Nongfu Spring’s declaration of war? Packaging transforms from red to green overnight

On 23 April, a “Nongfu Spring Purified Water” poster circulated on the internet, showcasing Nongfu Spring’s transformation of its classic red bottled water packaging to green, with a net content of 550ml. The poster revealed that Nongfu Spring purified water is sourced from the underwater depths of Qiandao Lake, Danjiangkou Dam, and other water sources, totalling ten in all. Despite the poster release, Nongfu Spring purified water has yet to appear on major e-commerce platforms, and offline shops still haven’t stocked it.

For the past two decades, Nongfu Spring has concentrated on promoting natural drinking water, proudly advocating its health benefits. However, the day before Nongfu Spring unveiled its purified water line, C’estbon, owned by China Resources Beverages, submitted its IPO application to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Notably, the green bottle mirrors the primary colour of C’estbon. Therefore, Nongfu Spring’s strategic move is widely regarded as a declaration of war against the beverage brand.

In March, Nongfu Spring found itself in a conflict with Wahaha, spurred by nationalist sentiments among some Chinese citizens. This time, discussions on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, under hashtags such as #Nongfu Spring green bottle purified water# (农夫山泉绿瓶纯净水) and #Nongfu Spring declares war on Wahaha and C’estbon with purified water# (农夫山泉推纯净水向娃哈哈怡宝宣战), many netizens expressed disapproval towards Nongfu Spring. They view its previous extensive promotion of the health benefits of natural water as contradictory to its current actions, which they perceived as “slashing its face” (打脸).

However, according to Zhan Junhao, founder of Fujian Huazhe brand positioning consulting, Nongfu Spring’s decision to introduce purified water could be attributed to the potential weakness in the growth of its water business. With increasing consumer demand for high-quality drinking water, there remains a definite growth opportunity in the purified water market. Nongfu Spring’s strategic move appears to be aimed at seizing additional market share and enhancing its overall performance.


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