Selling Ice to Eskimos: Water Business in Norway

Norway has a rightful reputation for having one of the cleanest and good quality tap water in the world. Nevertheless, there has been increasing demand for bottled water. Even though buying bottled drinking water is unnecessary most of the time, how do the suppliers manage to sell water to Norwegians?

Figures from Statistics Norway show that 99 percent of those having access to municipal water utilities have enough clean water to drink. On the other hand, bottled water costs one thousand times more than tap water and is more expensive than gasoline in Norway. Even under these circumstances, 75 million liters of bottled water is sold annually. Behind the success of competing with tap water, there must be a deliberate strategy.

The leading national brand owner, Ringnes AS’s Communication Manager, Nicolay Bruusgaard gives answer to this inquiry by telling the success story of their water brand, IMSDAL to The Nordic Page.

-Many people choose our products when they are on the move when the tap water is not available: In nature, training, driving or traveling. In this sense, we are not competitor of tapped water, but soft drinks as a healthy alternative, says Bruusgaard.

He also notes that water has been increasingly popular, especially among youth, but it is not at the expense of tap water. On the contrary, Norwegians drink both bottled water and municipal water, adds he. The communication manager also expresses his gratitude about the water consumption trend among youngsters reminding his company’s objective to foster healthy drinking habits.

– Environmental Sensitivity in Norway: Another Challenge?

Norway is often seen as an environmental forerunner with both state policies and people’s sensitivity in environmental issues. Bruusgard points out this concern leads people to ask whether bottles are hostile to environment. But, he tells they use recyclable bottles and make transport distances as short as possible to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

– Is there a difference between the bottled water and tap water?

Water from a natural source is purified in the manufacturers’ treatment plants, while the water coming to taps is processed in municipal water treatment.

In Norway, bottled water consumption is expected 25 liters per person in a year. In 2009, 639 million liters of soda, and bottled water were consumed. Norway is world leading when it comes to consumption of soft drinks per. person. Each Norwegian drinks an average of approx. 115 liters of soft drinks per year.

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