Tastier, healthier, better - but which? Exploring reasons for bottled and for tap water consumption


  • L.J. Debbeler
  • M. Gamp
  • B. Renner


Despite substantial price differences, environmental concerns and rigorously controlled tap water quality in most developed countries, bottled water consumption has been increasing substantially in the last years. Various factors related to this consumption shift have been discussed including quality and health concerns, organoleptics, but also risk perception and worry. In the presented study, we examined how health and risk related concerns as well as hedonic and convenience factors differ between consumer groups in Germany. Consumers of tap (N = 402) versus bottled water (N = 158) took part in an online survey. The two groups did not differ in demographic variables, nor did the pattern of consumption change depending on the situation people were in (home, work/ university, en route). However, both groups differed significantly in perceived risk and worry for bottled and tap water. In addition, paired t-tests showed that both groups rated practicability, price and environment protection in favour for consuming tap water. However, bottled water consumers rated taste, health, quality or hygiene aspects, smell and colour as reasons pointing for bottled water while tap water consumers rated these (except taste) as reasons for tap water. Results indicate marked differences in health-related believes and risk perception aside from differences in perceived benefits and disadvantages of the two water options. Addressing exaggerated health risk and quality concerns associated with tap water appear to be a promising leverage point for interventions targeting sustainable and healthy consumer choices.





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