Talking Shop with… Elizabeth Webb

The cause marketing manager for DS Waters says that water is the perfect product to promote breast cancer awareness throughout the year.

Grocery Headquarters: What is the story behind the Athena brand of bottled water?
Elizabeth Webb:
Athena bottled water is the creation of breast cancer survivor Trish May. The high-powered software executive waged her own personal battle against cancer and won. After receiving a clean bill of health, May decided to direct her energy toward finding a cure.  May chose water—symbolic of the essence of life—as a convenient and healthy commodity that could empower consumers to make a difference.

Named after the Greek goddess of purity, wisdom and strength, Athena encourages everyone to join the fight against breast cancer with a simple bottle of water. After building Athena into a strong regional brand in the Northwest, May took her distinctive, pink-ribbon label to the next level by playing an active role in the purchase of her product by DS Waters of America. One of the leading bottled water companies in the U.S., DS Waters has focused its corporate commitment to help end breast cancer forever since 2007.

Adding the Athena brand to DS Waters’ rich history of regional brands—including Hinckley Springs, Sparkletts, Kentwood Springs, Alhambra, Mt. Olympus, Sierra Springs, Belmont Springs and Crystal Springs—was a natural fit. Funding breast cancer education, awareness and research is close to the heart of DS Waters’ CEO Dillon Schickli, who lost his mother to breast cancer.  “Our goal to raise more than $1 million by 2014 is well within reach,” he says.

How is Athena different from other pink-branded products?
Athena bottled water is emerging as a force in the fight against breast cancer. The brand is available year-round, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The beauty of this brand is that everyone can join the fight against breast cancer, and truly make a difference in the lives of many women and their families.

A portion of every purchase contributes to the cause. The Athena Partners Foundation has made donations to the American Cancer Society, the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliates, and the Seattle Cancer Center, among others.

Is cause-related marketing still important to consumers?
While consumers have been barraged by cause-related engagement programs and monthly promotions for favorite charities, one particular segment—moms—shop with a cause in mind. 92% of moms want to buy a product that supports a cause versus 81% of average consumers, according to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study.

Today, more than ever, aligning with a cause differentiates a brand and translates into purchasing. Athena’s target audience of women aged 25 to 65 determine most of the buying decisions for the household and are influenced by socially-minded youth to purchase products that support a cause.

How can retailers support the cause?
Retailers can build customer loyalty by carrying distinctive brands and giving customers a choice. When you sell Athena water, everyone wins. The more Athena water customers drink, the more cases of water retailers sell, and the more money Athena gives to the cause. More donations result in increased awareness leading to earlier detection, more treatment options and fewer deaths resulting from breast cancer.

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