How to Market Water Filtration to Millennials

August 18th, 2017 by

Water quality dealers need to take notice and develop a game plan to market water filtration to millennials.

Millennials are defined born between 1980 – 2000 They have grown up in a time of rapid change. Hence giving them a set of priorities and expectations that differ sharply from previous generations.

Millennials have been judged as internet-addicted voyeurs and given very little credit for their entrepreneurial spirit. In terms of sheer numbers, millennials haven taken over the title of largest generation since the baby boomers – with over 92 million individuals. They represent a population that is savvy, connected and more diverse than any previous generation.

The water industry cannot afford to neglect this group. In fact, this is the right time to nurture them and make them dedicated and loyal water filtration advocates and dealers need to market water filtration to millennials.


We are looking at information from multiple sources in this article:

  • Nielsen’s report, Millennials – Breaking the Myths. This report sheds light on this diverse generation and how they consume media. Understanding the nuances of this audience is important when crafting messages and developing a marketing mix that gains traction.
  • 2017 WQA Consumer Opinion Study, conducted by the Water Quality Association and released at this past WQA Conference. This study contains concrete information about buyers of water filtration systems. Click here for the summary & highlights of the Study.
  • Goldman Sachs – Data Story: Millennials Coming of Age
  • BCG Perspectives – How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever

Here are some of the findings from these reports:

Millennials care about their well-being

When Chipotle announced that they would no longer use genetically-modified ingredients, social media exploded with millennial enthusiasm. Millennials are dedicated to wellness, devoting time and money to exercising and eating right. Their active lifestyle influences trends in everything from food and drink to fashion. They’re using apps to track training data and online information to find the healthiest foods.

Millennials are Image-Conscious

Millennials are image-conscious consumers, which could be a natural byproduct of growing up among constant exposure on social media. To many millennials, the simple act of selecting a beverage during a lunch break is the potential for a statement about their identity and values. In fact, half of millennials believe that brands “say something” about “how they fit in” to the world as a whole, and 59% are willing to pay more for a brand that portrays the right image.

Millennials are Green

Pew Research on millennials in adulthood indicates that while less than a third of millennials identify as outright environmentalists, they’re the most “sustainable” generation to date. Young adults are:

  • More likely to support strict environmental policies and regulations
  • 80% prefer to work for sustainable employers
  • Choose sustainable transportation options when possible
  • Will pay more for eco-friendly products

Regardless of how millennials perceive the label of “environmentalist,” it’s clear that many members of this age group behave in ways that are clearly sustainable. This includes considering a product’s potential environmental impact when making purchase decisions and forming loyalties.

Millennials are Driving Sustainable Packaging Trends

Millennials view taking care of themselves and the planet as “one and the same”. This group’s preference for healthy, convenient foods that are packaged sustainably have had a significant impact on the packaging industry.

There was a fascinating case study by a company called Tetra Pak. This study examined declines in prepared soup consumption and how they reversed it. It’s all related to the recent availability of biodegradable packaging. Just think of the paper cartons of soup that have become so common. Did you know that 75% of millennials prefer soup in paper cartons to cans? The truth of the matter is that paper cartons are 70% more eco-friendly than cans. For that reason, the visible sustainability of millennial-targeted soup packaging has made a clear impact.

While boxed water might not have taken off, millennials appreciate Dasani’s PlantBottle® packaging and the steps they are making to reduce its impact on the planet.

Millennials as consumers

In light of the statistics, it’s important to take into account how these millennials are consuming media. While millennials tend to choose brands that resonate with them, millennials also trust their peers and celebrities. The millennial generation wants to be a part of a larger conversation. They want to make individual contributions that can be connected and woven into a larger discussion.

Millennial Females – Typically Bottled Water Users Today

The 2017 WQA Consumer Study points out that millennial females are typically bottled water users. For her, it’s all about convenience and what works most efficiently with her active lifestyle.

The millennial female may be a dedicated bottled water drinker today. However, as millennials enter the housing market and begin to start families, the dynamics will change.  There is a huge opportunity with this key group. The industry needs to start to craft the marketing message now. Millennials have unlimited product information at their digital fingertips. They are researching and turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience and sustainability at the lowest cost.

Crafting the Message for the Future

The message needs to appeal on multiple levels. This includes informational, social, convenience, price, as well as the ethical framework of social responsibility and sustainability. In terms of marketing channels, marketers will need to diversify the marketing mix.

Millennials make decisions based on a lot of information gathering. This includes on line reviews and recommendations by friends.  It’s important to focus on providing quality information about the importance of pure water for health. For example, how many glasses of water a day are necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Offer details on how pure, filtered water provides muscles with energy. Share statistics on how many liters of water is necessary for every 15 minutes of activity. For example, how water is important for radiant skin.

Stress Social Interactions

Millennials are Social; they enjoy the companionship of others. Messaging need to focus on the hospitality /social aspect of enjoying good tasting water in the company of friends. Photos may include a group of friends sitting around the pool, drinking water with sliced fruit in it from cool glasses. A blog may showcase using fruit or edible flowers to make unique ice cubes (thank you Culligan for that great post). Or post a You-Tube video on how to use the mold to make the special big ice cube for scotch. Or depict a couple at home enjoying quality coffee made with quality water.

The BCG Study indicates that convenience and 24/7 availability was rated as one of the 3 top reasons for choosing a brand.  Millennials can enjoy quality water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from a home water filtration system. The industry also needs to focus on comparing the convenience and cost of a filtered water system versus the cost and effort of buying bottled water.

Is Price Important?

Findings from the 2017 WQA Consumer Study indicate that the price of bottled water has had little impact on the decision to purchase alternatives. This will change as this huge cohort takes on home ownership and the costs associated with it. In messaging, one of the keys will be focusing on the smart investment of a water filtration system.

Millennials are characterized as being very price conscious with many having student loan debt. This does not mean that Millennials are not buying. They are exploring new ways to purchase the items they want in a financially responsible way. Some are choosing new financing options that allow them to buy an item now and spread out their payments over several months, all while avoiding compounding interest and hidden fees. Millennials are trying these new financing innovations they believe help them maintain greater control over their financial health.

Think different types of financing. Klarna or PayPal’s 4 payment programs. It’s a buy now, pay later type of option. Very popular with this cohort.

Stress Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility / Sustainability: Millennials placed tremendous importance on the causes a brand supports. Millennials love Starbucks, Tom’s Shoe and Coca Cola because of their values and social commitment.

Interestingly, according to the WQA Consumer Study, the Green Movement has had little impact to date on the decision to purchase bottled water. 83% of respondents answered that the green movement has had no impact on an individual’s decision to purchase bottled water.

However, as millennials become home owners and stakeholders in their communities, they will start to rethink bottled water purchases. This is because they can now have a convenient, low-cost alternative in their own homes.

We will also begin to see millennials gravitating to trendy re-useable water bottles that they can show off to their peers when they go to exercise class or drop off their children at pre-school. As they start to have children, their environmental worldview will also begin to change. Consequently, they will look towards a sustainable future for their children.

Different Style of Marketing Engagement

In marketing, calls to action need to inspire engagement, rather than robotic consumption. For millennials, editorial content that is valuable and sharable may be more effective than traditional advertising. It’s not only about winning over millennials so that they buy a water filtration system, we need to convert the female millennial into an advocate for in-home filtered water who espouses the benefits to her peers.

Websites need to be agile, mobile-friendly and offer a review module that enables users to see public reviews of your products and services and post their own reviews to share with others.

Make sure you offer compelling photos, stories and solid content. Be part of the larger world of water and make your dealership look larger than it is.

Think Omni-channel if you want to reach millennials. According to a 2017 study by the USPS, 88% of millennials were interested in seeing the images of their postal mail online with Informed Delivery.

Your marketing strategy needs to provide millennials with opportunities to take control of their well-being. Consequently, this will build relationships with your dealership. You need to make it easy to share information and photos. Therefore, this way you can start a genuine conversation about health and sustainability for themselves, their families and the planet.


BRAND NEW: Download Datadale’s presentation at WQA 2019 – Marketing Water Filtration Products to Millennials.