Local brands make SG shoppers feel more valued than international ones

More shoppers in Singapore feel valued by home-grown brands that they regularly shop with, as compared to the international brands. Among the 750 consumers surveyed, 32% expect local brands to show appreciation for their regular patronage, with a close 35% expecting the same of international brands.

When asked to rate their performance however, 26% say local brands actually deliver on this count, as opposed to only 19% for international brands.

This shows that even as brands’ actual performance trails behind consumers’ expectations across the board, local brands seem to be winning the hearts of more Singaporeans.

Nearly 22% of Singaporean consumers expect local brands to listen to them and 20% feel that they actually do, indicating a close match between expectations and reality. For international brands, however, the two metrics lie at 26% and 19% respectively, presenting a larger gap of 7%.

Bruno Tay, country manager of the global loyalty marketing agency ICLP, which commissioned the survey said:

We are seeing the emergence of true “local heroes” – home grown brands that are outperforming renowned international brands in listening to customers and making them feel valued.

“This is encouraging for homegrown brands, but there is still considerable room for creative enhancements in the way brands nurture loyalty and their relationships with Singaporean consumers,” he said.

The survey studies consumers’ preferences and their attitudes towards a range of local and global brands by asking Singaporean consumers to rate their retail experience with brands on seven core relationship criteria, namely recognition, rewards, reciprocity, reliability, respect, trust and communication.

Local brands named in the study include NTUC FairPrice, Robinsons, and Cold Storage; while international brands include Uniqlo, ZARA, and G2000.

The fight for hearts in the retail space

Singapore’s cosmopolitan retail sector has seen numerous international players invest aggressively in island-wide expansion in recent years, even as longstanding home-grown brands such as John Little are forced to bow out.

All retailers, however, have had to confront a difficult retail environment and demanding consumers who still tend to see their relationship with brands in transactional terms. Twice as many Singaporean consumers consider themselves to be in a "devoted" relationship with local brands (4%) as those with global brands (2%), but the vast majority still do not show such signs of loyalty and potential for advocacy altogether.

Tay said:

Singaporean customers are exposed to a wide variety of choices and as such, customers are less inclined to pledge their loyalty.

“In this digital era, brands need to communicate with consumers, to listen to what they want. On this scale, local brands appear to fare better because of their deeper resonance, but this could also be because global brands have not seized the opportunity to establish stronger local relevance with customers in their product offerings, communications, and campaigns,” said Tay.

He added that despite the international brands’ global recognition and resources, they are not seen to be leveraging those resources any better than local retailers in recognising individual consumers for their loyalty. Both local and international brands, he said, need to make better use of the data they are collecting from customers – by finding ways to lend a personal touch to each customer and offering tailored promotions and services that lie within the appropriate contexts in the customer journey.