By Goh De No (Published 30 November 2010 in The Brunei Times)

A Brunei-branded bottled water capitalising on the nation’s pristine forest wealth and charms will hit the overseas markets by February.

Bruneian company Superwater Marketing and Singapore brand consultancy Consulus planned to market the bottled water to position Brunei as one of the authentic, reliable sources of fresh water, Lawrence Chong, director of strategy at Consulus, told The Brunei Times.

He said the brand would have a Bruneian design.

“That’s what we are pushing for, that’s country branding. The brand is premium and will represent the pureness of the country and sincerity of its people,” he said.

He added the brand concept would represent the real values of the Bruneian culture.

“It’s really very interesting and we are quite happy about how it’s developed. Consulus is happy with the work done here as we are working with people who really try their best to do something new,” he said.

Chong said water is a key characteristic in Brunei as the Sultanate is sometimes known as the “Venice of the East”, with strong aspects of history and culture with regards to water.

“We found a product that is not too costly and will give an upper to medium experience (not premium). We also have a good base to start with as water source is very reliable in Brunei,” he said, adding however that the concept would be the key.

In penetrating the export market, the business would build on the country’s cultural assets, heritage and reputation for preserving rainforests.

Chong said he believes that this was Brunei’s chance to show “something different and unique” to the world.

“Why water? Because only one per cent of the world’s water is fresh and available for us and Brunei is sitting on one part of that here in Borneo. The other parts are in Africa and Latin America. Brunei has been blessed with this rainforest region and I think sometimes it may be taken for granted because people are going over conflicts about water in other places,” Chong said during the signing ceremony with Superwater Marketing here in February .

Brunei is a rare case in the world with an abundance of water that eventually will be a rare commodity, Chong explained.

Now is the time, he said, to start and position Brunei as one of the authentic, reliable sources of fresh water.

One of the cities Consulus is short-listing for the launch of the bottled water is Japan because of the Japanese’ appreciation for health, cleanliness, quality and source.

“If not, it will probably be one of the European cities because these are the places you convince people you have a unique, quality source,” said Chong.

Superwater Marketing Deputy General Manager Ann Chieng previously told The Brunei Times that many European and Japanese companies have come up with a water brand, which Brunei can also do because of the country’s pristine environment.

“Brunei remains pristine and unpolluted, which gives us the perfect base for growing our business. Water, when managed well, is a resource and growth is exponential. That growth then can contribute to the country’s economy,” she said.

Currently churning out 30,000 cartons of water a month at its small factory in Mulaut, Superwater Marketing planned to ramp up production to 100,000 per month to take into account overseas demand.

General Manager Hj Abdul Hadi added that the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources had played a big role to help the firm.

“They always encourage a company to grow. The government is supportive and has numerous incentives. They assist small to medium enterprises with schemes if we export and give us preferential rates for containers when shipping is involved. When we import machinery, it’s tax free,” he said.