Consumers' Preference For Bottled Water Grows, And They Want It Available Wherever Drinks Are Sold

Posted On: 1/10/2019

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ALEXANDRIA, VA -- More than 7 in 10 Americans (72%) say bottled water (still and/or sparkling) is among their most preferred non-alcoholic beverages -- an increase of 9% over last year, according to a new national survey. Bottled water is the most preferred beverage, followed by coffee at 61% and soft drinks (regular and/or diet) at 59%.
Nearly all Americans (93%) say bottled water should be available wherever other drinks are sold, with 89% saying they drink bottled water while they travel, 82% of employed Americans drink it at work, and 75% of all people drink it at home.
The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) of approximately 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, also found nearly all Americans (99%) drink water -- tap, filtered or bottled.
Thirty-seven percent drink both bottled water and tap/filtered water equally. Another 37% drink only/mostly bottled water (up 7% from last year), which consists of 21% who drink mostly bottled water and 16% who only drink bottled water. Approximately a quarter of Americans drink only/mostly tap or filtered water (down 10% from last year), which consists of 16% who drink mostly tap or filtered water, and 10% who drink only tap or filtered water.
When asked about their general opinion of bottled water as a beverage choice, 90% of Americans had a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" opinion of bottled water (up 4% from last year). Only 10% of Americans have a "somewhat" or "very" negative opinion of bottled water as a beverage choice (down 4% from last year).
"The results of this poll are consistent with recent consumption figures that show, for a third year in a row, bottled water is the No. 1 packaged beverage in the United States," said IBWA's vice-president of communications Jill Culora. "People are continuing to shift away from less healthy packaged drinks and are choosing the healthiest option -- bottled water."
The survey also found that among those who have ever purchased bottled water, people who identify bottled water as among their most preferred beverages are more likely than those who prefer soda to say that they always/often recycle their water containers at home (71% vs. 67%). This is consistent with a 2017 PET bale analysis study that found bottled water is the most recycled product in curbside recycling systems, with a rate of 53.9%, compared to soda bottles, which was 20.4%. The 2017 study, by the National Association of PET Container Resources, included other food and beverage containers in its analytics.
When asked who should be primarily responsible for recycling empty bottled water containers, 78% of Americans said consumers. Fifty-nine percent said companies (bottled water producers and retailers), 31% said government and 21% said all of the above.
Bottled water drinkers find many factors important when choosing a beverage, but taste (98%), quality (98%), and safety (90%) are at the top of their list. Bottled water drinkers also say that features like ready to enjoy (81%), convenient packaging when on the go (81%), and resealable containers (75%) are important to them when choosing a beverage. Sixty-eight percent of bottled water drinkers say low calories are important when choosing a beverage, while 70% say the lack of artificial sweeteners is important.
Eighty-four percent of Americans say they should drink more water, and 91% believe that bottled water is a healthy and convenient beverage.
The 2018 survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of IBWA from Nov. 13-15, 2018 among 2,048 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,449 are bottled water drinks (still or sparkling) and 1,209 are soda drinkers.