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Study: 90% in SG believe brands can make the world a better place

Study: 90% in SG believe brands can make the world a better place

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As one of the world's most dynamic global hubs, Singapore has seen a marked transformation in the way the country's consumers react to economic, technological, and social change as well as their expectations from brands.

In fact, 81% of Singaporeans believe those not learning about AI will be left behind. 90% of Singaporeans also believe that global brands have the power to inspire compassion and empathy to make the world a better place.

This was according to a "Truth about Singapore" report from McCann Worldgroup Singapore which uncovered key consumer insights, outlining the profound shifts that are taking place in work and culture in the city state.

Don't miss: Study: SG consumers don't think businesses are transparent on their use of AI

The findings were derived from over 243,579 unique data points across a survey of 2,035 Singaporeans and was collected over two years, in three waves. To further understand Singapore's unique societal fabric, McCann also ran three focus groups in Singapore, each group representing Singaporeans from different walks of life and age groups.

Eleven expert interviews were also conducted, including insights from cultural tastemakers, innovators in technology and business, human resource professionals, academics, and advocates for mental health and climate change.

As consumer behaviour changes, it is important for brands and organisations to understand how they can better position themselves to respond to Singaporeans' changing needs. These are some key trends the study uncovered.

1. Understanding realities and reactions

As Singapore's economy and society continue to transform, demographic shifts highlight several key challenges that brands, marketers and the Singaporean government will need to address. 

The biggest concern of Singaporeans is the rise in cost-of-living, and inflationary prices that have generated dissatisfaction and anxiety about the future and of living in Singapore. 

33% of Singaporeans see citizenship as a core part of their identity. In tandem, 68% are more inclined to trust the government more than their employers, for its policies on economic stability, social cohesion, and pursuit of continuous improvement.

Singapore's globalised outlook and companies' strategic partnerships with key nations around the world have also enabled Singapore to take on the position of a pathfinder nation, bringing unique business opportunities to the region enabled by governmental support, it said. 

Despite successes, cost-of-living remains a major issue, alongside racial issues. Although the country is known for its diverse population and multicultural identity, 52% of Singaporeans have felt tokenised at work, which can lead to micro aggressive behaviours in the workplace. 

A growing wealth and class gap also raises concern, which might be attributed to the country's constant pursuit of progress. Singaporeans have thus looked to brands to help them find a way forward, the report stated. Additionally, it found that a staggering 90% of Singaporeans believe global brands have the power to inspire compassion and empathy to make the world a better place. 

2. Addressing the digital threat  

Adding to the stress of demographic changes are technological ones, namely with the proliferation of AI and its increased adoption by businesses in Singapore. 

81% of Singaporeans believe those not learning about AI will be left behind, with 75% of Singaporeans stating that if their job were to disappear tomorrow, they believe the world would not notice.

Many Singaporeans are also inclined to use AI, particularly for eCommerce, preferring the multiplicity of online platforms, and tailored customisations.

The wide adoption to technology in the country has also seen social interactions shift, with 74% of Singaporeans stating that they put on a different persona to fit in at work and an increasing lack of real-world friendships. 

The report found that one in two Singaporeans would be open to befriending robots, with Gen Z and younger generations harnessing online platforms to build connections and identities. 

3. Reevaluating purpose

As the workplace evolves, it has introduced new levels of work-related anxiety as more Singaporeans search for what they want from work – as well as what meaningful employment means. While Singapore's multicultural and globally focused environment has made it attractive to foreign MNCs, the high stressors of life in Singapore also means a fast pace of life and heightened competitiveness. 

Sentiments about work and career remain a mixed bag, as people work harder with less pay off, threatening burnouts. More Singaporeans are finding greater disengagement with their careers, and seek a better work-life balance that does not threaten their mental and physical well-being. 

How a brand treats their employees is also a key factor in shaping consumer preferences, with two in three consumers divesting away from brands that treat employees poorly. 

A gap between companies and workers lies at the core of the issue, as more Singaporeans (75%) begin to question their value within a company.

McCann's report once more finds that issues of compassion and emotional intelligence threaten Singapore's societal progress, and explains that companies must adopt a more holistic approach in retaining employees and creating better work environments. 

4. Navigating the clash between traditional and modern ideals

A deep demographic shift has also seen a clash between traditional and modern familial ideals, which will be a key shift to navigate. 

Family has consistently reigned as Singaporeans' top priority, although, there are growing sentiments amongst younger families to not have children. While other countries in Asia do not face this issue, this paradox raises a complex set of issues for Singaporeans, with 75% firmly believing that everyone bears the responsibility to have children, in addition to rising cost-of-living and a growing desire for independence as key factors.

Singapore's growing ageing population has also seen 81% of Singaporeans citing worries about how they can care for the older generation and taking on the role of a primary caregiver.

While mental health is a national concern, the culture of taboo around it sees it as a topic rarely discussed between families, in spite of 17% of children today seeking mental health professional services.

McCann's report asks marketers to think about how brands can better support Singapore and their familial and mental health concerns. 

“The best creative work is often a celebration of a truth in the world. ‘The Truth About Singapore’ unearths more hidden gems for creativity to flourish from, and is deeply rooted in the lived experiences of Singaporeans, including myself. Truths such as one in two Singaporeans express openness to building relationships with robots’ is a fact that could be leveraged by brands to create thought-provoking work that will spark timely conversations,” said Valerie Madon, chief creative officer, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific.

Join us on 12 June 2024 for an exciting experience as Content360 makes its debut in Malaysia! Brace yourself to join the crème de la crème of the content marketing industry hailing from across the region. Immerse yourself in a dynamic atmosphere, and uncover the latest trends with thought leaders and solution providers from the realm of content.

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