December 14, 2005
Product Naming: Bad What?
Naturally sparkling Badoit spring water is "one of the foremost table waters in France," but the company faces a two-level problem in the U.S. market.
First is the issue of pronunciation. Americans have a tendency to mangle French words, and "Badoit" is likely to come out as "bad-oyt" or "bad-what" instead of "bah-dwah." This isn't an insurmountable problem: after all, Americans had to be taught to pronounce "Perrier" and "Nike." As long as Badoit has the budget for the radio and TV campaigns required to get a critical mass of people pronouncing the name correctly, they can handle that problem.
The second problem is not so easily overcome. Even pronounced correctly, the name is still perilously close to "bad water"-exactly the wrong thing for customers to be thinking of. "Badoit" also sounds rather like "boudoir"-again, a long way from a drink to be ordered in a fine restaurant. To Germans, for whom "Bad" means "bath," the name may conjure images of taking the waters in an ancient spa town, but for English speakers, the name "Badoit" is a liability.
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