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PepsiCo set to debut 'designer' bottled water

PepsiCo Water

NEW YORK (AP) - If you're willing to pay a little extra for trendy bottled water, there's Evian, Smartwater and Fiji. Now, PepsiCo wants to throw "Qua" into the mix.

The world's No. 2 beverage company plans to gauge response to its first premium bottled water brand at the Golden Globes this weekend. The bottles will be passed out on the red carpet and placed on tables at the show, a way for the company to introduce it to the Hollywood types who appeal to its target audience.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman noted that the company is still working out the kinks and that the name and design for Qua may change before it's rolled out more broadly.

Aside from their higher prices, what exactly sets a premium water brand apart varies. But the superficial factor is high: they usually come in stylish bottles. The water's sourcing or filtering may also be touted on labels.

As with Coca-Cola's Smartwater, Qua is made with tap water. The brand, which PepsiCo says is "micro-filtered" and free of sodium, is slated to be tested regionally in California this summer before expanding to other markets.

Bottled waters have surged in popularity over the years and represent an important opportunity for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, which are struggling to sell more soda. Since hitting a peak in 1998, U.S. soda consumption has been on a downward trend, and declines have accelerated in recent years.

The problem with run-of-the-mill bottled waters, however, is that people tend to just buy whatever's cheapest. Coke's Dasani and Pepsi's Aquafina, for example, don't exactly have sexy images that make people willing to pay more for them. So the companies are focusing on brands they can market as being premium, thus commanding higher prices.

PepsiCo, which is based in Purchase, N.Y., says it hasn't yet determined pricing for the 1 liter bottles. But competing brands can sell for $2 a bottle or more.

The company's entry into the premium water segment comes well after rival Coca-Cola bought Smartwater in 2007. For the first half of last year, Smartwater's sales volume rose 16 percent, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest.

"Coke's Smartwater is growing very strongly and is becoming a real asset to Coke and its bottlers," said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest.

The publication had reported this summer on PepsiCo's plans to enter the premium water category, noting that the drink would likely be called "Om." After some consumer testing, PepsiCo says it decided to drop that name in favor of Qua (as in a shortened version of the word "aqua").

Meanwhile, local government officials, including those in New York City, have touted the benefits of tap water as being free, safe and less harmful to the environment.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
lbreamer January 11 2014 at 9:31 AM

I don't pay for "premium bottled waters" & even though I am a Pepsi fan, I probably won't buy this. As for the name? No. Fail.

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juldeschenes January 11 2014 at 8:59 AM

The bottle design does not make me choose one over the other. Another filtered tap water, no thank you. If I am to pay, it has to be spring water, or sparkling water. Before it was bought out, Naya from Canada was the best tasting, followed by Evian. It is sad that some will pay for tap water in a "trendy" bottle. To people who have great tasting water from a well, lucky you.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lthrnck68 January 11 2014 at 7:53 AM

Pepsi should try their clear cola again. Go right along with the no additives/no preserevatives trend of today.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bdgrizcp January 11 2014 at 8:02 AM

Or you could just filter your own tapwater, or try a real spring water, which, I might point out, has actual taste. ZephyrHills is as good as it gets, but at 16 and 2/3 cents per 1/2 liter bottle, hardly upscale.

Here's a brain teaser: a lot has been made about fluoridated water, but is bottled water fluoridated?

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1 reply
Steve bdgrizcp January 11 2014 at 9:13 AM

Most bottled water has no fluoride. BUT, almost ALL tap water filters do not have the ability to remove fluoride. That includes PUR, Brita, etc. The media they use improves the taste but cannot touch fluoride. Fluoride is too powerful.

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richard January 11 2014 at 11:40 AM

West Virginia could use some now.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
HonknDodge January 11 2014 at 8:28 AM

I get my water from my well at home, cost almost $0.00

Flag Reply +6 rate up
adamodempc January 11 2014 at 11:38 AM

Who cares about water DRINK BEER !

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
agressivperfectr adamodempc January 11 2014 at 11:43 AM

Amen! If they made beer, would the call it "EER". I mean "QUA"....really??!?

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1 reply
vinnie agressivperfectr January 11 2014 at 12:46 PM

Qua is actually a word..... in the character or role of (someone or something)

Flag 0 rate up
Steve January 11 2014 at 9:11 AM

As long as our government insists on adding a toxic, industrial version of fluoride to tap water, I'll choose the bottle if i am out and about. DRINKING fluoride is bad for most of your body - toothpaste has more than enough fluoride all by itself.

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3 replies
Fran January 11 2014 at 2:06 PM

Does not address if it is BPA free?

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cobaltmuscle January 11 2014 at 10:21 AM

They would charge for air if it was possible....

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2 replies
strangeland64 cobaltmuscle January 11 2014 at 11:09 AM

Remember...be scared of a Democrat.......because if we could sell sh@t...the democrats would tax our arsehole!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Joe strangeland64 January 11 2014 at 1:20 PM

Double tax if you run it as a business.

Flag +1 rate up
Davis10Oregon1 cobaltmuscle January 11 2014 at 2:56 PM

Try local gasoline stations in many states, you find that too is possible, should you need air in your vehicle's tires .

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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