Sunday, 9 August 2015

Selling Value Coals to Newcastle, Ice to the Eskimos (Inuit / Yupik) and Water to Belfast folk.

In selling we need to be aware of the different aspects of value of a product or service:-

The value of something is defined as its merit, worth, usefulness, use, utility, practicality, advantage, desirability, benefit, gain, profit, good, service, help...
Perhaps because water is plentiful in the UK we don’t value it until there is a crisis. 

Most of the time we see water as the most basic of commodities yet some might think it unnecessary that it has to be "sold". The public supply of treated water is sold on its rational motivation of safety and security, on cost through the water rates and its uses from drinking, washing etc. ( utility) 

Last Friday during routine tests, United Utilities,  found traces of the parasite cryptosporidium  which can cause stomach upsets, at the Franklaw water treatment works outside Preston.

Public Health England said there was "no reason" to resort to bottled water amid reports shops were selling out. There has been some panic in the areas effected clearing supermarket shelves of bottled water.

More than 300,000 households including the towns Blackpool and Preston have been told to boil drinking water.

Chief scientific officer Martin Padley said: "The plant that's affected delivers 140 million litres of water a day and it'll take some time for all that water to flush through the system."

Specsavers, Farnham
 "Proudly Supporting the Community"
bottles of water supplied by CoolerWater

Meanwhile elsewhere in the UK, water is  given out free as a promotion. 

Specsavers the high street opticians, are running a PR campaign "Proudly supports the community". Specsavers supplier is the Traded Brand promotional water company Cooler Water.
 Paying for Drinking-water, in the UK now is as much an emotional purchase as a rational one. We buy bottled water for reasons of personal taste  and pleasure( fizzy or still), as a status symbol to show our sophistication, express our loyalty to a brand , sentiment of summer holiday spent abroad perhaps, fear that tap water has nasties in it or added fluoride etc,

In my local Sainsbury supermarket I can pay a little for mineral water whether straight / sparkling from 20 p per litre from the Sainsbury Basics range to £1.20 for the Brand names. These waters are sourced from Scotland- Highland Spring, Derbyshire- Buxton , from la belle France with brands  such as Perrier, Badoit, Volvic,  and the 'water of choice' for Wimbledon this year, Evian.

Dasani Water brand still strong in the States
Marketing water is not without its challenges .
Coca Cola’s Dasani water brand was withdrawn in UK. Memories of the episode of the classic TV comedy hit “Only Fools and horses” where likeable spiv Del Trotter launched Chateau Peckham - illegally drawing of mains water and bottling it.

Do we value water ?

The CEO of Nestlé , Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, received considerable adverse publicity for a remark a couple of years ago when he appeared to challenge the human 'right' to water. 

His remarks were allegedly  taken out of context. His initial statements have now been revised.

"I am the first one to say water is a human right. This human right is the five litres of water we need for our daily hydration and the 25 litres we need for minimum hygiene. "

"This amount of water is the primary responsibility of every government to make available to every citizen of this world, but this amount of water accounts for 1.5% of the total water which is for all human usage."

"Where I have an issue is that the 98.5% of the water we are using, which is for everything else, is not a human right and because we treat it as one, we are using it in an irresponsible manner, although it is the most precious resource we have.


 Because we don't want to give any value to this water. And we know very well that if something doesn't have a value, it's human behaviour that we use it in an irresponsible manner."

Well, a story a couple of weeks ago put a very high value on water. It may support Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe's provocative view.

The Merchant hotel, Belfast achieved considerable PR exposure on launching to its clientèle a new water menu.  Gone are the ‘old skool’ paltry  offering of still or fizzy , now the hotel are offering a list of 13 different  waters sourced from around the world.   

The prices range from £4.95 - £25+

Of course many of us might well feel that a fiver for a litre of bottled drinking water is pretty steep ! £25 might be what we are prepared to pay for a bottle of champers .

 Perhaps this water menu is being used a situational price conditioner.

When in such a restaurant and you see a local brand of premier cru water, at say £4.00 for a litre bottle we think it a bargain because the separate water menu has such a price of £4.95 as the lowest end of their range.

Adding value to water - facts , benefits and personalising

Apparently the Merchant Hotel's, “discerning consumers are also increasingly demanding a wider choice of waters.” 

The 5 star Hotel's general manager Gavin Carroll said:  “Just like wine, the location where water is produced will impact on its taste and flavour. “

“The ethos behind the new water menu is to allow our guests to have the chance and choice to curate their own bespoke food and beverage experience. 

 Few would be aware that a water menu had a 'philosophy' or an 'ethos'. Perhaps the vocabulary is hyped up but customers like a range to select from.

 Clearly you can get a free glass of water from your local Nero coffee shop but the Merchant hotel, Belfast , I would imagine is selling a 'luxury experience.'

"Our ‘water butlers’ can help customers decide on the type water that will best complement the food and wine they choose, to enable them to experience the perfect taste journey.”  I thought the ‘journey’ lingo had gone out of fashion but having a meal can still be described as a taste journey.

“The brands featured on our new menu are some of the world’s best and have been sourced from a range of global locations including glaciers, tropical islands and mountains.”

“Of course, we know these luxury waters won’t be to everyone’s taste and new menu will be offered as an additional option to our current water menu that includes local Irish brands and for those that don’t want to splash out on water, we can still offer a glass of ‘Belfast water’, free of charge.

Value from a selling perspective is much about understanding and satisfying different points of view.

A story goes that there was tour given round Slough sewage works to some visiting water engineers. The works at Slough are one of largest water treatment works in Europe. It handles thousands of  gallons of water per day for its customers. It consists of all sorts of settling tanks and chemical applications and filters etc. 
The finish of the tour consisted of the guide summarising his talk by raising a glass filled from the final filtration tank. At the close of his presentation for the tour he would raise the glass as if to toast the assembled visitors with the final lines:

“Ladies and Gentleman before I drink this glass of water, may I remind you 8 people have drunk this water from Oxford here to Slough before me. It may be all P*** and S*** to you, but it is my bread and butter!”

Good dining and drinking folks , and enjoy  going out for a nice meal over the weekend or as the Merchant Hotel Belfast might say a “chance and choice to curate your own bespoke food and beverage experience” whether in a five star hotel or restaurant chain site.

Spare a thought for the poor folk in Lancashire currently who are having to boil their water for safety reasons and those at United Utilities sorting out the problem.

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