The array of Christmas lights along Orchard Road this year is incredibly beautiful and adds onto the festivity. Another iconic sight at Orchard is, of course, the amount of luxury brands lined up.
An immensely broad range of luxury brands are entering the Singapore market every month from other parts of Asia as well as the US and Europe. Filled with steady-seller brands as well as newly emerging, the luxury goods market has never been more competitive for brands, especially Singapore.
To mark the occasion, a study was recently conducted – the first of its kind – to understand what defines 'luxury' in Singapore and which brands are seen as the exceptional pinnacle of luxury revealing the top six names that are most perceived as prestigious to Singaporean consumers.
Starting off from the top, Porsche is the most luxuriously recognised brand in Singapore during the year of 2016, according to the new study by Kadence Singapore. With the country's national carrier, Singapore Airlines, seen as the sixth most luxurious brand.
In the inaugural Luxury Index, Kadence Singapore undertook a study of 1,000 Singaporean consumers to establish what defined luxury for them; and which brands were the most luxurious. The study also identified which luxury brands were unique to Singapore, by establishing what defined luxury to seven key luxury goods markets in comparison: London, Paris, Tokyo, Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and New York.
The study focussed on the 15 attributes that derive luxury; which are combined together into five key aspects of luxury – status, high quality, exclusivity, distinctiveness, and history. This allows for the diagnosis of what gives the most luxurious brands their strength and how other brands can build up their luxury credentials.
Cars are a byword for luxury in Singapore
Porsche was singled out as the most luxurious brand in Singapore, followed by Bugatti and Patek Philippe, Rolls Royce and Rolex rounding off the top five luxury brands. It is interesting to note that three car brands made it to the top five in Singapore, whereas in the other luxury markets the top five brands are dominated by jewelry and watch brands. The significant price difference between cars in Singapore and the other luxury markets can explain their appearance in the top five here.
The study also looked at what consumers considered as the most luxurious categories in order to see unique traits for Singapore. In both Singapore and the other luxury markets, jewelry was considered number one. Second in rank for Singaporeans, however, was cars, whereas cars came in third place behind watches in the other markets. Clearly, cars represent a more significant sign of luxury to those in Singapore than those outside.
But how did Porsche rank the top place out of all brands in the study? Porsche was seen to represent the best in terms of high quality and distinctiveness, sitting at the top of the luxury index for all brands in Singapore. These two factors being the most important for driving luxury in the cars category.
In particular, for Porsche it was seen to be more immediately recognisable as a symbol of luxury (66% versus Singapore average 44%), compared to its competitors, and to deliver beyond consumers' expectations (51% versus Singapore average 35%).
Bugatti, number two in the index, also scored well on the factors impacting luxury for cars, coming second in the study in Singapore for high quality and third for distinctiveness (behind Rolls Royce). Bugatti was seen as the most unique brand of cars in the study, and also the most likely to only use the highest quality materials and craftsmanship.
Watches give a timeless sense of status
Patek Philippe, the third most luxuriously perceived brand in Singapore, and the highest ranked watch brand, scored high in terms of status, coming in second among all brands in Singapore, only behind the national carrier, Singapore Airlines. The biggest strength for Patek Philippe was being a brand you 'would be proud to be seen to own', the highest across the watches category.
Rolls Royce, the third car brand to be in the top five, came in at number four in Singapore. Similar to Bugatti, Rolls Royce dominated the distinctiveness and high quality aspects of luxury – coming second (behind Porsche) and third (behind Porsche and Bugatti) respectively. Rolls Royce’s uniqueness as a brand in the eyes of consumers helped it reach the fourth spot; it was also seen to have a strong established brand story and traditions.
Rounding off the top five was Rolex, the second watch brand in the ranking behind Patek Philippe. Similar to Patek Philippe, it was Rolex's strength as a status brand that drives its sense of luxury, especially the extent to which owning a Rolex is seen to enhance your status. Rolex was also seen to have a proven track record of quality products, only behind Singapore Airlines in the whole study.
Singapore Airlines, the country's much loved national airline, came in at number six on the luxury index, 27 places higher than the next ranked airline, Emirates at number 33. The airline dominated the index on two key factors. It came in first place across the whole index for status and brand history, both of which are key drivers of luxury for airlines.
Singapore Airlines enjoyed top ranked position amongst all the airlines for being a brand you 'would be proud to be seen to use' (74% versus Singapore average 42%), for being a 'recognised leader in its industry' (78% versus Singapore average 41%), and 'providing a service beyond expectations' (68% versus Singapore average 35%).
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Patrick Young is Insight Director of Kadence Singapore. He has over nine years' of international research experience across Europe, Australia, and Singapore.