PET Container Resources included other food and beverage containers in its analytics.

“The new poll also found that people who own their own home report they recycle more often than renters, both at home and away from home. The poll also showed that people who were married said they recycled more often than those who were single,” said Culora.

3. This time, with attitude

bottled water cap

When asked about their general opinion of bottled water as a beverage choice, 86% of Americans had a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinion of bottled water. Women are significantly more likely than men to have a positive opinion (88% vs. 84%) of bottled water, and so do adults ages 18-44 compared to those ages 55 and older (91% vs. 81%). Only 14% of Americans have a “somewhat” or “very” negative opinion of bottled water as a beverage choice.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Alexandria, Va., is an authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. It membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers.