There’s no doubt that New Zealand companies create great food and beverage products. We’ve got access to excellent raw materials, fresh water and clean air. We have sophisticated technology and we’re innovative.

For the gourmets among us, perusing Farmers' Markets and gourmet supermarkets like Nosh rates highly on the pleasure list. We make an easy connection between the quality of the boutique products on offer and the spectacularly high prices these delicious treats command.

In many ways, our purchase of daily staples like toothpaste and washing powder follow a similar pattern. We may think of ourselves as rational grocery shoppers – purchasing products based on their quality and price – but the truth is that our emotions are at play even with such mundane decisions as which brand of flour we pick off the shelf.

Even when we are told that the product inside is exactly the same! Our connection to particular brands is influenced by years of accumulated experience and manipulative marketing.

The same process occurs the world over and Singapore is no exception. The big difference is that many of the New Zealand brands we know and love simply do not resonate with Singaporeans.

Singaporeans are city-slickers and they’re notorious workaholics. According to research complied by Groningen Growth and Development Centre and data published by the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), Singaporeans work some of the longest hours per week of any developed country. On average, some 2,287 hours a year are spent grinding away at the office.

These urban athletes don’t have time to browse the supermarket aisles, examining the merits of one product versus another. They’re in and out as fast as humanly possible with enough food for one meal in their basket. To capture the attention of the typical Singaporean, Head Consultant at Platform Public Relations, Adlena Wong, recommends the following three step strategy:

1. Think ‘long-term engaging’, not ‘short-term hard-selling’

Start with the story behind the brand. Take advantage of strategically placed bus stop ads, in-store communication, editorials in commuter papers and ubiquitous social networks to connect with locals. When they are warmed up to what you stand for the next phase of your marketing strategy can focus on geo-targeted sampling and keeping the ‘talk factor’ alive in the media through consistent engagement with journalists and tastemakers.

2. Create advocacy for your brand

Singaporeans are increasingly influenced by peer-endorsed reviews so your PR blitz will be nicely complemented by engaging a Brand Ambassador. A case in point: Soyato. This local soy ice-cream brand does not look local at all. This cleverly marked brand has positioned itself as a Japanese delicacy (Singaporeans habitually think that made in Japan equals quality). They then selected the amiable and good- looking OonShuAn (who makes regular appearances as a celebrity reviewer on Clicknetwork TV and played a lead role in a Jetstar TVC), as their Brand Ambassador. Now Singapore’s hooked! The company has populated local media and has exporters and franchisors knocking on the founder’s doors mere months after Soyato’s launch. 

3. Win over the ‘Heartlanders’

Singapore has an ageing population and a large proportion of the consumers who wander supermarket aisles tend to be mature shoppers. Charming these Heartlanders requires a more personalised approach. For example, in-store product demos and the use of specific media touchpoints like the Mandarin newspapers and television channels.

Ultimately, finding a way to connect with Singaporean consumers in the same way that you connect with your local customer base is vital. Not only will it support your sales in Singapore, but the strength of your brand in the island nation will have a positive ripple effect across the whole region.