With consumption of bottled water now outpacing carbonated soft drinks, a new study by UConn researchers shows college students buy bottled water based on marketing promotional messages that can be misleading about the quality of bottled water compared to tap water.
The study, published in the journal Communication Research Reports by communication doctoral student Xiaowen Xu, the principal researcher, and Carolyn A. Lin, professor of communication, reviewed prior research about planned behavior, peer influences, the benefits of drinking bottled water, and purchase intentions, and found through additional research that all of those factors are significantly related to the decision of college students to buy bottled water.
“We did a quantitative study and a focus group to see how people formed these ideas about bottled water,” says Xu. “It was from advertising, marketing materials, and other information sources. Usually advertisers package the product as pure or from natural sources. They package it like an energy or athletic product, so all those things would contribute to how students look at it. Through all of our research, we find most of the misconceptions actually come from advertisements and other promotional material.”