The Reason Smartwater Is So Expensive

The hefty price tag of Coca-Cola's Glaceau Smartwater might lead you to believe it's better than other waters, plus they also have well-known stars like Jennifer Aniston and Kylie Minogue helping to convince the public of just that. According to BevNET, Smartwater raked in over $1 billion in annual sales in 2015, and is Coca-Cola's most profitable water brand, so they obviously have the money for a hefty advertising budget.

But exactly how were they able to make this much money on water? Well, there's a few reasons: According to water metering company Arad Group, the average cost for a gallon of bottled water in the U.S. as of 2017 was $1.22, making it 300 times the price of tap water, and as Smartwater's prices are higher than other bottles, they're likely above that average. Smartwater explains on its website that part of its price tag is due to the added electrolytes, which are ionized minerals, and also claims to have pH levels that are purely balanced in their vapor-distilled water. All these buzzwords tell our brains that the higher price tag is warranted, but is it really?

Is there a difference between bottled water and tap water?

According to most experts there is not much difference between bottled water and regular tap water. According to Vice, tap water is consistently getting cleaner in the developed world, however, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan understandably did damage to the public's confidence in the quality of U.S. tap water, and this worry has led to big business for bottled water companies like Smartwater.

To receive "smart water" status, the water is evaporated to remove impurities and naturally occurring minerals. It is then remineralized with electrolytes and filtered twice. However, Dietician Rebecca McManamon told the Daily Mail that there is no actual benefit in demineralizing water. "The term smartwater implies it is either intelligent to drink it or it makes you more intelligent, although that is not an explicit claim made by Coca-Cola," she said. "But there is no indication it is wiser to drink this water."

Coca-Cola says what makes Glaceau different is the electrolytes that make it taste different from other types of water, but states there's no actual health benefits. Professor of Nutrition at Glasgow University, Mike Lean, told the Daily Mail that type of language can be confusing for consumers because electrolytes sound scientific. "Some people who don't have medical or scientific training imagine that with all that scientific-looking stuff the product must be beneficial," said Lean. "But it does nothing at all for health."

Overall, the main reason bottled water is so expensive is because consumers are willing to pay the price, perhaps even more so when the word "smart" is thrown on the bottle. And as sales continue to rise steadily, there is no reason for companies to lower the cost.