Here’s Why Water Bottle Brands Are Priced So Differently

Why are brands like Dasani and Aquafina so much cheaper than Fiji or Essentia? Read on to find out why prices vary so much on bottled water.

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Have you ever opened up the water case at a convenience store and noticed how differently all of the brands are priced while pondering which one to choose? Do you settle of a cheap bottle of Aquafina or spring for the Smartwater? If water is just water then why do different brands charge such different amounts for essentially the same product? Well, it turns out, it’s a little more complicated than “water just being water” and the main reason the prices vary so much doesn’t even have to do with the liquid inside the container. This is the safest bottled water you can buy.

Bottled water versus tap water

Compared to your monthly tap water bill, bottled water is insanely more expensive. According to The Atlantic, if a family used bottled water instead of tap water to drink, shower with, wash dishes with, and flush down the toilet, their monthly water bill could be as much as $9,000. So what’s the main difference between tap water and bottled water? The bottle. Here’s more on the difference between bottled water and tap water.

Why is bottled water so expensive?

“Bottled water brand prices fluctuate depending on quality, packaging, and distribution. One specific driver of the price of any brand is the packaging,” says Jane Prior, CMO at Vita Coco. A lot more goes into making, marketing, and transporting bottled water than you may realize, and all of that costs money. If you’re curious, this is why bottled water had an expiration date.

Why do different brands charge such different amounts?

When you choose to buy a more expensive brand of water such as Fiji or Voss you’re not really paying for the actual water, but more so for the label. Water bottle companies have to work hard to stand out among a crowded market and to get people to buy something that they could turn on their faucet and get for free. They might spend a lot on a fancy advertising campaign or to bring on a celebrity spokesperson to promote their brand which hikes up the price that you’re going to pay for it.

Another reason some brands are marked up is because of the process in which the water is filtered and the additives the brand puts in. “Quality of water also plays a major role in the price of any water brand,” says Prior. “As a premium water brand, Ever & Ever comes from renewable sources, undergoes a reverse osmosis purification process, and has added electrolytes for taste.” Other premium brands, like Essentia, have a similar process. They use ionized alkaline water with added electrolytes for better hydration and a smoother taste.

All water bottle brands in the United States have to meet the FDA’s requirements for bottled water, but some brands go above and beyond to offer customers something they might not get in a different brand. Whether that’s a fancy bottle, added electrolytes, or a healthier pH level it’s going to cost more.

Aquafina, a cheaper brand of bottled water, got a lot of negative press in 2007 when PepsiCo’s CEO admitted that Aquafina was basically bottled tap water. After that, the company was required to label their bottles “P.W.S” meaning that it comes from a public water source. Other brands come from private or deep well sources. That being said, cheaper brands of bottled water aren’t necessarily bad for your health, they just don’t have the additives expensive brands do. So if you want to save a dollar or two, don’t feel bad going with a basic brand. If you want to splurge on something more expensive, like Alkaline water, first learn about what it really does to your body.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.