The bottled water market in China is super profitable

China’s Bottled Water market is growing fast

Bottled water consumption in China is growing in numbers. According to Statista market research, revenue in the Bottled Water segment amounts to US$53,337m in 2020. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.7% (CAGR 2020-2025).

Consumption of bottled water is high in countries with problematic water supplies. The growing awareness of health problems and the prevention of waterborne diseases among Chinese consumers has led to the continued growth of the sale of bottled drinking water in China.

As Chinese consumers are more sensitive to food and beverages, bottled water is now a common daily drink for seniors and young people in China. More and more Chinese consumers are adopting a more active and healthier lifestyle. Nowadays, most Chinese consumers consider bottled water the best health drink among other alternatives.

Market insiders indicate that bottled drinking water businesses will continue to grow in China in the future.

China’s Bottled Water market trends

1- Bottled water became the best beverage in China

Concern for health is the main reason bottled water has become a popular drink in China. Indeed, Chinese consumers today are more sensitive to what is put in their mouths, as a result, consumers are gradually increasing their consumption of high-end bottled water.

China has fewer water resources, and even among those limited water resources, quality drinking water is much lower than required, the demand for quality drinking water is the main concern for both consumers and the Chinese government.

Consumers take contamination very seriously due to multiple events in the past. For example, in early 2013, 7,500 rotten pig carcasses were found floating in the Huangpu River. The event attracted the attention of the media and people, as the river supplies 80% of Shanghai’s tap water. Although the authorities have ensured the quality of the city’s drinking water, residents have remained concerned about the safety of the water, and many of them have stopped drinking tap water and are buying bottled water instead.

2 – Imported bottled water is in great demand

Faced with the challenge of quality drinking water shortage in China, an alternative way to find a solution is to import bottled water from foreign countries internationally. Therefore, the emerging Chinese bottled drinking water market has attracted the attention of many manufacturing companies.

Imported bottled water, like other imported drinks and food products, has a better reputation in China and has attracted middle-class consumers. With such promising demand in the Chinese market, bottled water consumption in China has shown abundant opportunities for international bottled water suppliers. Today, both existing and new manufacturers intend to enter the high-end segment by introducing new products.

What are the leading brands in the bottled water sector in China?

There are no fixed best-bottled water brands in China as they change from year to year based on consumer preferences. In China, mineral water represents 91% of the bottled water market, while sparkling water has a share of 7% and flavored waters 2%.

Although there are no fixed brands, the local Nongfu Spring appears to continue to lead China’s bottled water through product innovation and channel optimization.

Other popular brands of bottled mineral water in China are:

  • Ganten,
  • Blue Sword,
  • Evergrande Spring
  • Tibet 5100,
  • Waiakea,
  • Fiji Water,
  • Perrier,
  • Voss,
  • Evian,
  • Smartwater,
  • Volvic,
  • Hilton,
  • Icelandic Glacial,
  • Ferrarelle,
  • Indigo H2O,
  • Acqua Panna,
  • Veen,
  • Mountain Valley Spring,
  • Dasani.

How can brands in the bottled water industry increase sales in China?

Even if water appears as a simple good and essential one of daily life, don’t forget that Chinese people don’t trust brands and products they don’t know and care a lot about the aspect of the products they purchase. Therefore, Branding and e-reputation are essential in the Chinese market.

In today’s digital age, digital channels play an important role in branding and reputation in China. Even the biggest companies and brands are using social media to reach their consumers.

Social media to communicate with Chinese consumers

Chinese people are very connected online and the impact that social networks have on their lives, offers you the advantage of promoting interaction and proximity to the Chinese consumer, consequently, marketing and communication play a prominent role in the success of a brand of bottled water in China market.

Social media have the advantage to promote and interact with Chinese consumers in a way closer. Companies move away from the overly commercial image and can better get people’s attention.

Brands should have an account on Chinese social media to reach Chinese consumers. The most used social media are Wechat, Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and others.

The competition is quite huge in China, to make a difference from your competitors you have to be smarter.

For example, the brand’s social responsibility is important in the bottled water industry. Nongfu Spring, Nestlé, and Coca-Cola associate their branding with social responsibility. Their marketing strategy is turning the consumer to perceive water as a safer alternative, and as a result, has bolstered their sales as consumers’ growing worries about risks of contamination continue to rise.

Australian water brand Balance on RED China
Australian water brand Balance on RED

KOLs and KOCs collaborate to boost sales on Social Media

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) is the most efficient way to market a brand in China. Chinese consumers, as mentioned earlier, tend not to trust brands they don’t know, so they rely on advice given by trusted people to buy products.

Influencers are considered reliable and therefore allow companies to quickly increase their sales. In addition, thanks to their followers they can bring you, new clients.

As you can see in the picture below, Acqua Panna, Nongfu Spring, and Evian are using Wechat to communicate with Chinese consumers.

Increase your visibility by optimizing your website through Baidu SEO & SEM

Chinese people are known to make a lot of research online. Baidu is the first search engine in China, you can find all kinds of the question here, like google in the West. Anyway, being well-positioned in the Chinese internet sphere is very needed if you want to develop your visibility among consumers.

It is also about a question of trust, the more easily your target consumers can find your brand and information on it, the more they will be reassured.

Baidu SEO & SEM help you to increase brand visibility in the Chinese market. Step number one of Baidu: To rank, your website needs to be hosted in China, get an ICP license, and be in Mandarin. Baidu knows only Mandarin and gives priority to websites hosted in China. The website culture is different, therefore you need to adapt your content/design to the local’s expectations.

Baidu Seo Balance Australian Water

In addition, Backlinks & PR are still some of the most cost-efficient solutions when it comes to building your e-reputation in China and at the same time boosting your website ranking on Baidu. To drive traffic to your landing pages, you should also invest in forums and Q&A to create a community around your company.

Bottled water sales channels in China

In China’s non-alcoholic beverage market, 2.4% of the total revenue will be generated through online sales by 2021. However, offline sales still occupy the key sales, statistics indicate that offline sales were 98.5% in 2017, 98.3% in 2018, 98.0% in 2019, and 97.8% in 2020, and are predicted to be 97.6% by 2021. There is a gradual dipping in offline sales and the reason is the growing e-commerce and cross-border e-commerce as a way to sell these products.

Chinese consumers are also more willing to purchase online because of the convenience and the greater range of available items on e-commerce platforms. Since Chinese consumers are interested in foreign bottled water, e-commerce platforms have become the channels of choice for Chinese shoppers looking to purchase such items.

The most used e-commerce platforms to sell bottled water in China are Tmall and

You can also read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China

GMA is also an Agency

gma agency

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency that is an expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China. We can help your brand increase sales in China, thanks to our services:

  • Advertising
  • Baidu SEO&SEM
  • Social Media
  • PR
  • KOL & Influencers
  • E-commerce and cross-border e-commerce
  • Distribution

Contact us to discuss it further!

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