Religion hits consumer market with ‘spiritual' drinking water
MIAMI – The instructions are simple: Read the Prayer ... / Drink the Water ... / Believe in God! / Believe in Yourself!
Spiritual Water, the faith-inspired venture of two Sunrise, Fla., businessmen, offers its drinkers clearer focus, positive thinking and connection to a higher power.
The 11 bottles in the company’s collection bear prayers and impressively detailed images of Jesus Christ, St. Michael and the Virgin Mary. Spiritual Water joins a broad slice of feel-good products – Testamint, Bible Gum and other bottled holy waters – emerging at the intersection of religion and commerce.
“There is a great history of people using religious images to sell products,” says Daniel Sack, an administrator at the University of Chicago Divinity School. “You are talking about combining the great American traditions of religion and consumption.”
Last fall, Elicko Taieb launched Spiritual Water as a way to inspire Protestants and Catholics. The water, purified from a municipal source in Santa Ana, is not available in stores, but Taieb says independent distributors sell about 2,000 to 3,000 cases a month.
“Church is on Sundays, but people need something to help them through the week,” says Taieb, 33 and CEO of the company.
“The whole idea is for people to feel better and to know God is with them,” he says.
Spiritual Water’s message is delivered in a 16.9-ounce plastic bottle that sells for $2.
The Formula J’ variety carries the image of Jesus in a crown of thorns and the Fatima prayer: Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins. / Save us from the fires of hell. / Lead all souls into heaven, / especially those in need of the mercy. Amen.
“You drink it, and you just feel like you are in church,” says Cecilia Joseph, a Sunrise real estate agent who liked Spiritual Water so much she became a distributor. “The pictures are so beautiful. You look at them and read the prayer, and it just feels good.”
Alongside the standard nutritional facts – zero calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein – the bottles are printed with prayers in English and Spanish.
Product varieties include Power Water with the Apostles Creed, Strength Water featuring the Serenity prayer and Essential Water with the Guardian Angel prayer (Angel of God, my guardian dear ...).
“There is a story behind every bottle. It gives people something positive to talk about,” says Eitan Peer, 36, executive vice president, who formerly worked in the wholesale perfume industry.
Taieb, who spent several years in the pest-control business, had been thinking about a faith-based venture for more than a decade. He looked at several products through which to deliver his message of spiritual enrichment.
Wear-your-faith T-shirts already had exploded in the market, along with jewelry and candles, even candy – all products used for evangelism and/or profit. The New Jersey firm that makes Testamints offers berry, spearmint and peppermint mints wrapped in a verse of scripture. Bible Gum promises consumers they can chew their way to spiritual enlightenment. Each box comes with a scripture verse.
But water, central to religious experiences, had not fully tapped the growing faith-inspired market.
Across the spiritual spectrum, water is used for baptisms and blessings, ordinations and ritual cleansing. “
Water just made sense,” Taieb says. “Everybody always has bottled water with them. In the car. At home. In the gym. Because it’s the most important liquid for the body. The ingredients are the image and the prayer, which is for your body and soul. It’s water from God. It purifies your soul and helps you to think positive.