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I used to have classes at night during my MBA program. Therefore I saw so many students doing the same ritual during the break: buying a bottle of water at the vending machine. It amazed me, as a French, to see that so many people in the US were willing to spend about $1.50 / $2 for a bottle of Aquafina or a bottle of Dasani. Let me explain why.

The water in a bottle of Aquafina or Dasani is purified water (it’s written on the bottle), which means that the water sold $1.50 is basically tap water in a bottle. So basically when buying one of these bottles, you don’t really buy the water, which has no value, or not even one cent, but in fact the packaging. People pay $1.50 for a packaging. Even worse next to the vending machine there were the restrooms and tap water outside, which meant FREE WATER! Furthermore a bottle of water is as much expensive as a bottle of Coke or Pepsi, the colas use the same water as the one contained in a bottle of Dasani but added with sugar and other ingredients. So to me a bottle of Coke has more value than a bottle of tap water and therefore should have a higher price.

So my conclusion is that people definitely buy the packaging. In fact they buy the bottles because of:

  • Comfort: people don’t have to carry a bottle during the day
  • Convenience: it’s easy to find a vending machine everywhere
  • Peace of mind: people feel safe by buying a new bottle, free of any bacteria

For the story, each week during my MBA I used to take an empty bottle of Aquafina and filling it up before the class with the fresh tap water right next to the vending machine. I never got sick and I am still alive today. I know that the argument of the risk of getting sick is a strong argument but I please you to read this article. This article describes the failure of Dasani in the UK and how Dasani by purifying its water got the consumers sick.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/25/uk.dasani/

Loïc Bonnaillie