Consumer Watch

Understanding your consumer can help you create better products and services.

The Singaporean consumer decision process


Stage 1- Do I need this? Do my friends own this? Singaporeans have a need to express individuality and conformity concurrently due to the deeply rooted Asian collectivism and the new influx of American Individuality. This influences their definition of ‘need’ and their ‘desire’ for ownership of a product or service. The recognition of a need is the first and most important step in the buying process. This recognition of need occurs when there is a difference between the consumer’s actual situation and the ideal and desired one. The more substantial the difference, the higher the likelihood for purchase. However, the “way” (product price, ease of acquisition, etc.) to obtain this ideal situation has to be perceived as “acceptable” by the consumer based on the amount of importance he attributes to the need. (F. Perreau,


Types of needs can be classified as 1) Functional, 2) Social (especially in Asian societies), 3) Need for change




Stage 2- What’s out there! Singaporeans are constantly surrounded by brand advertorials throughout their day. Consumers start to list out other similar brands and products from memory, recommendations, previous positive brand experiences or online research (especially for new products/brands). The awareness of brands can happen through contact with a wide range of sources over a period of time. Consumers subconsciously interact with a brand both online and offline while they are commuting to work, reading the news, texting a friend and researching online etc. Through constant interaction with a brand, whether intentional or not, consumer’s decisions are subconsciously influenced.


Online channel- Websites, Facebook, Blogs, Deals/Offers, Mobile Ads, Reviews etc.

Offline channel- Word-of-mouth, Maps etc.


Stage 3- Do I know anything about this product? Tell me more! What would my friends/family and even strangers think? Other people’s opinions matters! Constant reinforcement and assurance of making the right choice is needed. Asians are image conscious and place great value in “saving face”. As such, social sanctions have stronger impact on decisions. Asians tend to process information in a more circular and instinctive way.  It is important for them to take into account a multi-faceted array of factors in order to make decisions.  Decision-making is more of a social process in Asia, which extends over a longer period of time. Consumers are tech savvy and have easy to access information in Singapore. When starting to evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of a product, advocacy is now an increasingly powerful tool of persuasion! (The Impact of Culture on Brand Loyalty, 2010)


Stage 4- Shall I be loyal? The impact of culture on brand loyalty affects the manner in which Asians and Westerners regard brand loyalty. The collectivist values in Singapore are strong and in turn brand loyalty. However, due to the plethora of choices available in the market, a brand must be perceived to be of value (i.e. the utility gained by customer per unit of money spent) prior to a purchase. Moreover, with the prevalence of individualism in Singapore as mentioned earlier, consumers are increasingly more willing to give up loyalty to a brand when unsatisfied. When a customer has a great brand experience based on a previous purchase, it will be more likely for to make a repeat purchase due to trust being built between the brand and the consumer. However, that said, with rising individualism, consumers tend to switch between brands should they encounter a unique product of interest or receive many personal recommendations of the product through their social networks.


Step 5- I’m getting it! Upon receiving sufficient evaluation, reinforcement and assurance. A decision is made to purchase the product that is most appropriate to meet his needs (both emotional, social and practical). He will then proceed to the actual purchase itself. However, his Consumer Buying Decision Process can be influenced by other factors such as the quality of his shopping experience, the availability of a promotion, a return policy or good terms and conditions for the sale. Singaporeans respond well to promotions and offers as they are perceived to have greater value and provides greater satisfaction. For instance, a consumer committed to the idea of ​​buying a stereo of a well-known brand could change his decision if he has an unpleasant experience with sellers in the store. While a promotion in a supermarket for a yogurt brand could tip the scale for this brand in the consumer’s mind who was hesitating between three brands. (F. Perreau,


Step 6- Do I purchase again or shall I try something new? Should I recommend this? Once the product is purchased and used, the consumer will evaluate the adequacy with his original needs (those which caused the buying behaviour). Based on this evaluation, he will determine whether the right choice was made and will feel either satisfied or dissatisfied. This opinion that will influence his future decisions and buying behaviour. If the product has brought him satisfaction, there will be less of a barrier when deciding to purchase from the brand in future. This will produce customer loyalty.


As we have established, apart from direct brand contact, Singaporeans value the opinions and reviews given by friends and family. This step is of great importance to reach out to a customer’s social networks to increase brand awareness. Consumers in Singapore have both high Internet and Mobile Penetration. Internet users in Singapore view social network sites 3.1B times every month! Online reviews (blogging and forums) tend to be a favourable product feedback method after Word-of-Mouth recommendations. So make sure you provide your customer with the best brand experience!


References:, We are Social & Euromonitor Passport