How Perrier’s Ad Campaign Convinced Americans To Pay For Water

Perrier’s advertising was selling a specific message, and it targeted a specific population: well-to-do baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, as they entered adulthood. It sought to assure them that those who partook of Perrier’s sparkling waters were sophisticated, classy, and conscientious. It conferred, in a word, status.

“It was a sophisticated way to go to a cocktail party and not drink alcohol,” says Gary Hemphill, the director of research at the Beverage Marketing Corporation. Unlike soda, Perrier wasn’t sweetened. It was the non-alcoholic, fizzy drink for adults.

The price of the water reflected that clout. Nevins lowered the price of a 23-ounce bottle from $1.09 ($4.30 today) to 69 cents ($2.72 in 2016 dollars) — within the reach of a certain strata of society, but significant enough that buying it still constituted a statement. It rested in that sweet spot of being simultaneously aspirational and accessible.