Research reveals bottled water ads invoke fear of dying to increase sales
04/11/2018 // Jessica Dolores // Views

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada suggest that a fear of dying is what drives people to buy bottled water. The authors of the study arrived at this conclusion after analyzing data from bottled water campaigns and ads, websites, photos and videos.

  • The study used the Terror Management Theory (TMT) to create a framework for understanding the campaigns. Under the TMT, the fear of mortality determines consumer habits, wealth accumulation, and status security.
  • Researchers also studied how anti-bottled water campaigns are unable to upend those that promote the use of bottled water.
  • According to the analysis, corporate campaigns targeted people who equate their personal value with looks, fitness levels, wealth, class and social status.
  • Bottled water campaigns also used branding, celebrity and positive emotions that promote patriotism and identification with a group.
  • The authors proffered that public and non-governmental organizations must alter their tactics so that people appreciate the value of municipal drinking systems.
  • They also suggested that the new tactics must appeal to people's emotions and focus less on the ethical and environmental benefits of tap water.

The findings indicated that pro-bottled water advertisements could manage a person's anxiety on death because it can appeal to his or her self-esteem and symbolically extend his lifespan.

Journal Reference:

Cote S, Wolfe SE. EVIDENCE OF MORTALITY SALIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEFENSES IN BOTTLED WATER CAMPAIGNS  Applied Environmental Education & Communication. 2017 Dec 5:1–18. DOI: 10.1080/1533015X.2017.1399836

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