This week Virgin Strauss Water joined forces to reveal what two leading companies believe is a revolutionary way to consume tap water throughout the United Kingdom. Virgin Group’s Richard Branson and the Strauss Group’s Ofra Strauss headlined an event marking the launch of Virgin Pure, a water filtration system for the home.
The Virgin Strauss Water venture, according to the two CEOs, will transform how families in the United Kingdom will drink water at home. Currently about 20 percent of British households consume bottled water, and about the same ratio use filtered water. Together that is a potential market of 10 million families who are avoiding the UK’s tap water. Is this a truly innovative product, another eye-rolling attack on tap water, or both?
The answer could depend on where you live within the British isles. Many of the pipes carrying water to British homes date back as far as Victorian times. While British drinking water overall is judged to be safe, consumers have shown concerns over the possibility of everything from trace amounts of contraceptives to cancer and psychiatric drugs showing up in tap water. Water treatment and filter companies are quick to remind consumers that other chemicals including chlorine and aluminum sulphate are routinely added to the Brits’ water supply.
Naturally Branson and Strauss are pitching the “improvement” to people’s lives, and they do have a point. Many Brits get weary from lugging huge jugs of water home, and bottled water has become an unnecessary and costly addition to families’ budgets. The Virgin Pure systems also pay homage to that fine British tradition of having tea while eliminating the pesky task of plunking a kettle on the stove.
The water filtration systems are certainly sleek looking, but they do come with a sizable up front investment of about GBP 299, or about $460 dollars for the lower priced models. While many people in the industrialized world still have too much of an irrational fear over drinking tap water, if systems like Virgin Pure can eliminate the waste from plastic bottles, than the reduced amount of garbage may well be worth the cost if these products become popular and scale.
Photos courtesy Strauss Group.