The case for wellness marketing in Singapore

This post is sponsored by Havas

For anyone looking to live a high quality of life, wellness matters. It matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our wellbeing. And in today’s climate, now more than ever, this has become a highly recognised global concept, and an integral part of everyday life. In fact, it’s all that any of us are talking about in light of the current turmoil brought about by the pandemic.

Healthy living in Singapore is not just a trend – it’s a way of life for Singaporeans to save money and feel good about themselves. You need only look at the numbers to know that Singaporeans are serious about their health and wellbeing. The healthcare market in Singapore alone is worth $30 billion in 2020, a 9% increase on the year before.

To understand why wellness is so pertinent to Singapore and how brands can effectively leverage the insights on consumer attitudes and behaviour, it is helpful understand the socio-political and cultural context.

Socio-political and cultural context

The concept of health and wellness has deep roots in Singapore’s history, in its philosophy and governance policies. From the time of independence, the priorities were set very clearly and a desire for collective wellbeing and social harmony was always on the agenda (if not the top-most priority). This idea of the collective whole helped develop the role of healthcare and wellness in the overall progress of the nation and its practical implementation.

It is important to note that socio-political context is not a mindset, but a set of rules and obligations embedded into the culture gradually over the years, and hence, a fixed variable. It is deeply seated in the collective/societal psyche, but it is not something that people have much control over.

To completely understand the evolution of wellness into the psyche over the years, we need to understand how cultural nuances impact perceptions.

Hofstede’s model of National CultureTM – a theory created in 1980 by Dutch management researcher Geert Hofstede is handy to break down the different dimensions in which cultures vary. The model incorporates six categories that define culture: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence.

How do these play out in the context of Singaporean culture?

In terms of power distance, Singaporeans generally accept hierarchical structures and adhere to rules while its low individualism index suggests it operates with a collective mindset, as reflected in “shared values” of nation over community, and society over self.

No dominant value on the principle of masculinity dimension implies a balance between caring for others, and competition in society. As a society, it is generally unfazed by ambiguous circumstances as borne out by a low uncertainty avoidance score.

A strong long-term orientation score suggests a visionary economy backed by perseverance and a willingness to learn, while its lower than average indulgence score shows it is a selectively restricted society, governed by Asian principles of delaying present impulses for a promising future.

The individual’s context and interpreting it

Even though social, cultural, and political context shapes the norms and perceptions of wellness in society, wellness attitudes are determined by an individual’s context and their personal experiences embedded, and it is imperative to understand wellness and its constituents at an individual’s level.

What we find is that wellness manifests itself very differently at an individual level, heavily influenced by the individual’s stage of life. At this level, it is a dynamic process of conscious choices made towards a balanced lifestyle, which are represented in the framework below:

 

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The purpose of this framework is to provide a guide on how wellness can be defined, measured, and improved across each different demographic in Singapore. Other factors such as food and drink, habit formation, religion, shopping, entertainment, etc, can also be considered as part of the wellness space. However, their roles vary for each individual, and there is no common consensus that they contribute to a specific wellness indicator.

What does it mean for brands?

At present, the country is grappling with key issues such as an ageing population with an improved life expectancy, greater prevalence of lifestyle-related and chronic diseases, the rise of mental health illness, and family/work related stress that is impacting the quality of life.

All of which comes at a price to both the individual and the country.  

As a brand, if you can understand what wellness in Singapore means, who the key wellness audiences are, and discover how to address them with preventative healthcare and wellness benefits, you have a real opportunity to connect with consumers and generate advantageous business results.  

Understanding consumer segments through culture, category and brand, identifying influential touch-points in the consumer decision journey, and creating a results-driven content approach are key success factors for brands.

Conclusion

Singaporean consumers have a highly developed and sophisticated approach to wellness and wellness brands. They are discriminating and show a purposeful approach to selecting the brands and services which fit their needs, lifestyles and aspirations. This makes for a highly competitive market, and for wellness brands to succeed, they must develop a unified approach to advertising. From hyper-targeting through to extremely customised creative to campaign optimisation, advertising must be tailored precisely to the tastes and priorities of each target audience. Only by doing this can brands ensure  their message cuts through in the wellness marketplace.

 

The writer is Vineet Kumar, director of research and insights, Havas Group Singapore.

Havas Group Singapore and choice-driven advertising technology company Ogury partnered to uncover the state of health and wellness in Singapore. Click here for a full copy of the report.