Brunei - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices used in selling in this market, including sales material that needs to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2021-09-26

U.S. exporters to Brunei face strong competition from producers in China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, especially when marketing food and agricultural products. As a former British protectorate, Brunei has deep trade connections and familiarity with the UK and Commonwealth nations and their products. However, the market is diversifying.

To differentiate themselves from local and third country competitors, U.S. firms should emphasize their strengths in quality, innovation, technology enhancements, and customer service. Bruneian customers have come to expect higher quality products from U.S. companies. Customers may choose U.S. products and services on the basis of “value for money,” not solely on cost factors.

Brunei’s government is eager to increase FDI as it seeks to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons. BEDB has identified several key industry clusters it plans to develop within the export-oriented manufacturing and services sectors, including pharmaceuticals, food, petrochemicals, renewable energy, ICT, and higher education. Foreign firms are often encouraged to bid for projects.

When marketing general consumer goods, U.S companies should keep in mind the cultural norms and standards of the Bruneian population. For example, a majority of the population is Muslim, which means that food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics must be certified halal (meaning lawful and permissible to use/consume under Islamic law) in order to appeal to a larger market. Brunei’s

definition of halal is, in some cases, distinct from other Muslim-majority countries. Information about Brunei’s halal certification process can be found on the Brunei Religious Council’s website.

It is advisable to conduct research on the possible implications of advertising or promotional activities before initiating them in Brunei. Bruneians are very active on social networks, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and these can be important marketing tools as customers often rely more on these social networks for information on businesses than they do on traditional marketing sources.

Selling techniques vary according to the industry or the product involved, but they are comparable to the techniques used in any other sophisticated market. To gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, U.S. firms should develop and maintain good customer relationships. In-person meetings with key contacts in the government and the private sector can be helpful in developing and maintaining these relationships. Industry events, trade shows, and product expos are also common and provide good opportunities to reach customers and potential business partners. Bruneian customers flock to coupons, VIP discount cards, and special deals.