Many brands in Hong Kong have been working on sustainability initiatives to encourage more responsible consumption. Across Asia, a survey by Google Cloud found that 77% of APAC executives believed that sustainability could drive significant business transformations, compared to 73% globally. Many companies are now identifying ESG initiatives as their top organisational priority, ranking ESG on par with business model evolution and customer relationship and experience optimisation.

As a beverage brand under The Coca-Cola Company, Bonaqua has also been working on reducing packaging to help minimise waste. In May, the beverage brand started selling label-less bottled water individually across all channels in Hong Kong. The design uses fewer packaging materials and improves bottle recyclability.

According to the brand, the locally produced Bonaqua mineralised water uses 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for production and makes its bottle 52.8% lighter than the conventional PET bottle. The company also uses laser incising technology to highlight product information on the bottle and offers a bottle cap smaller than the conventional one. A sales barcode is also available to enable the individual sale of the products.

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Bonaqua claims that its design, and the products' broader availability, allows more Hong Kong consumers to participate in building a world without waste. "By making the Bonaqua label-less bottled water available to a broader range of customers, we would like to invite more consumers to take part in building a world without waste. By going label-less, Bonaqua is enabling the 'Power of Less'," said Tim Warwick, vice president of operations for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Mongolia at The Coca-Cola Company.

In addition to Hong Kong, the label-less bottled water for individual sale will also be introduced in the Taiwan market soon, and the beverage brand's sustainability efforts does not stop here. In late May, it presented its inaugural Green Market Fair at Central Market which featured a series of exhibits and various workshops, allowing visitors to practice recycling and sustainable living.

Four Eco workshops curated by local artists were launched to highlight the potential use of sustainable materials in handicrafts, art, and fashion.  It will also partner with its bottling partner Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong and contribute HK$2 million for piloting a community packaging waste recovery programme to collect and recycle used bottles or cans in a more efficient approach.
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"As Coca-Cola's bottling partner, we will continue to leverage our expertise and develop new manufacturing technologies to offer consumers even more eco-friendly beverage choices. We weave sustainability into the fabric of our endeavors, including design, sourcing, production and delivery. It is our mission to contribute to a more sustainable way of living," said Connie Yeung, director and general manager of Swire Coca-Cola HK.

Last year, Bonaqua replaced the original windmill logo with a watermill logo. According to the company, the watermill logo was inspired by the power of water and it hoped to demonstrate the idea of "water is for tomorrow" and "water pushes everything forward".

Business of the company and trends in the industry

Although Hong Kong's economy was heavily impacted by the fifth wave of the pandemic, it showed an improvement of 6.4% in 2021. Bonaqua said it enjoyed significant double-digit growth last year. According to Nielsen's MarketTrack Service data, Bonaqua was ranked first in sales volume (litre) in the packaged water category for the 15-year period ending November 2021 for total supermarkets, CVS, drug stores, provision stores and soft drink outlets in Hong Kong.  Bonaqua has also seen some trends over the years, particularly amid the pandemic. For example, the pandemic has heightened people’s focus on health, wellness, and stress reduction.

"We are seeing a new wave of 'better-for-you' beverages that feature clean labels, natural ingredients, less sugar, and fewer calories. The Coca-Cola Company strives to craft the brands and create beverages for life that people love, to refresh them in body and spirit," said Warwick.  To tap into the trends, the company recently launched a no-sugar sparkling brand "OOHA" in the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets in March. The company said the beverages of this brand contain no sugar, calories and fat. To maximise awareness, it also invited boyband MIRROR's member Anson Lo as its ambassador. 

Asked what set the company apart from the competitors in the city, Warwick said the brand's value proposition of "the water for tomorrow", commitment to sustainable development, and thus to a better world and a better tomorrow, are crucial to the brand.  marketing interactive 01

Moving forward, the brand will leverage its strong ties with key retail brands to expand the outreach of its sustainability efforts. It collaborates with 7-Eleven to offer products to customers, while also working with various sales channels this summer to enhance the products' availability. 

The importance of marketing within the company

Similar to previous Brand Spotlight stories, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also asked Warwick about the role of marketing in the company.  "During the pandemic, marketing has been elevated further as a key leader of an organisation’s consumer engagement, a driver of digital transformation for business growth, and a promoter of the voice of consumers. These go way beyond brand buildings as they form a lifeline for an organisation to successfully navigate the future," said Warwick.

He agreed that the pandemic has upended marketers' playbooks and challenged existing rules about consumer relationships and building brands, but Warwick believed that is one point that is more important than ever before. "Brands should stand behind great values.

At the Coca-Cola Company, we believe our brands must be done sustainably for a better-shared future. We hope our Bonaqua efforts in the sustainability arena are a testament to that. We will make sure our Bonaqua brand continues to contribute our fair share to help refresh the world and make a difference."

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