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What went wrong for online water retailer Wazoo?

Online water company Wazoo has fallen into administration.

The company was launched in 2019, describing itself as a disruptor in the market for clean and nearly-clean drinking water. After a stock market float that raised £42bn, the company paid to have its branding everywhere – on TV, on football shirts and on celebrity ‘Wazoo Ambassadors’. The company’s stated aim was to own the market for water, worldwide. It believed that internet sales would simplify the customer experience, build brand loyalty and deliver riches beyond compare for its founders. It did achieve the latter. Of the £42bn raised from city investors, £41.5bn was paid to its founders in dividends and other remuneration.

The company enjoyed some success, but customers said that Wazoo’s nearly-cleanTM bottled water was no different to what came out of their taps and cost 200 times more. The on-line service did offer consumers greater convenience, but customers became more savvy. They realised that if they had to get off the sofa to collect water at the front door, it was only a short further walk to the kitchen tap.

The company diversified into a range of waters of different qualities. The ‘Mayfair’ brand was 99.9% pure, the ‘Devon’ brand was 50% pure (and contained live 'friendly bacteria') and the ‘Windermere’ brand was so impure that it could not legally be sold as water. Despite massive marketing spend, consumers were unimpressed and moved to alternatives – milk, beer and dehydrated water products. Customers were literally drying up.

At the end, the company’s stock market value had fallen to forty seven pence. The founders blamed the customers. ‘We were ahead of our time and we were too sophisticated for our customers. The market for clean and nearly-clean water was not ready for our tech-savvy on-line service. We’ll give it another ten years or so and then we will do it all again.’

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