Faaez Samadi
Aug 28, 2019

Bringing back the bling: Luxury brands on the rise in Singapore

Experience and accessibility the key to Singaporeans rekindling their love for the finer stuff.

Bringing back the bling: Luxury brands on the rise in Singapore


Whatever the position a brand has in the hearts of local consumers, the constant refrain is that to survive, it must stay relevant. It doesn’t matter if you’re a car, a pair of shoes or a bar of soap, if you’re not meeting consumer expectations, it’s likely you won’t be around much longer.

Yet there are those brands which trade on their inaccessibility, their exclusivity, quite frankly their stubbornness, that even if consumers change, they will remain as they were, further heightening their haughty appeal. We are talking, of course, about luxury brands.

But recent times have seen even the luxury brands need to level up in terms of their offering, and in Singapore at least, it seems to be working. Rarely does one category stand out in a singular manner, but remarkably, every single luxury brand in this year’s Singapore Top 100 moved up the rankings from 2018.

Brand 2019 ranking 2018 ranking Change
Chanel 29 35 +6
Gucci 51 82 +31
Louis Vuitton 63 69 +6
Cartier 82 200 +118
Tiffany & Co 95 135 +40
Rolex 98 114 +16

Andy Feng, senior strategy manager at Essence, puts this down to brands finally seeing the fruits of earlier investment.

“Luxury brands, which have a reputation for being cautious in reacting to market changes, are only beginning to reap the rewards of investing in digital from a couple of years back,” he explains. “Yet, these brands have not neglected the intangible sensorial experience of retail shopping.” Obviously some brands saw greater overall success than others, but it seems the luxury sector is having a good time in Singapore right now.

Experience is something luxury brands have always been known for, but most brands have also realised that their previous strategy of being aspirational in an aloof manner is no longer working, and that accessibility to luxury is key, particularly among Singaporean consumers.

Sorcha John, Iris Singapore managing director, worked with Tiffany & Co—up 40 places this year—on its highly experiential ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ campaign, which saw the brand take over a renowned café in a hipster Singapore neighbourhood, repainting the exterior and replacing its furniture and crockery with its own iconic blue gear. With just the right touch of luxury, nostalgia and accessibility, young Singaporeans went wild on social media.

(Source: Tiffany & Co)

“Such premium luxury-made-accessible experiences give the more visually inclined millennials who live #ForTheGram a chance to photograph and share their experiences to build brand affinity,” John says.

Feng adds that the earned media, especially through Instagram, of such campaigns is huge, and that bringing luxury brands to the people, like Tiffany did, is the key. “While digital campaigns can build affinity between consumers and brand, nothing beats the feeling of touching and seeing a product before purchasing it. These tactics resonate well with Singaporeans because they are constantly connected and love retail therapy.”

Feng points to another example, Cartier, which saw the biggest leap in this year’s list of 118 places. Timing its plans with Christmas, the brand launched a series of digital campaigns during the festive season, and also re-opened its store in Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district, making it the largest in the region.

“This played really well to Cartier’s benefit, with Singapore being a hotbed for shopping and it being the season of giving where shopping is at an all-time high,” he says.

One of the best performing luxury brands across APAC markets, and globally, has been Gucci, whose full embrace of millennial-facing accessible luxury has seen it skyrocket in terms of brand affinity among younger shoppers. This is no different in Singapore, where the brand cunningly combined two local loves, shopping and food, to bring its Gucci Osteria restaurant, helmed by three-Michelin star chef Massimo Bottura, to the Lion City for one month in May.

Once again, allowing aspirational consumers to touch and literally eat the brand, but this time combined with the scarcity of a time-limited experience, was a big winner with Singaporeans. “It is apparent that the luxury brands are luring millennials by creating a premium retail experience that makes the brands more accessible,” says John.

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