Tell us about Aqua de Fonte. When was it started? What kind of market research went into creating the brand?

Aqua de Fonte is a youthful and energetic brand in the packaged drinking water market in UAE, targeted particularly at the urban middle-class segment.

We launched Aqua de Fonte in 2017. The decision to venture into this space was the outcome of our strong intent to build a home-grown brand in the fast-growing food and beverage industry in UAE and establish a business footprint in the consumer space. We saw this as a smart move to diversify our business portfolio.

Starting with a capacity of 5,000 bottles per hour (BPH), we have grown to 30,000 BPH at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located at the Dubai Investment Park 2. In the last one year, with an expanded distribution and logistics network, we have witnessed tremendous growth across all the channels.

Though we were a new entrant in the bottled water segment, we quickly established a foothold in the market on the basis of focussed market study. The research was centred on the key success factors for a packaged water business, that is brand identity, colour scheme, packaging, distribution channel partners, on-trade and off-trade service formats and competitive offerings. It was a hands-on exercise with direct involvement and oversight from the promoters and advisors to draw inferences on the basis of authentic and real market data and insights. Aggressive brand promotion certainly helped create a unique brand identity.

What kind of need did you see in the market that you envisioned to fulfil?

There already were established brands and players serving the UAE market when we launched Aqua de Fonte in 2017. Rather than fulfilling a need in terms of un-serviced or underserviced segments of the market, we saw an opportunity in positioning ourselves as a modern refreshing brand with high levels of brand awareness and appeal among the end users.

Aqua de Fonte has created new pockets of demand from new customer segments with its innovative packaging solutions

Aqua de Fonte focussed on getting product placement right across key service formats and establish strong brand recall with proactive customer engagement campaigns run by our marketing team and supply chain partners. Additionally, we have been able to create new pockets of demand from new customer segments with our innovative packaging solutions. As I mentioned earlier, our strategy to position Aqua de Fonte as youthful and energetic brand has created a key differentiator in the market that attracts consumer attention.

Where do you source your water from?

We source our water from Dewa – Dubai Electricity & Water Authority.

What treatment does it undergo before it is bottled?

Our process starts with raw water which goes through various filtrations and treatment units such as RO and UV, then it is dosed with minerals before it goes into bottle filling.

What makes your brand unique in terms of taste, quality?

Over the past three years, Aqua de Fonte bottled water has created a niche for itself and won customer loyalty primarily because of its quality, taste, consistency and smart packaging.

The water has a distinctive natural taste which gives a refreshing feeling to the consumer.

We adhere to the highest level of operational standards in the industry and our plant setup compares with the best in class internationally in terms of efficiency and hygiene. These standards allow us to certainly differentiate Aqua de Fonte from the rest of the competition.

The water market is highly competitive and highly price conscious. How do you plan to meet those challenges?

Tight control on the costs, process efficiencies, economies of scale, right customer mix across retail and institutional segments allows to position Aqua de Fonte at the right price point in the market.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?

As Aqua de Fonte gains traction and brand equity, we will leverage this strength and appeal to launch new products in allied markets and customer segments. For instance, responding to increased demand for hygiene accessories in this pandemic times, we launched Aqua de Fonte brand of hand tissues just last week.

We are also drawing plans to enter the fresh and natural juices segment in 2021. We are working on a strategy blueprint which will see Aqua de Fonte label gain prominent shelf space across leading supermarkets and hypermarkets formats in the UAE. In terms of distribution channels, we plan to substantially enhance our distribution fleet so as to cater to wider geography in UAE and aggressively expand to other GCC countries. Already we are official beverage partners of many A-league hotels across UAE and will be aggressively expanding in this space.

More importantly, we intend to enrich our team with key leadership talent in marketing and strategy functions with experience in B2C space which will enable us to execute our brand growth and distribution expansion plans.

"I can assure you that Aqua de Fonte will become the fastest-growing bottled water brand in the UAE in the years to come."

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