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This new company in Melbourne has set out to disrupt the $600 million bottled water industry in Australia. Will they pull it off?


Bottled water has rapidly become a popular commodity, a fashion statement even.

The Australasian Bottled Water Institute estimates that the industry is worth about $600 million a year in Australia alone. This translates to approximately 600 megalitres of water, of which 60 per cent is sold in single-serve bottles.

Furthermore, the industry is growing at eight per cent annually so we haven’t seen the best of it yet.

Now, one company plans to revolutionize this current bottled water industry, as well as its advertising sector. Below is what Marketing Director, Hwi So shared with Anthill about their goal at Free Is Better and the innovative strategy behind it.

With what strategy does Free Is Better plan to pull this off?

With an already overwhelmingly high demand for paid bottled water, being able to offer the same product for free will mean a guaranteed demand for our brand.

We have also set our bottles apart as a prime advertising platform by delivering the advertiser’s message in a clutter-free manner. We exclusively display only one ad per bottle, hence catching the viewer’s full attention.

Keep in mind that the average dwell time of bottle ads is 60 minutes, compared to magazine ads and digital ads which according to the Condé Nast research, verified by YouGov, average 1.22 minutes and 1.16 minutes respectively.

How did Free Is Better come up with this strategy?

Over the past year, we have been experimenting with different distribution models such as distributing through train stations, shopping centres and one-off events.

However, after a bit of trial and error with each one, we found that the free magazine distribution model used by the likes of Vice and Beat magazine would work best for us.

We took the skeleton of this model and adapted it to fit our business.

Targeting places where we know our audience frequents, and places we like to shop or hang out at ourselves to stock our water, we are able to capture a niche audience of youthful trendsetters that is typically hard to reach for advertisers.

By taking the path of least resistance and working with businesses that don’t conventionally sell bottled water to begin with, we are saving consumers the trouble of having to look for a convenience store or grocery store to grab a bottle of drinking water.

We are confident that with this distribution model, we will be able to change the notion that bottled water is something you should pay for, hence revolutionising the entire industry.

How does Free Is Better plan to execute this strategy?

Free Is Better is stocked at shop fronts where their followers shop, eat, lounge and frequent. Essentially, the bottles appear in places where consumers are already in a purchasing state of mind, leaving a window of opportunity for advertisers to reach the consumer.

We have been working on this model for the past five months and we are just ready now to launch it. The static distribution for the bottles will officially commence on June 9th, 2014, with partnered stockists emerging all over Australia.

We anticipate a bit of trial and error and problem solving in the first few months to come but believe if we iron out the creases and focus on the growth of our distribution, we will achieve our goal of revolutionising both the bottled water and advertising industries.