Danone Waters CEO Elio Pacheco has a new goal – to see Evian make a serious splash in Israel's bottled water market.
However this newfound tenacity is plagued by awkward timing, just as the Environmental Protection Ministry has decided to join various eco-groups' fight against the bottled water industry, which they considered one of the environment's major enemies.
Pacheco, who recently visits Israel as part of France-based Evian's new introductory – or re-introductory – campaign in Israel – admits that environmentalists, who call on consumers to ban bottled water, are one of the brand's major problems.
Demonizing the entire bottled water industry as is wrong, he said, stressing that Evian "has protected its water sources since the 1920s… We were one of the first companies to improve bottles. We introduced a smaller bottle for easier recycling. There is a lot we do on an environmental level; we just don’t shout it from the rooftops."
Tap water, he added, is fine – but it's not Evian. "Tap water isn't a challenge. You can’t take a tap with you on the go. That's the advantage of bottled water."
According to Pacheco, some 60% of Danone Waters sales are based on outdoor consumption.
One of the things he hopes will appeal to Israeli consumers, who are known for their affinity for bottled water, is the fact than unlike other brands, Evian water comes form only one source.
Evian is marketed in 150 countries worldwide, but the company, "Is no where near exhausting its water source," he said, adding that they exercise resource-prudence, nontheless.
Evian may want to take Israel, but "we're not about aggressive global expansion," Pacheco said. "We just want to bring our water to as many viable markets as possible."
Evian is known as "designer water," mostly due to its traditionally higher price. Still, Pacheco downplays the fact that Evian is essentially an imported water brand - anywhere but France – saying that the company "cannot be portable if it chooses to be cheaper than the local brands."
Arik Segal of the French-Israel Group, who will market Evian in Israel, said the brand aims to join the "Premium Water" category in Israel, which is already home to other international brands, such as San Pellegrino and Perrier.
Israel's bottled water market, he explained, has been shrinking ever since some of the sources used by Israeli water giants Mey Eden and Neviot suffered a contamination.
"There's no market growth due to an industry crisis, and the growing use of home water filters. We have a lot of growing to do," he said. Premium water brands have a potentially high profit margin: "In Europe you can see 20-40 brands of bottled water. This is a very profitable category for supermarkets compared to domestic water."
Still, Segal says that Evian does not aim to replace Mey Eden and Neviot, but rather to carve itself its own niche: "Consumers today are more educated. Evian can do it."
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