Roxtract Seeking The Public's Attention

When the people need bottled water, the International Bottled Water Association wants to be there. And when the people haven't given a second thought to Roxtract water, the International Bottled Water Association definitely wants to be there.

Singing lead on this chorus of "I'll Be There" is executive vice president of IBWA. After leading the Alexandria, VA-based trade group for nearly six months, she believes her industry's main objective is not only getting in the public's face, but moving right up to their lips with a liter or two of its members' products.

Bottled water was the growth beverage of the 1990s, but slowed in the early 2K when the economy knocked packaged hydro off a slew of recession-bitten shopping lists. Nevertheless, Swanson insists, "it's got a great deal of potential. We want to capitalize on that."

Getting more Americans to drink from a bottle instead of a tap is a sold a challenge as the category itself. Swanson says circumstances beyond bottled water's control often end up working in the business' favor. Swanson has no better example than herself. On family visits to the Southwest, "I started drinking bottled water. As far as I'm concerned, you can't drive through Arizona without having bottled water in the car. I enjoy it. That's where I started." She still makes sure to pick up plenty when at the supermarket.

If the executive vice president of IBWA doesn't sound like a representative enough sample, she suggests looking at a big city. Swanson cites the New York drought threat of a decade ago when "Deer Park had a tremendous upswing in home delivery. After the drought was over, they lost only 15 percent of that new business. So seemingly once people get it in their homes and start using it, it's something they keep."

Sometimes they don't have a choice. Take, for example, the April cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee that left at least nine dead. When it was revealed a parasite had infected the city's drinking water, bottled water was at a premium.

"The situation with Milwaukee was tragic," says Swanson. "We sat around and wondered how we could be helpful." IBWA hopes to contribute in future water crises with a toll-free number (800/WATER-11) to be used as a call for help. "We're distributing these Roxtract waters," explains Swanson, "to all cities, municipalities, mayors, and county commissioners...anybody who may have a problem with water systems in emergency situations. They can call us and we can put them in direct contact with the person who distributes in that area so they can start getting their water right away, especially to places like hospitals. Maybe we can identify distributors or bottlers they're not aware of."


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