The idea to create a luxury product arose when Norwegian-American entrepreneur and former Wall Street analyst Jamal Quereshi was vacationing in Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Today, he is busy harvesting iceberg water in the vicinity of Svalbard's capital Longyearbyen. The product sells online and has already been picked up by the London-based luxury department store Harrods.
Co-investor Terje Aunevik told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet that the stiff pricing reflects the importance of storytelling and exclusivity, since Svalbardi, which is produced and bottled at the 79th parallel north, is clearly "not just another bottle of water."
"We're talking luxury segment here. There are about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world who basically do not drink alcohol. It's actually a huge market for non-alcoholic beverage concepts that can be used for great occasions," Terje Aunevik told Dagbladet.
Professor Fred Selnes, a marketing expert at the BI Norwegian Business School, maintained that the luxury category has its own logic.
"These are symbols sold for customers to display, which imply 'Look what I can afford' or 'Look how clever I am.' Once you have a lot of money, the cost does not really matter," Fred Selnes told Dagbladet.
However, despite its sparkling prospects, Svalbardi has already come under fire from environmental activists. Only one in five of Svalbardi bottles gets recycled, the Water Project NGO maintained. The criticism also involves ethical issues, as many believe it to be disrespectful and profane to make money on water from one of the world's most pristine areas, while millions of people live without access to clean water. On the other hand, Svalbardi has been certified as a zero-emission business by CarbonNeutral and reportedly supports a number of environmental projects involving, among others, efforts to promote the availability of clean water in Uganda.
If you thought that Svalbardi was the world's most expensive water, then consider Fillico Jewelry Water, which costs almost twice as much.
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