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Vitamin water wars

  • Source: Global Times
  • [08:23 February 17 2011]
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On a Beijing supermarket shelf, the primary distinguishing characteristic between Nongfu Spring's new "Victory Vitamin Water" and Coca Cola Glacéau's "Vitaminwater" is the price. Coca Cola has asked Nongfu Spring to change its product's labels, packaging and promotional materials. Photo: Li Shuang

By Li Shuang

The new line of fruit-flavored, brightly colored "Victory Vitamin Water" that recently hit the shelves of Beijing's supermarkets bears a striking resemblance to Coca Cola's Glacéau "Vitaminwater," only it's 60 percent cheaper.

Zhai Mei, a spokeswoman for Coca Cola China, told the Global Times Wednesday that the corporation is aware of the competing beverage being produced by the Chinese company Nongfu Spring, and has "officially contacted [them] asking that the labels, packaging and all promotional materials be changed."

"We are in friendly negotiations right now," Zhai said.

Side by side on a supermarket shelf, the two lines of soft drinks are indistinguishable at a glance.

Victory Vitamin Water debuted in late January with the tagline "daily vitamin intake made easy," and arrived in Beijing's supermarkets in early February. The beverage comes in the same colors as Glacéau's line and has the same two-toned silver-white label with a section of color matching that of the drink.

Boasting the health benefits of added vitamins and offering a significantly sweeter taste than Coca Cola's Vitaminwater, Nongfu's Victory Vitamin Water retails for 3.8 yuan ($0.58), while Vitaminwater sells for 9.8 yuan.

A staff member of a Bonjour supermarket in Choayang district said the new, colorful waters have been selling well, while Glacéau's line is not, due to its much higher price.

"Check carefully. Don't pick the expensive one," a woman shopping in the supermarket said to her friend, who was picking up a few bottles of Victory Vitamin Water.

Despite its higher price, Vitaminwater has been selling "extremely well," in the words of spokeswoman Zhai. "People love it. They love how cool it looks. They love reading the witty messages on the label."

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