This look at Singapore's Top 100 brands is part of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Asia's Top 1000 Brands report. For more on Singapore and the status of Singapore brands according to our research, see the Singapore market report.
The overall message remains the same in Singapore. International brands dominate the upper sections of the top 100 brands list in 2018, which has been the case for some time for a tiny island nation that has always relied heavily on imports and produces little of its own.
Seven of the top 10 brands remain the same, with Samsung and Apple taking the top two spots. Yet again bucking the trend is local supermarket and cooperative NTUC Fairprice, which remains third and continues to outstrip other local brands by a distance.
It’s a constant reminder to marketers that for all Singapore’s international outlook and perceived lack of heritage, there is such thing as loyalty to a brand that has made itself a part of the Singaporean consumer’s daily routine. That said, rival supermarket Cold Storage, which plunged to 114 last year, has seen a significant recovery to 38 in 2018, and observers say this reflects the changing priorities of Singaporean consumers, namely around health and wellness.
Cold Storage has markedly improved its range in the past year and focused on better quality, locally-sourced produce within APAC, as well investing heavily in organic products from the likes of New Zealand, renowned for its food quality. The changes are undoubtedly influenced by the growing Singaporean appetite for getting healthy. And with such an affluent consumer base, plenty of people are able and willing to pay more for nicer things.
There are several other indicators of this trend across the top 100. Coca-Cola, for example, has dropped 16 places to 34, a notable drop in the face of local rival 100 Plus, a sports isotonic drinks brand associated with exercise, that has crept into the top 10, up seven places from 2017. Cadbury has crashed a staggering 121 places out of the top 100 to 158, from 37 last year.
Pizza Hut has also dropped out of the top 100 (going from 73 last year to 137 in 2018), as has Heineken. In fact no beer brands are represented this year. The only fast food and drink brand that remains a constant for the Singaporean consumer is McDonald’s, which moves up one place to 30 this year. In addition, Fitbit is a new entrant to the top 100 at 99, another indicator of a trend toward fitness and health.
Other trends reflect regional attitudes, particularly in the consumer-technology sector. Google breaks into the top 10 this year, as it did in the cross-APAC ranking, high up at 4, while Grab continues to build its reputation in Singapore, rising 42 places to 21 this year. Netflix debuted at 56, while Amazon’s steady rise continued from 126 last year to 98 in 2018. Instagram also saw its stock rise significantly, up 70 places this year to 89.
“The integration of brand messages into a very distinctive Instagram environment will be important,” says Vivian Yeo, general manager at Performics Singapore, though she adds that for some consumers “mixed feelings can arise when ads or commercial messages appear in an aesthetics-focused and photo-journal styled environment”, which brands must remain mindful of.
The other big trend, reflected once again APAC-wide, is the huge growth of the fast fashion brands. Singapore illustrates this shift perfectly, with the highest riser Uniqlo jumping a whopping 103 places to 22 this year. While there’s clear air between Uniqlo and its rivals, all have seen a huge bump in 2018: H&M moved 130 places from 189 to 59 this year, Zara leapt 70 places to 62, and Hong Kong label G2000 rose 80 places to 94.
Another notable trend in Singapore has been the consolidation of the country’s longstanding popular local brands. Singapore Airlines (SIA), for example, continues to outshine all other airlines, rising two places to 19 this year. But more interestingly, Scoot, which SIA owns, entered the top 100 this year, moving 64 places to 52. This follows SIA’s decision to merge Scoot and Tigerair to provide one airline with better service.
Over in the banking sector, it is local banks POSB and DBS that have swept aside their rivals in 2018. POSB, founded in 1877, has stuck close to its narrative as being part of the fabric of Singaporean life, helping it reach 33 this year from 70 in 2017. DBS, which owns POSB, has stayed firm at 67, mostly because of its superior mobile offering and positioning, says Ranga Somanathan, CEO of OMG Singapore and Malaysia.
“What they are doing right is maintaining the integrity of online security and anonymity, so that users can feel safe using the platform regularly,” he explains. “Through this normalization of usage is how they grow and strengthen their base.”
In stark contrast to POSB and DBS’s relative success, its rivals have fallen out of the top 100. OCBC sunk 96 places to 139, while UOB dropped to 120.