YouGov: Singapore Airlines defies pandemic headwinds to rank best brand in 2020

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has once again topped YouGov Best Brands list for the third year in a row. Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, YouGov said the national carrier remains Singapore's healthiest brand with a score of 60.5. In recent times, SIA Group has posted an 80.4% year-on-year decline in revenue to SG$1,634 million in the first half of the financial year. Passenger flown revenue fell sharply as SIA, SilkAir and Scoot were severely impacted by restrictions on international travel. This was partially offset by stronger cargo flown revenue which increased by 28.3%. Overall, the group witnessed an operating loss of SG$1,863 million for the first half of the year, a SG$2,276 million reversal from an operating profit of SG$413 million in 2019.

Additionally, it also reduced about 4,300 positions across the three airlines. The steps taken to reduce the number of staff included salary cuts, recruitment freeze, open vacancies that were not filled, an early retirement scheme and a voluntary release scheme for staff. The measures reduced the number of staff impacted by the manpower rationalisation exercise to around 2,000. The group incurred a cost of SG$42 million in the exercise.

Despite the headwinds, it continued with efforts to drive growth in non-airline revenue streams, including the launch of Kris+, a platform to power growth for the KrisFlyer business, trip-planning and booking platform Pelago, as well as cargo logistics platform Parxl. At the same time, it also unveiled the Discover Your Singapore Airlines suite of experiences, which comprises three initiatives that have been specially curated for consumers in Singapore. The initiatives include a dining experience inside the Airbus A380, SIA@Home, and behind-the-scenes tour of its training facilities.

Following its slew of on-ground initiatives rolled out in recent months, the Singapore Airlines Academy is also offering training programmes in the broad areas of digital transformation, service excellence, operational excellence, as well as organisational innovation to external businesses and organisations. Meanwhile just last week, the national carrier successfully raised SG$850 million via a convertible bond issue that has been placed with a variety of institutional investors.

Coming in second and third were WhatsApp (56.1) and Changi Airport (55.0). Other Singaporean brands in the top 10 are FairPrice at fourth (50.7), which appeared on the list for the first time, as well as Channel NewsAsia in seventh place (42.7) and Gardens by the Bay at ninth (39.9). Meanwhile, YouTube and Facebook came in sixth and eighth.

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The rankings are based on the Index score from YouGov BrandIndex, which constantly measures overall brand health. The score takes into account consumers’ perception of a brand’s overall quality, value, impression, reputation, satisfaction and whether consumers would recommend the brand to others.

The YouGov BrandIndex also revealed that Shopee was this year's most improved brand with a 14.1 increase in score. Dettol came in at a close second with an increase of 10.0. Another disinfectant brand Lifebuoy also made the list of improvers, coming in at fourth with a 6.3 increase in points.

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Ervin Ha, YouGov APAC's head of data products said like many airlines, the national carrier has undoubtedly faced financial hardships, but the rankings show the power of a strong brand.

"While others may have struggled with the changing fortunes of 2020, one brand which has benefitted from consumers forced to stay at home is Shopee, indicating a shift for shopping from brick and mortar stores to online. Shopee is not only Singapore’s most improved brand this year, it is also the eighth healthiest brand in the world," he added. The rankings are drawn from interviews conducted between October 2019 and September 2020. Each day consumers are asked their view on 453 brands in Singapore.

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