DETERMINANTS SHAPING CUSTOMER CHOICES IN THE SELECTION OF PACKAGED DRINKING WATER: A PILOT STUDY FROM RAIGAD DISTRICT
In the backdrop of an intensely competitive business landscape, consumers find themselves inundated with a myriad of product alternatives. Consequently, marketers are grappling with the challenge of cultivating brand preferences among customers while warding off competitors aiming to capture the minds of these acquired consumers. To navigate this dynamic scenario, it becomes imperative for marketers to discern the determinants influencing consumers' choices in brands. This research endeavour was undertaken to pinpoint the key factors shaping consumers' brand preferences for bottled water products and to scrutinize the interplay among these determinant variables. The study employed a descriptive and explanatory research design, utilizing a cross-sectional survey strategy. Data was collected from respondents through a combination of convenience and purposive sampling techniques, employing self-administered structured questionnaires. Primary data was sourced from 400 bottled water consumers, and quantitative analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics. The findings of the study revealed that packaging, product quality, price, brand name, brand availability, brand image, and advertisement wielded significant influence over consumers' brand choices for bottled water products. Notably, the impact of brand image, brand name, packaging, and price on consumers' brand choice decisions stood out as particularly influential compared to other factors. In light of these findings, bottled water firms are advised to diligently cultivate brand equity that establishes emotional and psychological connections with customers. Enhancing the visual appeal of packaging emerged as a crucial aspect, underscoring the need for attractiveness. Furthermore, pricing strategies should be formulated based on considerations of affordability, ensuring brand accessibility is optimized at the right place and time. In essence, the study underscores the importance of strategic brand management encompassing multiple facets such as image, name, packaging, and pricing for bottled water companies aiming to secure a coveted position in the fiercely competitive market.