by Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor

As the pages of the magazine spot-light different aspects of the ever-growing bottled water industry, we decided it was time to take a look at how major organizations are presenting bottled water issues online.

From a wealth of information geared toward consumers to industry data that bottlers and suppliers will find critical, much of the content we discovered can only be found on the web.

Whether you’re a bottler or a dealer, odds are you’ve visited at least one of the websites listed herein. Take another look. You might be surprised by just how much information is out there to help educate your consumers.

Don’t miss the new websites, like http://Finewaters.com, where you will find information that can be used to promote your water, explore new marketplaces and, if nothing else, entertain you.

http://www.bottledwater.org
The International Bottled Water Association has clearly positioned itself as the definitive online resource for bottlers, suppliers and consumers through their Internet presence.

Easily navigable and visually appealing, the IBWA website features an endless array of consumer-driven information that is both easy to understand and provides insight into the health benefits of bottled water. From the homepage, viewers can click on Bottled Water Facts to get information on everything from comparing taste the taste of tap water to an overview of international regulations for the industry. Consumers new to bottled water or thinking about making the switch from drinking from the tap would be well served by reading the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, which provides basic information about bottled water safety, cryptosporidium issues and a variety of other subtle endorsements for the industry.

For the more advanced viewer, the website has a comprehensive news section that keeps tabs on the functions of the IBWA and its member companies, and the remainder of the water purification industry as well. A similarly comprehensive calendar provides information on trade shows and conferences for a variety of bottled water associations. The only drawback of the calendar section is that it appears to be updated at the beginning of each year so events that have come and gone through October 2004 have not been removed.

For bottlers and distributors, the site is the gateway to the IBWA’s online services for its members. This portion, which can only be accessed by current members, provides even more helpful specific member news, links and outlines a variety of programs provided through the association, reinforcing why, if you are not a member of the IBWA, you should be.

http://www.bottledwaterweb.com
What differentiates this website from the IBWA offering is the focus. While the IBWA provides a variety of general information for consumers, Bottled Water Web almost exclusively caters to industry professionals, combining a variety of useful pages that include an industry calendar of events, marketing and advertising tips, research articles and much more.

Like other large bottled water websites, Bottled Water Web offers thorough water analysis and company profiles of dozens of bottlers and suppliers in the United States. Unlike finewaters.com (reviewed below), Bottled Water Web does not venture out into the international marketplace, but what it lacks in international content it more than makes up for in unique features that are notably absent from other comparable sites – like the website’s job search function. By clicking on the Career Center button on the left hand side of the homepage, viewers can see employment listings for government, utilities, private businesses and research-related positions. This type of job search is notably lacking from other water-related websites and is more on-point for job seekers than simply search “water” on careerbuild.com or monster.com.

Another unique feature of the site is the Shopping toolbar. Industry professionals can find research material on bottled water, including videos and reference books, as well as bottled water novelty items and links to other companies which offer custom labeling and other unique products and service for sale.

http://www.finewaters.com
Every once in a while a website appears that despite an informative and well-designed concept, comes to be known simply because of its one-of-kind content. They are the sites we tell our friends about and forward to our coworkers. Fine Waters appears poised to be that type of site for bottled water drinkers and bottlers alike.

A simple layout directs viewers from the homepage to a variety of topics including bottled water news, a listing of international distributors and bottlers, and a variety of other information.

So you thought water was just a drink? Think again. It’s a lifestyle choice.

That’s the motto at Fine Waters and the site never shies away from presenting the bottled water industry as a source of ultra-chic products for ultra-chic consumers. Where it truly shines is in its presentation of the vast array of luxury bottled water products and services. At the click of a button, viewers can get indexes, photos and reviews of high-end bottled water produced and sold in every country on the globe. Additional links provide reports from chefs and water connoisseurs on a host of water-related topics, such as:

  • Identifying the right temperature for drinking water with certain meals;
  • The importance of bubble size in effervescent water;
  • Enhancing chocolate with the right bottled water;
  • Selecting stemware based on the type of water you are serving.

While on the surface, the website appears to be fun diversion for many consumers and a welcome resource for those in the upper-echelon that can afford the luxury items, Finewaters.com also has a wealth of information for bottlers and distributors of all types of water. Under the Bottled Water Resources button, dealers and manufacturers can find reports on marketing bottled water products, advertising through unique bottle designs and links to national and international regulations for the production and sale of bottled water.

Conclusion:
The bottled water industry has its bases covered when it comes to providing information to consumers and manufacturers alike online. While there is a lot of overlapping information on larger bottled water websites, each provides its own unique content that makes it attractive to viewers in every part of the industry.

For an industry as large, and growing as quickly, as the international bottled water market, it would be impossible to expect any one website to be all-encompassing. But take these three together and there’s very little information you’ll be missing.

Whether you’re looking for industry-specific information, or interested in seeing the staggering array of bottled water products available worldwide, these websites are sure to please.

http://www.bottledwater.org
The official website of the International Bottled Water Association, www.bottledwater.org is a comprehensive overview of all things related to the bottled water industry. From consumer-focus topics, like how much water to drink each day, to industry specific items, such as trade show information, the IBWA website has something for everyone.
http://www.bottledwaterweb.com
Like the IBWA, this website is a comprehensive overview of the bottled water industry that provides a wealth of information for everyone from bottlers and supply companies to their consumers. Founded by a bottled water consultant, the website also includes a detailed listing of links to bottled water company sites that is missing from the other sites reviewed herein.
http://www.finewaters.com
While the site gives an overview of bottled water companies around the globe, water news and fact sheets, the real gem on this site is the comprehensive listing of high-end waters available in every country. Simply perusing the bottles, the names, the unique tastes and array of available water goblets makes any bottled water drinker feel like the nouveaux riches.
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