The high consumption of mineral water is part of that intense evolutionary process which has in the last few years seen increased demand for agri-food products, under the influence of social, demographic and economic phenomena. In particular, these developments are reflected in the user who expresses a need for consumption which is increasingly differentiated and varied over time and who bases his/her choices on diverse consumption criteria. All this assumes great significance also in the mineral water market, which is characterized by the presence of a large number of brands leading inevitably to "complexity of choice" for the consumer and, consequently, adjustment difficulties for the firms operating in this sector. This study arises from the need to improve knowledge about a sector of great interest to the national economic system and, in particular, on the demand for "mineral water". It was decided to carry out empirical research with the primary aim of outlining consumers’ behaviour when choosing and buying the product and motivations for mineral water consumption. The first part of the work aims to carry out an analysis of national and international demand for mineral water drawing on various statistical sources, followed by some remarks on the applications and analysis tools used for better interpretation of the data. The second part focuses on description of the methodology and analysis tools used to characterize the mineral water consumers. The research was carried out with the aid of a questionnaire administered to a reasonably large sample of consumers (550) interviewed at various large-scale retail sales points. In the third part, the information obtained is subjected to multivariate analysis with the "principal components" method (Pearson, 1901 and Hotelling 1933) which is able to reduce the vast amount of evaluations collected into a small number of variables useful for succinctly describing the consumer’s habits concerning choice of mineral water. Finally, although this research is only a first contribution towards an analysis of consumer behaviour regarding mineral water, whose results will be enriched by yet further analysis, it may be an interesting starting point in guiding adaptation processes for the whole sector as well as being useful to firms in their introduction of appropriate strategies for product differentiation and promotion.
Keywords: Mineral water consumption, consumer behaviour, Principal Components Analysis
Jel Code: C38, D12, M31