The 3 Drivers Of Luxury In Singapore

THE PURSUIT of luxury will continue unabated in Singapore, regardless of global changes and the needs and wants of the different generations.

That’s the firm belief of the panelists at Luxury Insights Breakfast Roundtable organised by BMW Asia. The event is part of a series of exclusive programmes being held at the BMW Pavilion at Suntec Plaza for two weeks.

BMW Luxury, DBS, ION
Brenda Pek of BMW led the discussion with speakers Chris Chong of ION Orchard (3rd from right) and Anthony Seow of DBS (extreme right).

Based on data collected, Anthony Seow, Managing Director, Cards and Unsecured Loans at DBS shared the top three things the wealthy in Singapore like to do.

1. Dining

It cannot come as a surprise that in a foodie haven like Singapore, dining continues to be an all-consuming passion. With such a wide range of dining options — hawker centres to fine-dining establishments — the options are plentiful.

fine dining
Fine dining experiences will always enjoy a top spot in Singapore’s foodie culture. Shutterstock

With many restaurants opening and closing — more than 2,000 food and beverage firms shuttered annually between 2010 and 2015 — those that are left standing have a certain X factor to keep them in business. It could be a different menu, flavours that are unexpected and possibly patrons who are faithful.

Location, while important, is often not a deterrent to the determined palates of the insatiable foragers of fine fare. A nice set of wheels are all that’s needed.

2. Cars

The purchase of fine cars is the second most appreciated activity of the wealthy.

luxury cars BMW
Cars are still popular among the wealthy despite their high prices in Singapore.

This must come as good news for BMW, who has been aggressively pushing new models into Singapore’s complex and expensive market. It launched the 6 Series Gran Tourismo which made its Asian debut on Friday at the travelling Pavilion.

With the Singapore government expected to pocket close to $70 billion in car taxes and certificates of entitlement in FY2017 (see article Entitlement And Your Motoring Money) the cost of cars is expected to remain prohibitive.

But with one in 30 Singaporeans deemed affluent (with $200,000 in assets) and more than 150,000 millionaires on the island, this would be part of a lifestyle purchase.

Demand for cars has defied logic given the high prices, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down even with the next generation, reckons Chris Chong, CEO, ION Orchard.

“The Millennials still appreciate lineage, and if brands can connect with them, they should earn their respect. It’s a relationship about winning the heart, then the wallet,” he explained.

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Taking Off In SIA’s New Gear

The BMW Pavilion is an example of the German brand reaching out to customers who might otherwise not interact with it, explained Brenda Pek,  Director of Marketing, BMW Asia.

By having this Pavilion, which is making the rounds of some key cities, it offers a facet of the brand’s values in an unexpected environment.

3. Travel

The third on the list, according to the data from DBS, is travel. But here it is more about bespoke travel experiences, the sort that are not just about money.

luxury travel
Travel is one of the three key things valued by the wealthy in Singapore. Shutterstock

This desire to be pleasantly surprised is an opportunity that Seow says is evident in the travel segment.

“They want bespoke travel, and they want to leverage the digital space. Technology gives the customer what they want,” he added.

By ensuring a smooth, friction-free experience, customers get what they want without any fuss, and DBS is happy to keep them engaged with the brand.

Different Profiles

Chong observes that the older Baby Boomer generation is more risk averse with investments, whereas the Millennials are happier to invest. “They have a ‘buy first, think later’ attitude. The Internet has also helped. Before it took a longer time to market something. Now, it’s quicker.”

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The affluent Millennials have other desires that legacy brands will be able to provide services for, adds Chong. Customisation, limited-edition products, and products with provenance will resonate with them.

He does caution luxury brands to be mindful of their heritage, and not cave in to the demands of the growing affluent class.

“Every decade reached out to a community. In the 1980s it was the Japanese. In the 1990s it was the Russians. And now it’s the Chinese. Come Chinese New Year, there may be a lot of dogs showing up in the collections of luxury brands.

“But luxury brands should not pander to a community at the expense of its identity.”

Regardless the generation, strong brand values mixed with relevance will still hold the attention and loosen the purse strings of the well-heeled.

The BMW Pavilion is open to the public on Sunday 12 and 19 November from 10am to 10pm. Visit for more details.

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