Naas du Preez, MD of the Oasis Group, reveals how the Company’s innovative approach is fundamentally changing the region’s bottled water industry
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Lewis Bush
Plastic pollution is quickly becoming one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.
Every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic enter our oceans, with estimates predicting that there are now around 5.25 trillion items contaminating the marine environment globally, accounting for up to 90 percent of all ocean debris.
With plastic production set to double from current levels to more than 640 million tonnes each year by 2034, the need for solutions is becoming increasingly urgent.
Africa is one region where this is starkly clear. Tap water across the continent has long been deemed to be unsafe to drink, with the use of bottled water having been normalised across the continent as a cleaner, safer and more convenient alternative.
Recognising the growing problem, environmentalists are calling for companies to take greater action – a role that Oasis Water has been thriving within.
A company that prides itself on being a good corporate citizen, Oasis Water is pursuing a number of initiatives on this front, namely through its refill concept.
All of the firm’s 290 locations across South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, consumers are able to utilise these refill stations to access the same clean and safe water that they would normally drink from bottled water whilst being able to reuse their existing containers.
“We are proud to say that we recently opened two refill stations within the Kruger National Park, encouraging visitors to reduce their plastic impact by refilling their bottles,” says Naas du Preez, Managing Director of the Oasis Water Group, providing one of the latest examples of the Company’s good work.
“In association with PETCO, a global leader in the recycling of post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET), we are also assisting the park in recycling PET materials that are 100 percent recyclable.”
Reputation is key
Oasis Water’s other offerings readily complement its refill concept.
Selling PETCO approved bottles as large as 10 litres and for-life containers as sizeable as 25 litres, the Company aims to provide its customers with a more environmentally-conscious solution.
Du Preez explains: “All our products are manufactured using plastic PET packaging, but we actively encourage those that purchase our products to recycle and reuse where possible as responsible members of PETCO.”
Founded in 2003, Oasis Water has grown rapidly, driven by this ethos, referred to as its triple bottom line philosophy of “people, planet, profit”, alongside its franchise business model.
Building the brand through this structure, Oasis Water has been readily positioned to connect with customers and expand its market potential, now accounting for approximately 23 percent of South Africa’s water market and offering 53 trademarked beverage products.
“We provide full beverage solutions from refill water, bulk water, bottled water, fruit juices, energy drinks, ice teas, sports drinks, flavoured waters and carbonated soft drinks,” says du Preez.
“However, not only do we have a greater range of options than our competitors, but we value our franchise relationships and ensure our products are the best on the market through our rigorous quality control process.
“We have 15 years’ experience in our industry and we understand the retail and franchise environment extensively. It has been integral to the development of our brand and our continued success.”
By fundamentally catering to the demands of its consumers and changes in the market where possible, it is easy to see why the Oasis Water brand has grown so substantially, offering premium products and conscious solutions.
“We are proud to be known as a reputable Group with a substantial national footprint, and our ‘green edge’ is something that really differentiates us from our competitors within the market,” du Preez states. “We recognise the demand for sustainable solutions and have proven that we can deliver.”
Differentiation through innovation
Through this, the Company has grown to provide an extensive footprint across Southern Africa, now providing 80 percent coverage across South Africa, acting as the primary vendor for a large number of its customers.
Whilst the brand has been crucial within this, Oasis Water also leverages innovative low-cost methods to ensure that it has remained ahead of its rivals with a competitive pricing structure.
Leveraging municipal and recycled water sources, Oasis Water is able to purify and package its water using osmosis techniques onsite in many cases, reducing the risk of contamination whilst allowing the firm to keep its costs down.
Oasis Water’s leveraging of public distribution systems is a technique that has been heralded by industry experts, demonstrated when the firm recently secured Frost & Sullivan’s 2018 Company of the Year Award in the bottled water and hydration industry in Southern Africa.
Deemed to be an industry progressive, these differentiated methods allow the Company to expand almost anywhere – something that du Preez hopes to continue to pursue moving forward.
“Now, in September we expanded our carbonated soft drink range to include 330ml products, and have rolled our new sports and kids drinks in the past year, as well as working on sports drinks sachets and other products,” he explains.
“Looking ahead, we are hoping to sell the Oasis franchises more aggressively,” he says. “We plan to further diversify our offerings, implementing ecommerce for our whole franchise group and launching more express stores within retailers.
“Ultimately, our growth strategy has been a success to date, and we expect this to continue as we grow in new and different exciting ways.”