Conventional wisdom tells us there is wisdom in the crowd. Could it be, then, that the enormous shift in sales from soda and other sugary beverages to plain old bottled water is a collective act of learning on the part of the masses of American consumers?


After all, there has been an enormous paradigm shift in consumers’ awareness of the foods they put in their bodies. Where soda sales would routinely top 50 gallons per capita in the 1990s to mid-2000s, today soda sells less by volume than water. In fact, while bottled water is consumed at 39.3 gallons per capita, carbonated soft drinks sit at 38.5 gallons.

So I guess one could argue that water is winning. This despite a concerted campaign on the part of large soft drink companies to promote their products to the youth and adults in the United States. They have attempted to advertise to the youth by putting sugary soft drinks in school vending machines and by allocating marketing and advertising dollars to the tune of nearly a billion dollars per year, with billions more spent on reaching adults.

These campaigns and the enormous expense that comes with them all seem to be falling short in some respects as the bottled water sector (in which The Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo are competitors as well) has blossomed and segmented into a wide variety of brands and products, many of which are brand new. Everything from alkaline water to water from aquifers is now available in many grocery stores.

Another likely reason for the boom in bottled water sales may involve the dramatic drop in tap water quality, as low oxygen and particulates from the sewer system and pipes, as well as pollution from lakes and streams and runoff from farms into local water supplies. Bottled water is generally filtered and drinkable in places with sub-par water quality. And for people who are extra vigilant about their water, bottled water is a simple solution.

The shift from soda to bottled water says one thing about human nature: the masses learn. Carbonated beverages are, generally speaking, bad for you, and it seems that Americans are, slowly but surely, collectively learning this—whether the hard way through experience, or by being taught by advertising campaigns and news reports and health classes being taught in school to minors.

It seems that water is poised to win out over soda in the long run, which makes sense, since it comprises more than half of the matter in our bodies. (Alternatively: since it comprises around 55% of women’s bodies and around 60% of men’s. It seems that Americans are ‘going with the flow’ of what their bodies are telling them: that it’s time to drink more water, and that their health depends on it.



Chad Weisman—CEO, Golden Strands Communication; ‘creative type’; surfer on the amber waves of grain; avid concert attendee.