As the world’s leading trade publication focusing on the international water cooler community, Cooler Innovation is written for and about those operating in or supplying the water cooler industry, so it’s not surprising that we tend towards terminology that’s in common use by our audience.
But the debate began because we asserted that those who actually use coolers have no idea what we’re talking about. What does an end-user want from any water cooler? Quality water at the desired temperature, and that’s what all water coolers do. They all dispense quality water at the desired temperature – at ‘point of dispense’. The actual ‘point of use’ may be at the office desk or on the commute to work. The ‘point of use’ is actually when the cup touches the lip! On that basis, the term POU means nothing at all to the end-user.
A correspondent recently suggested that, “The term ‘mains-fed’ puts people off a little. They think that it’s chilled tap water!”
Well, there’s the problem and the solution. While I can see that Cooler Innovation, or the industry itself, might refer to ‘mains-fed’, it would be worrying if this was terminology used when facing consumers.
Who are this industry’s customers? Well, until we begin to see a serious uptake in home coolers, customers are office or facility managers and business owners. And what do they want? Well, clearly to provide a quality hydration option for their employees and visitors.
Let’s look at the definition of point of use. There are many, such as: ‘Point of use treats water at a single tap, while the rest of the water in the building remains untreated’; or ‘the treatment of water at point of use’. What do both of these and many others have in common? They talk about treatment. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? If something needs treating, then maybe the thing that’s being treated has some sort of problem. The same may apply to the use of the word ‘filtration’.
In this Brita-enlightened world, consumers know that to make perfect tea, their perfectly drinkable tap water may need a little work to become as pure as they require. But doesn’t the phrase ‘point of use’ actually draw attention to the fact there’s a problem – or at least a perceived problem – in the first place? And shouldn’t a positive marketing message be all about solutions rather than problems?
So as long as all coolers are properly maintained and dispense as required, all that concerns the end-user is the temperature of the water. The quality should be assumed. End-users of all consumer goods assume that quality issues have already been dealt with. When a consumer buys a car, he doesn’t ask to see the airbags activated, to be assured that they will work if required. He doesn’t ask to see public health certification before eating in a restaurant. He doesn’t wish to see a list of bacteria not present in a factory before buying food. Consumers trust. Enjoy that fact. Unless you deliberately draw their attention to a problem, they will assume there is no problem.
I’m not offering a solution here, I’m merely saying the definitions and terminology we currently use to distinguish between bottled and non-bottled water coolers might make sense to us, but I’m not sure that they make much sense to the end-user. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we have yet to see a breakthrough in the residential market. Perhaps consumers just don’t understand what we’re talking about, or are scared off by thinking that there’s some sort of problem.
We’d love to hear what you think and to see some examples of marketing to customers that avoid industry jargon.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020