‘Holy’ water the new beverage trend

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th May 2008

The Spiritual Water brand, which provides water with 10 different Christian labels, has so far proven a hit in the US. The success of the brand can be attributed to adding something different to a simple product and continues, in an unorthodox way, the growing trend of companies finding ways to differentiate their bottled water products.

The 10 different bottles of Spiritual Water are adorned with artwork of religious figures and symbols including Jesus, his mother Mary and the Cross. Each bottle also has a prayer on the label with, for example, the bottle adorned with artwork of Mary having the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer printed in English and Spanish on the back.
The launch of the products late last year was, not surprisingly, met with concern from certain religious groups and much media attention. The main issue religious groups appear to have with the product is not the brand names (such as ‘Formula J’) but the fact that it is bottled water. “Water is life,” says Sister Mary Zirbes, a nun in the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, according to Newsweek. “It really should not be a commodity to be bought.” There has also been concerns over the potential for it to take advantage of consumers

The company, created by two Florida-based businessmen, claims the brand is not exploiting consumers. “We are trying to connect people with God, not take advantage of people,” the company’s owners have said while adding that 10 cents from every bottle sold will be donated to charity. They also maintain that because of the powerful images adorning their products they were more likely to be kept by consumers, resulting in less potential environmental waste.

Spiritual Water are among a host of companies employing a religious link to their products with candy, t-shirts and candles among other items to receive religious branding in the US. Another company, Holy Drinking Water, provides bottled water which has been blessed by a Catholic priest.

With the link between Christianity and water very clear the success of the product is not surprising. However, is it one step too far in the search for product differentiation?