Niche marketing needed to restore 'wow' in Great Singapore Sale

In this age of affordable air travel, consumers are spoilt for choice on where to get the biggest bang for their buck ("Ideas to make it a really great Singapore sale"; Sept 22).

In this region, they have Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and even Shanghai for the picking, while farther afield in Europe, London and Paris are well-known shopping destinations.

These cities have each carved out a niche in differentiating themselves from other cities by weaving a local theme in their offerings, not just for shopping but in food, festivities and the change of seasons.

Shopping is incidental, as consumers seek to tantalise all their senses on their forays abroad. They need food, accommodation and unique experiences.

Thus, we should widen our appeal beyond attracting our local shoppers, and look to the larger overseas shopping crowds.

Merchandise, food and beverage, hospitality, theme parks, iconic scenic spots and even airlines should all form the composite appeal to make Singapore alluring.

Marketing on traditional and new media should be targeted towards the niche audience matrix.

Second- and third-tier cities in China are untapped sources of tourists looking for novelties abroad. Many enjoy direct flights to Singapore.

Singapore is tropical perennially. But merchandisers in other cities stock and sell for the four seasons, offering variations to meet changing habits and fashions.

Here, when the Great Singapore Sale ends in late August, merchandisers prepare in October for Christmas, and thereafter, for Chinese New Year, which is in January or February.

There is a yawning gap before the Great Singapore Sale returns.  Meanwhile, many of our own shoppers flock overseas for recreation and shopping. Perhaps, we should plug this gap of spending dollars flowing overseas.

Merchandisers should also change their mindsets and not treat the Great Singapore Sale as a time to get rid of their slow-moving goods.

Because of fine margins faced by all in the trade, it is not viable to compete solely on price.

Retailers should craft their appeal to meet what shoppers in their locale look for. Tampines Mall and Jurong Point cannot be exact replicas in terms of offerings. Tanglin Mall has succeeded in this respect.

Whether at the front line in the service industry or as private citizens travelling abroad, we could all help sell Singapore with our considerate and hospitable ways.

Lee Teck Chuan