Bottling the Naivety Genie

by Terence Jeyaretnam

Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. Instead of the more meaningful approach of letting consumers know about a product or service, in an ever-growing global consumer base that is dependent on continuous and veracious feeding, exploiting naïve consumers by ‘creating a market’ has become the new life-blood for marketers. We then build and sell what the consumer wants.

But, I feel that it is time for us to start asking some deeper questions around whether particular products serve a need, other than simply satisfying that moment, which we have come to know as ‘instant gratification’ that the purchase of a product gives, which has been advertised as something you need. Do we have an obligation? Yes, because I don’t believe we like where society is heading. Just consider the London riot, which is being described as a riot of consumption by a generation that has been most deluged by market growth advertising – ingraining concepts such as more, latest, coolest, slickest, must-haves, updating, downloading and what’s in. I personally want to see less needless stuff, and more songs such as Price Tag – why is everybody so obsessed? Money can’t buy us happiness, Can we all slow down and enjoy right now, Guarantee we’ll be feelin’ alright! The words are certainly hitting home – just type in “lyrics for” in google and see what you find as the first recognised search item!

The most notorious product that has infiltrated the market to a point where it has become a staple is none other than the marketer’s greatest trick of all – bottling water and charging a price that’s around or above that of petrol! Australians spend more than half a billion dollars on bottled water. That’s over $25 for every man, woman and child annually on a substance that is available at less than a fraction of the cost from the tap. The concept of bottled water is not a new one – for example, 1829 saw the first Société des Eaux Minérales (Mineral Water company) founded, which bottled water from Sainte Catherine spring in France, reportedly carrying health benefits, but today the idea has a brand name. It is now named Evian, one of the most popular bottled water brands globally. Remarkably, Evian spelt backwards is of course ‘naïve’! We cannot afford to be naïve about what we buy and why we buy it.

Source: Wikipedia, (Jessie J, Price Tag) and


Terence Jeyaretnam is a Director of Net Balance (, 
one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms.
Terence is based in Melbourne.