Two-thirds of Brits more likely to make a purchase if a business provides free water

Fri 20th April 2018

New research reveals business opportunity

A new survey has revealed that nearly two thirds of Brits (64%) would be more likely to make a purchase in a business when visiting to refill their reusable water bottle.

The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by BRITA Professional and environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy, also highlighted that 64% of consumers would be more likely to return for future purchases if they could refill their water bottle. While 62% said it would make them choose a business that offered free refills over a competitor. Furthermore, 73% would view a business more favourably if it gave free tap or filtered water on request.

The research, which is being launched in Parliament today, is part of BRITA Professional’s wider #SwapForGood campaign, which aims to help eradicate the use of single-use plastic bottles by encouraging people to make small changes to their lifestyle that can have a big impact on the environment.

It makes clear that ending our reliance on single-use plastic bottles will take a significant cultural shift – and it won’t be as simple as making more water fountains available, as 59% of consumers worry about their cleanliness, rising to 64% of women. Currently only 9% use public fountains, a figure almost unchanged from when this survey was carried out a year ago (when it was 7%)[1].

Three quarters (73%), however, would be encouraged to use a reusable bottle if they could help themselves to drinking water in shops or cafés and not need to ask staff for it, while almost two thirds (63%) think food and drink businesses should be required to provide free tap or filtered water to anyone who asks for it.

The survey also found that:

Women are more likely than men to own and regularly use a reusable water bottle, with 40% doing so compared to 31% of men. While 49% millennials do so compared with just 27% of over 55s.
78% think there should be greater availability of free tap water across the UK
27% of reusable bottle owners purchase bottled water because they are unsure whether there will be somewhere to fill up
61% say if they could be sure water out and about is safe to drink they would be more likely to use reusable bottles
Two fifths still don’t know their rights when it comes to getting water out and about[2]
Sarah Taylor, Managing Director, BRITA UK, said: The damage single-use plastic is doing to our marine and wider environment and marine life has been well documented, and it is clear many people are committed to tackling this. However, there is much more we can all do to help people swap for good by making it as easy as possible for them to refill and stay hydrated. Not only is this a move in the right direction, but it makes business sense too – as, the latest insights showed, consumers will be more likely to purchase from businesses that offer refills.”

Keep Britain Tidy, Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, said: “There has been encouraging progress in the past year to address litter levels from single-use plastic, but this report demonstrates that we are not there yet. Too many people still find it challenging to fill up on the go, while many more are still embarrassed to ask for tap, worried about the safety of water fountains, or just unwilling to go the extra mile and carry around a reusable bottle. We’ve simply got to get to a situation where topping up in glass or refillable bottle is the norm.”

[1] Water Water Everywhere, Keep Britain Tidy and BRITA UK, 11th May 2017

[2]Licensed premises including bars, theatres and restaurants are legally required to provide free drinking water on request in England, Scotland and Wales, although they can charge for the use of a glass

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