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#SG50: How the community could have helped global brands

As the celebrations of SG50 are over, it is time for reflection on this incredibly meaningful and momentous milestone for Singaporeans. You only needed to witness the pride people take in wearing their national colors catching the MRT over the Jubilee period or the flags that were hoisted in buildings across the city.

It is during this time that local brands, and even global brands like McDonalds, attempted to attach themselves to nationalistic pride.

Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands research (1,000 brands, over 300,000 consumers, 34 countries) gives light to Singaporeans powerful attachment with everything local. This manifested itself in the most recent survey in 2015 where five of the top 10 brands were local. Fairprice and POSB topped the list while hypermarkets, Giant and Cold Storage followed close behind.

In fact, 49 per cent of Singaporeans expect brands to ‘notably improve their lives’ (compared to 41 per cent worldwide).

The dimensions of what makes a brand meaningful for local Singaporean brands is in stark contrast to global brands in the survey.

So, how have brands taken advantage of this across SG50?

Lessons from leading local brands

During the year, local brands like Fairprice, OCBC & POSB/DBS connect with every day attributes of saving time and making life easier. But as they move in to the Jubilee, we have seen them begin to connect on a more emotional level.

While not an SG50 themed campaign, POSB’s NeighboursFirst campaign clearly brings forward the community benefits of belonging in a year of national reflection.

The highest ranked meaningful brand, Fairprice, have chosen to highlight the stories of local heroes. Of particular note is the fact the brand uses it’s equity as an employer of local staff to full advantage.

Both brands here step outside of their usual functional and personal benefits to consumers to deepen trust through community.

Mixed success for global brands

Lets start with the ‘usual’ three most important drivers of Brand Equity from the survey:
1. It delivers what is promises / says
2. Offer good quality products / services
3. It is a leader in its category

Over SG50 Fast Food giants like McDonalds & Burger King, both give confidence as category leaders, innovating with special themed products. From special edition Hello Kitty ‘Crew” to Singapore favorite Twister Fries and free burgers, this is good but expected.

To really drive to a level where people would be ‘care’ of the brand disappear, they should look to show they ‘make a difference’ through the community areas demonstrated by our local brands.

They should look to how they could, over this time, deliver on some new attributes:
1. Socially committed – show how they have connected with local employees; or
2. Sustainable sourcing – Show how they source Singaporean meals from Singaporean suppliers

Brands that use these attributes will build strong attachment and deeper connections, in a country where only 36 per cent of new brands achieve trust.

Special mention must go to the highly publicised campaigns by Google & Lego. Going beyond their usual category leader attributes they have leveraged connection with the community, through participation.

What next?

Lego’s crowd sourced design competition had a look at SG100. Hopefully we don’t have to wait that long for these brands to inject some new meaningful attributes in to Singapore marketing.

The payoff ? For brands the reward will be business outcomes. As the research indicates, more trusted brands receive a higher share of wallet.

Josh Gallagher

Josh Gallagher is the Regional Strategy Director at Havas Media Group.
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