‘Drink Up’ Initiative Is Boosting Sales of Bottled Water

NEW YORK — The "Drink Up" campaign, launched in 2013, has boosted sales of bottled water and filtered water products by 4 percent thus far among those who were exposed to its ads compared to those who didn’t see them, according to ongoing research by Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS).

In its initial phase, the initiative — created two years ago as a collaboration between First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America — drove a 3-percent lift in incremental sales of bottled water among people who had seen the campaign’s online ads. That equated to nearly $1 million in incremental retail sales of bottled water.

Now, at the end of its second phase, incremental sales have risen 4 percent, according to NCS, which has been tracking the impact of the campaign on in-store sales.

The "Drink Up" initiative has yielded a return of $6 in estimated incremental sales for every dollar spent on advertising, according to NCS' findings.

For its recent second-phase study, NCS focused on the purchasing habits of households that were exposed to online "Drink Up" ads during the 13-week period between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31, 2014. To measure the impact of the campaign on in-store sales, the firm used a single-source methodology to determine the incremental retail sales lift of bottled water and water filter products among the households exposed to the ads. NCS then compared the purchases from those households with those of a control group that did not see the advertising.  

Both groups consisted of nearly identical households that were matched on hundreds of variables, including the mix of category and brand purchases, during the 12 months before the campaign. NCS then measured the sales differences between the two groups during and after the campaign. In addition to total sales, key metrics such as penetration, buying rate, occasions and purchase amount were determined to see what factors drove the sales results.

NCS discovered two segments of consumers in particular — Well Beings and Fence Sitters — responded favorably to the online advertising (see infographic above).

The Well Beings were more responsive, however, as they drove more than 51 percent of the incremental retail sales, generating $143 in sales for every 1,000 impressions. Comparatively, the Fence Sitters contributed 14 percent of the sales volume and generated $16 in sales for every 1,000 impressions.

The study also revealed that as bottled water, water filters and sparkling water increased sales, carbonated soft drinks, milk and juice lost market share. In addition, the increased sales were driven by people buying more water per shopping trip and buying it more often, rather than by growing the number of new purchasers.

Created to encourage Americans to drink more water, as CSNews Online previously reported, the first-of-its-kind "Drink Up" program is supported by the American Beverage Association and major bottled water suppliers, including Nestle Waters North America and Hint Water. 

Cincinnati-based Nielsen Catalina Solutions, a joint venture of Nielsen and Catalina, is a marketing performance analytics firm that measures and improves advertising performance by linking what consumers watch, see or hear with what they buy.

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