October 15, 2006 Just how do you differentiate a product like bottled water? It’s an important question when you realise that Americans drink more than 25 billion litres of bottled water a year at prices greater than gasoline. Bottled water sales have risen 50% per person in less than a decade, which isn’t bad for a core product that varies little, and is at least a thousand times more expensive than tap water which is readily available as an alternative. In Europe, water is even bigger business – Western Europeans drink more than half the world’s bottled water. The winning answer to the differentiation question in 2006 was to add a magazine to the bottle, but there are thousands of brands out there and some of them are very clever. For all those people for whom only an ostentatious display of wealth will do is Bling H2O. Available in US$40 750ml and US$24 350ml versions, the frosted, corked bottles are emblazoned with hand-applied, Swarovski crystals. Not surprisingly, the newspapers are reporting that the Goddess of conspicuous consumption Paris Hilton “has tasted the water” as has her dog Tinkerbell. (she sure gets a lot of press for a gal that don’t do much). The drink has also shown up at the Grammy's, Emmy's and MTV Video Music Awards in the hands of celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Mariah Carey and Shaquille O'Neal. Bling H2O is the creation of Hollywood writer-producer Kevin G. Boyd who knows the importance of image and what your choice in bottled water conveys to the public. In Hollywood it seems the bottled water one carries has become an important prop and it has become the land of the upmarket waters - bottles are becoming statements of coolness and Bling H2O was fashioned to make a defining statement. The mission was to offer a product with an exquisite face to match exquisite taste. The product is strategically positioned to target the expanding super-luxury consumer market. Bling H2O has been featured at many recent celebrity events including the MTV Video Music Awards and television’s biggest event, The Emmys. Our favourite quote on the subject was Adjab, which said that it proved the old adage that it's really easy to get rich people to fork over cash for stupid reasons.