FRONT PAGE / POSTS
Chinese Bottled Water
by Vladimir Djurovic| Shanghai, China
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
tags: art & design, asia, categories, clients & brands, global vectors
Effective packaging design is essential for bottled water. Codes such as mountains, lakes, human-like figures, splashes of colour, as well as shapes and lines, can all be seen on water bottle packaging. Using semiotics, the packs can be organized according to their signs into two main poles. On one side is the pole of nature which claims that the water is from a natural source, and on the other side is the pole of industry which stresses that water has to be controlled and transformed to be untainted and healthy.
The pole of nature contains two visions of water: wild water and preserved water. In China, the category of “wild water” includes products like Pepsi-owned Enchant’s (莹纯, yíngchún) purified water, whose blue package has coloured splashes to showcase wild water in movement as a manifestation of life and freedom. The message it conveys through its sign is strength, vitality, and the human being’s fusion with nature.
The category of preserved water is well represented by Aquarius’ (正广和, zhèng guǎng hé) natural mineral water with its mountain and static lines. It represents a nature to contemplate – a source of peace and quietness, a preserved nature, untouched.
In the pole of industry, the two visions of water are controlled water and tamed water.
In the” controlled water” category, shapes and lines are geometric and clean. Wahaha and Masterkong’s mineral waters, have simple blue or red colored geometric figures and lines on their packages. Their industrial-feeling design suggests that their controlled waters are totally safe and clean.
The tamed water category suggests water is adapted for consumer benefit. Nestlé’s Pure Life, for instance, uses more dynamic shapes and human figures to demonstrate its tamed water’s message of happiness, liveliness, and cooperation.
At first glance, it looks like actors exist on all possible dimensions in the bottled water market. You might think that there is no space remaining for product innovation. Yet, we can find empty territory surrounding the concepts of what we call “absolute water” and “harmony water”.
Absolute water is in a league of its own, and uses neither nature-themed nor industry-themed signs. Currently, there are only two players that convey the concept of absolute water in China – Uni-President’s Alkaqua mineral water and the distilled water made by Watson’s. The designs of the bottles are revolutionary and futuristic. Their beyond-nature and beyond-human appearance suggest that their water is extremely pure and transcendent.
Moreover, the big players in the bottled water market have yet to invent a way to combine the nature-theme and the industry-theme together to introduce the harmony between humans, nature and industry to the market.
Based on this analysis, the next steps could include product development around the two concepts: “harmony water” and “absolute water”.
© Vladimir Djurovic 2010