Bottled Water - Price Fixing by Coca Cola Co.?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by cosmichobo, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. cosmichobo macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2006

    I remember as a kid in the early 90's being able to ask for a cup of water at fast food outlets, and not paying a cent... Then along came bottled water en masse - not just the Perrier's - and getting a free cup of water became a thing of the past, as they'd instead sell you a bottle...

    My question is...

    Is the cost of bottled water artificially high, so as to make it less appealing compared to soft drinks? And if so, is Coca Cola Co behind this conspiracy?

    I am sure that when bottled waters really took off, and I am talking plain simple water, no additives etc, the cost was substantially less than a soft drink - perhaps 2/3 the cost or less. And fair enough - why would a bottle of water cost more or the same as a soft drink, which contains water, that has been carbonated, sugar, and other flavours?

    Surely these products could not cost the same in terms of raw materials, production volumes, and advertising... Indeed - when was the last time you saw an ad on the tv for bottled water? How many Coke ads have you seen in the past week?

    Yet, these days especially at particular fast food outlets (ie the majors, McDonalds, KCF, Burger King, etc) buying a bottle of water costs the same as a soft drink does. Most vending machines seem to follow the same trend.

    Looking online, it appears Coca Cola sells at least 1 plain bottled water product in most if not all of their global markets... Diversification... Or an attempt to ensure that they have some control over the cost of bottled water? Because by selling bottled water at prices similar to that of Coca Cola, what will people choose to buy? Plain water... Or sugary addictive goodness?

    Can anyone else recall whether bottled water used to have a lower price tag? Is this phenomena actually localised in Australia? What do you think of this wacky conspiracy theory?

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I still get free water at the restaurants I go to. I think you may be reading too much into Coca-Cola price fixing. There's too much competition. I see no name brands selling for low prices and some name brands going for more.

    Just ask for a glass of water where you go and they'll provide you with one for free.
  3. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Bottled water is pretty much the same price everywhere you buy it
    Not related to Coca Cola
    No conspiracy
  4. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    it just costs a lot to bottle water and transport it around, theres no price fixing going on.

    If you want a glass of water, then ask for a glass of tap water.
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I am in the US and there was a point in time when water was no longer being placed on tables in restaurants freely. This was in California and we were going through a massive drought. Some restaurants had left little notes on the tables indicating the reason why water would not be passed out freely but it was available upon request. Since then, water is rarely given in a variety of restaurants unless requested. When requested, there is absolutely no hesitation from wait staff.

    That said, bottled water has increased in price as has everything over the last couple of decades. Today, there are tons of choices and water prices vary. Smart Water is more expensive per ounce but their gimmick is that there are electrolytes in the water. Depending upon the brand, you can pay quite a bit for water regardless of the bottling company (i.e. Coca-Cola).

    So no, I don't think there is price fixing but in general, I believe water should be readily available and prices should provide a small profit margin for the bottling companies, but nothing more. Wishful thinking, but it is how I see it. We don't all come from places with healthy water sources and bottled is likely the best and safest choice.
  6. JackieInCo Suspended

    Jul 18, 2013
    There was also an investigation several years ago that found out that most bottled water is no different then tap water even though they have some claim listed on the label.

    Also, since Coke owns one of the major water brands, I think the price will always stay inline with that of soft drinks. Pepsi also owns one of the major brands.
  7. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Truth is prices are basically fixed by what people are willing to pay for it
    Not by Coca Cola or anyone else with a conspiracy
  8. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2011
    Yes, strictly speaking, "price-fixing" requires collusion between market players, and in the beverage market, that doesn't seem to happen. Are beverage makers still going to try to get as high a price as possible? Of course. Why do people pay a lot for plain bottled water? I don't know. Not that I've never done it, like a couple of times when I've been out on long rides and used all the water I was carrying. But I'm not sure a forum for Apple users is the best place to wonder why people pay more for things than they really need to.
  9. cosmichobo thread starter macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2006
    In a sit-down restaurant, most places do offer a carafe of water and glasses... But your eatery style place... Or places with bottled water sitting in their fridges waiting for you to buy them... Yes, I haven't asked for some years, but that's because of being told frequently that I had to buy a bottle, rather than get tap water. One of the last times I vividly recall, charged me $0.20 for the paper cup that the water went into...

    I say again, in terms of pricing... how can a bottle of Pump water, which is Coke's Australian brand of plain bottled water, cost the same as a bottle of Coke... Both are in plastic bottles (though I don't see any trademarks on the Pump bottle's design, unlike the Coke bottle), and both are transported around the country. Both contain water - purified water - but one contains additional ingredients, which thus require additional costs to manufacture... Carbonation as well is an added cost, and as noted, advertising must be a massive cost to a bottle of Coke, versus a bottle of Pump...

    Yes, Coca Cola Co can charge what people will pay... But equally, Coca Cola Co can charge what they want to charge... because they are Coca Cola Co... (3rd most powerful brand on the planet, according to Forbes) And if Coca Cola Co is charging $x for their bottled water... Well hey, Pepsi can sell their bottled water at the same price too... (Incidentally... Does Pepsi cost more or less than Coke in your region? What about Schweppes? Or any other soft drink? All the same?)
  10. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    The cup charge is the restaurant being an *******.
  11. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    The total cost of bottled water is actually much closer to that of bottled soda than you might think. On an industrial scale it literally only costs a couple of cents to put flavorings, sweetener, and carbonation into soda. Most of the cost of a bottled (or canned) beverage is in packaging, distribution, and marketing. So the bottle of Coca-Cola that costs the local bottler $0.12 is competing with bottled well-water that costs the bottler $0.08.

    I can think of very few fast-food restaurants, anywhere in the world, that would refuse to provide a customer with a free cup of drinking water.
  12. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Maybe in the "don't drink the water" areas.

    With respect to bottled water, I think it's a case of charging what the market will bear. After all, you can go to the grocery store and buy a case of pop or bottled water and the per-unit cost is somewhere between 10-20 cents, but go to a vending machine and you can expect to pay $1.00; for the same thing. Go to a restaurant and maybe they charge you $1.50; it's $3.00 at the movie theaters and $4.00 at the amusement park. There's no price fixing, just establishments being opportunistic with a captive audience.
  13. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    In the US, many casual and fast food restaurants have customer accessible soda machines and almost all of these have water modes. Usually a tab in between two of the flavored buttons, this dispenses the same water used in the soda but without the syrup. The water used for soda is very high quality, so I've found this to be some of the best tasting water anywhere. The machines are fed by tap water and the soda companies charge for the syrup, so it doesn't cost them much.

    If you go into one of these places in the states and ask for a water, they may hand you a bottle. You ask for a 'water cup' and you usually get a child size cup with clear sides that show others if color liquid has been added. But the real trick is to ask for an ice cup. It's clear that you want to use the machine and haven't asked for anything of traditional value. You just have to see if they have cups suitable to the task (showing soda taken by cheaters) and if the machine has the important tab.
  14. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Id be more worried about them pumping out your own natural resources (ground water) and then selling it back to you with no added benefits. Added to that, during drought we are required to restrict usage, but do you think the bottling companies have the same restrictions? Nope.

    This movie clip may better explain the situation :p:

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