EDITORIAL: The Product is not Water, it is Service

For several months now the most talked about issue in media revolves around the problems of the Metro Naga Water District: purchase of property, management, board of directors, water charges, and other related public and stakeholder concerns. A new manager has been installed, and plans to replace the board of directors are being considered, but the issues have been perpetuated.

This is a pity. We have expanded the issues into politics and technical subjects. We have forgotten the basic and fundamental method of analysis; in spite of the fact that there are learned people and scholars among the Metro Naga public.

There seems to be a failure of marketing, for whatever reason. But I think we have forgotten, or simply think that discussing basic market principles will debase our school diplomas especially if we have master’s or doctorate degrees. In fact, this is our biggest problem as Filipinos, some highly educated among us want to fly the like the eagles but forget the reason why Eagles fly high in the sky: to survey and focus on their prey.

The basic elements of marketing are discussed even in undergraduate courses - the P’s: product, people, packaging, promotion, price, and performance. Evidently analysts and commentators fail to apply these basic principles in their investigation of the water district. But a keen student of marketing will focus on knowing and understanding the Product: what is really the product of the water district? This is a simple question, but the answer to this is surprisingly revealing.

The swift answer that you will gather is WATER, and this is where the problem is. Water is a natural product. It is supposed to be free, as a gift of God, it must not have a price, and hence it cannot be a subject of commerce with a market price. It can only be the subject of business if we add labour as a human intervention.

The product of water districts is SERVICE. Hence, the analysis and discussions must focus on the kind, or how efficient and effective the delivery of service of the company to its consumers is. It is only by defining the quantity and quality of water distribution that we can identify and solve the industry’s problem; because water can only be a market commodity with a price if we can measure the kind and amount of human intervention added to it from the source to the water taps or bottles that reach the consumer market.