Between Wellness and status symbol, water as a luxury good

Although still limited to certain segments, by definition exclusive and elitist, we are facing a paradigm shift not to be underestimated: not only is water becoming, even abroad, a product, but between wellness, representations of status and exaltation of the "natural", water is increasingly turning into a luxury good.

Designer water and healthy water?

No, these are not newly developed bottles, nor are they intelligent caps or special aesthetic details: packaging certainly plays a role, but it is marginal. When you say "designer water", you mean designer water: a beverage designed to be in one way and not in another. A water made to stand out: for its flavour, for its components, for its nutritional values. And for price.

Perhaps the best known is the Beverly Hills90H2O, Californian mountain water "designed by a world-class team of experts to be the best you could want from a water", which won the World's Best Water Award and stands out for "an exceptionally healthy profile, alkaline and rich in healthy minerals", among other things.

And among the waters that find the reason for their very high cost (up to 400 euros per bottle) in their origin, such as the Japanese Fillico, or in an extraordinarily demanding harvesting process, such as the Svalbardi Polar Iceberg Water, more and more importance is given to the nutritional aspects, and therefore healthy, of the different brands (one can only call them that) of water. So much so that Martin Riese, the best-known and most respected water sommelier in the United States, went so far as to say: "I would say that everything, from mineral deficiency to overeating and headaches, can be linked to dehydration or to bad choices in water consumption".

Choice of health or status symbol?

As much as it may seem, Riese's opinion is anything but extravagant: many people recommend different types of water in relation to different needs for health and lifestyle. Thus, for example, water with a high mineral content is indicated as particularly suitable for sportsmen. And if we add high levels of magnesium to this, what looked like a very ordinary glass of water becomes a panacea for heart, muscles and brain.

It must be said, however, that the fact that “luxury” mineral water has a positive impact on health, much more than just tap water, is the subject of debate. No one has yet convincingly demonstrated this thesis, and often those who prefer this type of water recognize that they do so for reasons of taste, if not to affirm a status.

In a lateral position are placed instead the lovers of the so-called "raw water": water not filtered and not treated in (almost) any way. There are health reasons for choosing this particular product: raw water would be healthier thanks to its high content of probiotics and minerals. Critics, however, point out that what is referred to as probiotics are in fact often bacteria that can prove dangerous and that there are much richer waters on the market in minerals than that "in the natural state".

Ultimately, what is emerging is a trend of consumption linked to multiple factors, some rational, others that are more cultural or emotional. On the other hand, consumption is by its very definition not always and exclusively rational. The case of emblematic luxury: today the healthy component plays a leading role in defining the orientations of the highest segments of the market, but this has certainly not always been the case, and who knows how much more it will be.

However, if this unprecedented interest in water will lead people to drink more (and perhaps prefer water to other types of soft drinks), it cannot be said that, at least from a health point of view, luxury water has not had a positive impact.

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