Talking Shop with… Elizabeth Webb, DS Waters of America

Elizabeth Webb, cause marketing manager for DS Waters of America,  provides an update on the company’s efforts to support breast cancer awareness with its Athena brand.

Grocery Headquarters: Tell us about Athena Water. What makes your company different?

Elizabeth Webb: Athena Water was created for the cause by breast cancer survivor Trish May in 2003. Invoking the attributes of the Greek goddess Athena—wisdom, strength and purity—her goal was simple: Raise funds and awareness to help make real progress in women’s cancer research. In 2010, Trish partnered with DS Waters of America, a producer of bottled water brands known for great taste and purity. As part of the DS Waters family, Athena is now gaining momentum and nationwide recognition as well as distribution.

Athena empowers everyone to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer with every purchase. DS Waters has pledged to support this mission by contributing to organizations such as The American Cancer Society and its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks.

Cause marketing is an important part of your marketing efforts. Please give us an update in this area.

DS Waters recently announced that the Athena brand is increasing its commitment to fight breast cancer, doubling the minimum contribution from $1 million to $2 million by 2014. These funds will be used to support breast cancer care, awareness, education and research. To communicate this message, Athena is partnering with a group of brand ambassadors who each have a personal connection to the cause. The Athena Warrior team includes singer Amy Grant, daughter of an oncologist; swimmer and seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard, whose grandmother is a breast cancer survivor; and five-time LPGA event winner Angela Stanford, daughter of a breast cancer survivor.

The bottled water category continues to grow at retail. What do retailers need to do to maximize sales?

Consumers want a choice of beverages, and a cause-related product is a point of difference in a price driven market. Eighty percent of Americans are likely to switch brands about equal in price and quality, to one that supports a cause (2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study).

How can Athena help?

Athena gives consumers the opportunity to purchase a cause-related product 365 days a year, not just during October, when many products on the shelves have a pink label in support of breast cancer awareness.

Tell us about your product mix and any new products coming into the market over the next six months.

One-liter bottles of Athena purified water will be available throughout the U.S. in 2013. They are currently available at various Safeway, Raley’s, Nob Hill, Food Maxx, Save Mart and Food Source locations on the West Coast. Athena will also be available in 24-pack cases of single-serve bottles in select retail stores across the country, including Piggly Wiggly, Foodarama, Ingles Markets and Atlanta-area Walgreens stores.

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