Analysis: Not just thematic or localised for the sake of it, say brands ahead of National Day

With 9 August around the corner, brands are upping their patriotic antics launching new localised products. Burger King and Deliveroo decided to partner up to launch a foodie jigsaw puzzle that features iconic Singapore landmarks. Local alcohol manufacturer Tiger Beer also launched a seasonal “Orchid Brew”, which was said to be inspired by Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim. Meanwhile, Starbucks Singapore has also launched its Shiok! campaign, which features a slew of localised products such as its pink “Shiok-ah-ccino” beverage, Milo Dinosaur cake, and the Impossible Rendang Pie, to name a few. 

In a conversation with Marketing, Starbucks' director, marketing and category, Ruth Yam said, localisation is not an on-trend gimmick for the brand, but rather "there is always a local touch in everything Starbucks does". For example, Starbucks will soon be launching its mooncakes in line for mid-autumn festival. Localisation, for the brand, is an important pillar as it helps the brand to connect more intimately with its customers and community. Embracing localisation as a crucial tool and priority, Yam said Starbucks’ marketing strategy aims to "uplift everyday moments"  and "elevate its coffee experiences" to suit customers’ changing lifestyles and preferences through locally relevant formats, flavors, and innovative offerings.

Aside from curating food and drinks with a local twist, Starbucks’ localisation efforts can be seen in its store designs. Yam said that its Jewel Changi Airport store was heavily inspired by Singapore culture and peppered with iconic Singaporean motifs, such as the Peranakan-themed wall that spells out “Singapore” and a Siren mural incorporating local touches like the Vanda Miss Joaquim. Similarly, its store at Paya Lebar Quarter was inspired by the location of the store and features design inspirations showcasing the history of its location as an air base.

In a similar strategy, Tiger Beer also heightened its localisation strategy with its experiential concept store, the “Tiger Street Lab” at Jewel Changi. A series of seasonal brews inspired by local flavours of Singapore is launched every quarter exclusively at Tiger Street Lab, according to Faye Wee, marketing director, Asia Pacific Breweries. Each new edition is also said to reinforce its brand identity as one that is innovative and progressive.

In keeping with the evolving seasonal brews, Tiger Street Lab also features different local street food chefs and a refreshed menu on a bi-annual basis. “We see Tiger Street Lab as a canvas for both established and up-and-coming local talents to showcase their work and skills on an international stage at Jewel – across all fields such as fashion, art and food,” Wee told Marketing.

We take a consumer- and trend-centric approach by staying tuned in to the interest of aspirational drinkers and be updated on evolving trends.

Wee added that this helps the brand to shape its marketing strategies and ensure that its campaigns are relevant to the local consumer, who is always on the lookout for immersive content and engaging experiences. As such, Tiger Beer has always been big on its localisation efforts. This can be seen by its release of 20 limited-edition Tiger district bottles, each emblazoned with a district landmark and icon that resonated with Singaporeans.

“We connect to Singapore and Singaporeans by striving to speak the language of our people and championing our local talent by collaborating with local artists. Our authenticity and genuinity keeps us grounded without being seen as ‘trying too hard’,” Wee said.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to localisation. It’s all about being relevant and meaningful to your audience.

Wee added that Tiger Beer stays relevant to its existing consumers by creating meaningful connections across multiple touchpoints with them, while striving to be progressive and innovative to meet the needs of new target audience groups such as local Millennials.

When it comes to increasing localisation efforts, Wee advised brands to stay aware and on top of local trends and headlines, so that they can be agile when opportunity arises, and create relevant offerings that strike the right chord with Singaporeans. “It’s essential to have an in-depth understanding of your audience and environment so as to create the right message for the right platforms at the right time,” she said, adding that most importantly, brands need to stay true to its DNA, as authenticity is what conscious consumers are on the lookout for.

Maintaining brand positioning amidst growth and progression is key to winning over your consumers.

Tiger Beer is not the only brand having its finger on the pulse when it comes to its localisation efforts. UNIQLO Singapore has also taken the current situation of the COVID-19 to launch localised products. This can be seen by the brand’s collaboration with local artist “MindFlyer”, who created six t-shirt designs depicting Singaporeans’ “new normal” situation now. Designs of the shirts include wearing a mask while taking the public transport, and working from home.

Meanwhile, ahead of National Day, UNIQLO also went big with local collaboration, and tied up with local embroidery patch designers, Pew Pew Patches, to give away iron-on patches this National Day. Knowing Singaporean's love for Sanrio characters, the patches feature characters such as Hello Kitty and My Melody alongside local favourites such as the iconic ice-cream sandwich, teh tarik, and kueh tutu. UNIQLO has also collaborated with local artist Mandy Kew to create eight food designs to be printedon its T-shirts come end of August, in line with Singapore Tourism Board’s Singapore Food Festival.

While localisation can be tricky, UNIQLO’s marketing director Joyce Tan, who recently took on the role, said localising the UNIQLO brand has been “so much more seamless” compared to other brands she has worked on. She added that the fashion retailer focuses on three key aspects in Singapore: providing Japanese craftsmanship at accessible prices, offering essential clothing with simple styles so much as that it empowers every individual’s style, and ensuring its products are made for all consumers.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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