After publishing a recent blog post citing Enliven research that shows bottled water outselling bottled soda on hospital campuses, we received a few emails critical of the blog post. In general, they questioned why Enliven would be a proponent of bottled water.
We’re not. But we do have data on beverages sold on hospital campuses that no other company has.
The purpose of the blog post was to share our research.
While I can go into more detail, it might be more insightful (and certainly more interesting) to look at an actual reader email and my response. I hope the exchange helps better outline our position. Please note that the email below was sent by a person who works at a small healthcare system in the Midwest. This system has approximately 400 staffed beds.
Isn’t bottled water harmful to humans due to the content of the plastics leeching into the water and those contents are carcinogenic and/or mimic hormones in human bodies? Also, it supports our dependence on fossil fuels (to produce plastic), and also wastes very much water in the process of bottling the water, and contributes to GHG by transporting the water (available at any local tap for 1/1000 of the cost of a bottled water)? And it steals from non-renewable resources. From my perspective, I’m not sure the message you are trying to send me with this email. Please clarify.
It is my opinion that neither bottled soda or water is good for us.
Sara [not real name]
Thanks for this thoughtful note and your pointed questions. I really appreciate this feedback and the opportunity to engage in conversation about these important issues. With respect, I think that we are probably much more aligned than you might think. Let me explain.
Yes, bottled water has been shown to be harmful to humans in some studies. And, yes, tap water consumption is far better for the environment—and far, far cheaper—than bottled water consumption. In my email and blog post, I was not trying to promote the use of bottled water. Rather, I was simply trying to report the fact that bottled water consumption has already surpassed bottled soda consumption on hospital campuses.
In our experience, even hospital systems like yours that are trying to encourage tap water consumption still actually purchase quite a bit of traditional beverage product every year. (This product is distributed in the cafeteria, on patient trays, with catering, in doctors’ lounges, etc.) And, as long as that is the case, our position is the following:
- Why not pay as little as possible for the beverages that you do still purchase, AND
- Why not consolidate these purchases with one vendor (Coke or Pepsi) so that you get the maximum leverage and maximum discounts and maximum rebates on these purchased beverages?
In other words, I strongly suspect that we could help you both
- achieve your goals of increasing tap water consumption while, at the same time, and
- save a bunch of money on the beverages that your system continues to purchase b/c not everyone is going to drink tap water, at least not right away.
Based on a quick look at your facilities, beds and employees, I estimate that we could save your system about $50-$75K per year by doing an exclusive beverage deal with either Coke or Pepsi. We could do this, while STILL fully supporting your efforts to grow tap water consumption. Over the coming years, as the volume of purchased packaged beverages declines, this savings will undoubtedly go down. But that’s to be expected and, in your case, highly desired.
One of our clients, SSM Health in St. Louis, had an even more ambitious goal related to plastic bottles that we helped them achieve. Specifically, they wanted to eliminate all plastic bottles sold or distributed on their campuses. We helped them achieve that goal in the context of an exclusive pouring rights deal with Pepsi. And, in the process, we also helped them save more than a $1 million net over the course of their 10-year Pepsi contract. You can download the case study on this at our website here:
I encourage you to poke around on our site and learn more about what we do. You’ll see that there is absolutely no cost for you to engage with us. We’d love to try to assist you. If we gain your trust and convince you to move forward with an exclusive deal, we’ll get paid a percentage of the incremental funds and incremental savings that we generate for you. You will never have any out-of-pocket expenses with us. The $50-75K/year savings estimate I made above is truly net to you.
Maybe you could use that “found money” to help promote more tap water consumption? Maybe you could install more water fountains and water bottle re-fill stations with it, for as long as the money lasts? It would be fun to work on a project like this!
Final Thoughts: On average, hospital systems reduce their beverage spending by 24% in the first year of an exclusive pouring agreement negotiated by Enliven. If your hospital system has four or more acute care hospitals, 1,200 or more staffed beds and 6,000 or more employees, we can probably generate at least $1 million or more in savings for you during a five-year contract term. The bigger your system, the bigger the savings. Contact us and find out how we can help.