Temasek puts a twist to typical convenience store as part of sustainability efforts

Temasek Shophouse, a co-working space created by the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings, Temasek Trust, has launched The [Not So] Convenience Store to encourage consumers to rethink their habits of convenience.

Done in collaboration with Kinetic Singapore, the exhibition is set up to simulate a typical convenience store. However, the products on offer are sustainable alternatives which will require more effort on the consumer: whether it is about making conscious consumer decisions, changing ingrained habits or going out of their way to be less wasteful. According to Kinetic Singapore, it gave a twist to the usual convenience store name to pique curiosity, attract attention and invite a double take.

The concept of the convenience store, which will open until 31 July, was based on the insight that Singapore’s culture of convenience is the “culprit” behind the massive waste problem the world faces. Through this exhibition, Temasek and Kinetic Singapore hope to bring the message to the public through a tongue-in-cheek manner, which resulted in the birth of The [Not-So] Convenience Store.

Meanwhile, consumers can also show their support for the store and encourage others to be more eco-friendly by using the Instagram GIF stickers created by Kinetic Singapore. The stickers can be found by searching “notsoconveniencestore”.

Drawing from the visual language of convenience stores, the logo uses a similar type of bold font. Adding a mnemonic touch, the “O” is made of arrows inspired by those seen in recycling symbols, signifying the eco-friendly spirit of the store. The “O” also references the closed loop of a circular economy where resources are used, reused and repurposed to their fullest extent to eliminate waste.

Meanwhile, the colours of the store are inspired by the colours of the “Towards Zero Waste” logo and also simulates the look and feel of typical convenience stores. Kinetic also chose to use illustrations to soften the approach when touching on the topic of sustainability, and create a welcoming vibe for visitors. It also makes for an unexpected juxtaposition against the store’s cheeky headlines that add a twist to standard customer service mottos.

In a statement to Marketing, Kinetic’s spokesperson said it received a brief to conceptualise a sustainable store that aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Temasek’s vision of an ABC World of Active economies Beautiful societies and a Clean Earth. By presenting sustainable alternatives to everyday seemingly-convenient products, the store hopes to highlight how Singapore’s culture of convenience contributes to global warming and climate change. This includes Singaporeans’ high dependence on single-use plastics, low recycling and reuse habits and constant desire for new electronic gadgets.

Another thing that is unique about the store, according to the spokesperson, is that nothing is actually sold there. All products can be bought directly from the partners’ eCommerce product page. In fact, the store recommends consumers reuse existing items at home instead of purchasing new ones.

The products selected cover different categories of waste: food, electronic, household and packaging. Many of these items, including composting kits, beeswax wraps and bamboo straws, were selected to show different ways of how consumers can move towards a zero waste lifestyle. According to Kinetic’s spokesperson, they are a great introduction on day-to-day items that consumers can use and learn how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“We’ve also included how the ‘price of convenience’ has a tremendously negative impact on the environment. These bite-sized pieces of information give our habits of convenience a very real context that consumers can relate to,” the spokesperson added.
When asked about its marketing strategies, Kinetic Singapore said the store relies heavily on a combination of organic and strategic partnerships, and word-of-mouth has been very important in promoting the store.

The two companies that have expanded into the Shophouse are Miniwiz. Miniwiz turns post-consumer and industrial waste to create products and is opening its first Southeast Asia office in the Shophouse. Meanwhile, investment fund ABC World Asia aims to support ventures with a positive social and environmental impact, Shanmugaratnam said. Both companies aim to seek more innovative solutions for sustainability.

“The sustainability and zero waste community in Singapore is an active and vocal one, and we’re very honoured to partner with some very outstanding individuals and brands. The organic reach has been great so far—our store partners have been very forthcoming in talking about The [Not-So] Convenience Store,” Kinetic’s spokesperson said.

The Temasek Shophouse was officially launched on 3 June this year in a bid to become a cradle for social impact in Singapore, senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said during the launch. He added that the Shophouse aims to stimulate new ways in which Singaporeans can contribute to the global good and the concept of the Shophouse is “quite appropriate” as most of the nation’s early social clans were housed in shophouses.

Shanmugaratnam added that the second aim of the Shophouse is to champion new models of philanthropy, and an important part of philanthropy is to build up capabilities. He said that part of the ambition of the Shophouse is to support capacity-building in the charity sector. It is working with the Commissioner of Charities (COC), to provide shared services and consultation clinics by the centre for Non-Profit Leadership and the Chartered Secretaries Institute of Singapore at the Shophouse. Shanmugaratnam added that COC plans to make this a one-stop, shared services hub for charities, helping them on governance needs, and to focus on delivering impact for the people and communities they serve.

(Photo courtesy: Kinetic’s Facebook page)