Forbes is reporting today on a study in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine that finds that Latino and black parents are three times more likely to purchase bottled water for their children than are white parents. Why? Because it's cleaner, safer, healthier and more convenient than free (or almost free) tap water.
Except … it's not.
Health experts note reams of data showing tap water to be pure, healthful and entirely sanitary. Plus, study authors say that missing out on the fluoride in tap water could contribute to dental issues among minority children.
And then there's the National Resources Defense Council investigation that discovered that 17 percent of bottled water contained unsafe levels of bacterial loads, and 22 perent was contaminated with chemicals, including arsenic.
So what's behind the decision to buy bottles? You guessed it. Marketing. Here are the three main factors identified by study authors:
* Latino-specific bottled water brands: For example, Las Oleadas, a brand of mineral-enhanced bottled water for sale in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and California, focuses explicitly on the Hispanic market.
* Targeting of minority moms: Think Dasani enlisting TLC's Chilli to deliver its message of health and hydration to African-American mothers in a special Mother's Day program.
* Celebrity endorsement: According to Forbes, in the 1990s, advertisers really started to take the African-American market seriously and realized the profits to be cultivated if they started to use black stars. And between 2008 and 2010, when Hispanic commercials featuring Latina TV host Cristina Saralegui aired, the awareness of Pure Life water, along with "purchase-intent levels," quadrupled among Hispanics.
With the economy in bad shape and unemployment still extremely high (especially in black and Latino communities), not many people have extra money to throw around on an unnecessary product — no matter how compelling the advertising. It may just be time to turn off the TV and put down the bottles.
Read more at Forbes.
In other news: VIDEO: There's No Racist Teleprompter.