Bottled water company eyes global exports

Feb 18, 2010 | B2C, Brunei, Clients

Rawi Ahmed (R) and Lawrence Chong (2nd R) from Consulus Pte Ltd exchanging MoU documents with Superwater Marketing Sdn Bhd’s Pg Hjh Mariam Pg Bendahara Pg Muda Hashim (L) and Yong Teck Foo (2nd L) at The Empire Hotel & Country Club. Guest of honour Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar, Director General of the Public Works Department, witnessed the signing.

Bandar Seri Begawan – A Bruneian company has partnered with a Singapore-based business consultancy to export bottled water from Brunei using the Sultanate’s tropical wealth and charms for its market positioning.

Superwater Sdn Bhd and Singapore-based Consulus Pte Ltd yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together to market bottled Bruneian water globally by the end of this year.

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

Lawrence Chong, director of strategy development at Consulus, said he believes that this is 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,” he told The Brunei Times in an interview.

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.

“It’s a huge market out there. People may not see it now but even in Malaysia, there are times when water needs to be rationed. So I think for Bruneian perspective, it may not make a lot of sense to go with water, but for people outside, it makes a lot of sense because water is rare and precious,” he said.

The director added that Brunei is sitting on one of the most pristine and well maintained water basins of the world – in the Temburong forest – and that is a strong marketing value for the product.

Consulus is targeting people who are looking for a slightly different experience. The aim is to offer an alternative to other brands of bottled water out there like Evian.

“We’re not trying to sell water with vitamins, we are going to sell unique sources of water. From the rainwater perspective, it is interesting because the natural water cycle seen constantly by Bruneians doesn’t happen everywhere,” Chong said.

Superwater was selected by Consulus because it showed to be a promising small and medium enterprise and it is doing a partnership model based on revenue sharing.

“This is not a consultancy project … We chose the best company to work with and it’s 10 per cent of revenue for everything sold, which is what we’re working for,” he said.

Consulus also sees this as an opportunity of building on the water heritage of Brunei because water is an under-appreciated resource, it is older than oil but seldom mentioned, said Chong.

In addition to that, history showed that Brunei always used water as a means of livelihood.

“There is immense and tremendous opportunities but water is water, you have to sell it through experience – history and unique product design -then the chances of it succeeding internationally is much higher,” said Chong.

In the partnership, Super-water will be in charge of sourcing product quality and management of the entire process.

Consulus will be responsible for the brand, business model, product design, marketing and packaging the product internationally.

“It’s a win-win situation … it’s a good product to begin with so there is a synergy there,” he said.

Yong Teck Foo, managing director of Superwater, said that earlier on, they tried to position themselves as a global brand but did not tell the unique story of Brunei’s water culture.

“So now, we agree with Consulus that Brunei does have this advantage and we need to tap into that and build an experience around it,” he said.

Yong said in his speech at the signing ceremony that Brunei does not have sufficient market size to support this business.

“From the beginning, we have set out to try and get these products on shelves of supermarkets overseas. It has not been easy because retailers are spoilt for choices. As an emerging company we do not have the resources to compete and that is why we are taking this bold step with Consulus,” he said.

Superwater was formed in 2005 and currently produces super oxygenated bottled water under the name RainFresh with the latest technology of water treatment plant from Germany.

Consulus is one of Asia’s leading brand consultancies for business management and design services.– Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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