Bottled water is one of the top-selling beverages around the globe. In the United States, the liquid gold went for a total of 18.5-billion dollars in sales in 2017. FIJI Water takes the cake as the number one imported bottled water brand in the U.S.
Given this level of popularity, it may surprise you to hear that FIJI is one of the most expensive bottled waters on the mainstream market. A 24-pack of identically sized bottles of Aquafina water from PepsiCo costs about $15 less than FIJI Water, on average.
Why is FIJI Water so expensive? First, we will explore how a bottle of FIJI Water is made. Then, we will examine the reasons for the price disparity between the imported water known as “Earth’s Finest Water” and the rest of the bottled water crowd.
The Life of a Bottle of FIJI Water
Starting with the life cycle of FIJI Water will help explain a lot of why it costs so much at its endpoint. Each bottle starts high in the clouds hovering above Fiji as water vapor.
What goes up must come down. Fijian rain is known to be purified by the trade winds that blow over Fiji, called the Equatorial Trade Winds. The rain falls amongst the tropical trees and ancient volcanoes surrounding the rainforests of the Fijian island Viti Levu.
Those dormant volcanoes and their porous volcanic rock play a major role in the filtration process that keeps FIJI Water clean and naturally filtered. As the water moves over and through the rock, it absorbs edible minerals like silica. FIJI suggests that natural electrolytes enter the water at this point, as well.
The water finally funnels into the well-known artesian aquifer that holds FIJI Water in a protected space beneath the surface of the Yaqara Valley. An artesian well pulls the water directly into the bottling process, a prideful point for FIJI Water. Their tagline describing their process says it all, “Bottled at the source, untouched by man.”
As we have seen, FIJI Water does indeed go through a complicated life cycle. The example of Aquafina is a great comparison beyond price. Aquafina bottled water comes from local municipal taps, proceeds through a filtration process that uses reverse osmosis, UV light, ozone treatment, and charcoal.
Explaining the Price
We have seen the complicated, yet natural, process FIJI Water goes through before being put in its bottles. The natural purification is great and all but is that really what makes FIJI Water so expensive? Not necessarily.
There are many other reasons to explain how FIJI water can be four times the price of the economy brands of bottled water. Here are the top five reasons why FIJI Water is so expensive.
1. The Complicated Life Cycle
As we covered earlier, FIJI Water has a unique life cycle. The cycle does not stop once the water enters the bottle, however.
A bottle of FIJI Water must travel significant distances after being bottled at the source. FIJI is located in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. It is said to be over 1,600 miles from the nearest industrialized country.
The distance a bottle of FIJI Water travels easily drives the price point up. It must be placed on ships and, in the case of the United States, travels over 5,500 miles to then be put on trucks for further distribution.
Shipping may not sound like an expensive proposition but it is. For every liter of FIJI Water placed on the ship, .02 gallons of diesel fuel is required. While that seems like a small number, once multiplied by the hundreds of millions of FIJI Water being shipped each year it grows to millions of gallons of fuel.
Transportation is a surprising major driver of the cost of FIJI Water.
2. The Bottle
FIJI Water may be better known for its uniquely shaped bottle more than its taste. The bottles are constructed from a plastic resin called Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). This is great news as PET plastics are durable and can be recycled almost everywhere.
The bottle blanks, which are turned into the appropriate shape in the plant in Fiji, are made in the United States and sent on a boat to Fiji. What is a bottle without its cap? The classic blue caps are made in Taiwan and delivered to Fiji by ship, as well.
FIJI Water labels are almost as iconic as the bottle shape itself. The labels are printed in New Zealand and shipped off to meet the bottles and caps in Fiji. Now that all the components have finally arrived, FIJI Water can be bottled.
The bottle is a powerful marketing and brand recognition tool but adds to the overall cost of FIJI Water.
3. The Bottling Process
The more you learn about FIJI Water, the more you understand how much goes into each bottle. FIJI Water prides itself on its “untouched by man” method of bottling. This unique process is both complex and expensive.
The system is comprised of specialized pumping equipment known as a “closed system.” Thus, consumers are getting the first above-ground whiff of FIJI Water when they open the bottle.
The unique, truly unadulterated bottling process is costly and passes on some cost to the consumer.
4. Marketing Strategies
The FIJI Water brand has grown to unthinkable heights for a product that was still fledgling in the early 2000s. The bottled water sector is notoriously hard to succeed in, but FIJI Water has built upon the blueprint laid earlier by Evian.
FIJI Water is often found in places of luxury like high-end hotels, restaurants, and resorts. The founder of FIJI Water fast-tracked its “luxurious” feel by inviting high-profile guests to come to stay at a resort on the island. Of course, FIJI Water was the only water available and quickly became associated with opulence.
This marketing strategy can fail once relevance disappears. However, over its decades-long lifespan, FIJI Water has managed to grab back attention from the claws of time. For example, a recent partnership with the popular workout gym SoulCycle guarantees FIJI Water and its new Sports Cap Bottle will be thrust in front of active water drinkers around the world.
The high-end perception FIJI has created for itself leads to an ability to charge higher prices. Consumers are willing to pay for the association with luxury.
5. Distribution Control
Along with the presence of FIJI Water in high-end places, its absence in other spots may be just as impactful. Again, as bottled water is a difficult market to corner from a profits perspective, its controlled distribution strategy may seem counterintuitive.
Early in its infancy, FIJI Water was hard to keep on shelves to the point of people having to search for it. This drove a supply-and-demand scenario that also popularized the brand as “exclusive”.
FIJI Water has used both popularity and exclusivity to drive a perception of quality, which leads customers to be willing to pay for the commodity.
Is the Price Right?
This is a question that FIJI Water fans must answer for themselves. The brand has done an excellent job at positioning itself as a superior product, both from a quality and marketing standpoint.
The question for you is, do you think the price is right?