Singaporeans are one of the most active populations on social media, using on average four platforms daily. Mobile penetration rate is at 148%, whilst the country is now the world's fastest broadband nation, in addition to having top 4G speeds.
Our ever-increasing connectivity is making life easier – whether it's to keep in touch with friends and family, shop for our groceries on the move, or get in touch with businesses and brands.
These developments mean that more data is being generated than ever before. We can better understand the habits and behaviours of Singaporeans, along with their likes and dislikes, through online conversations. We can track how they interact with brands and respond to the different touchpoints, thanks to big data.
Location-based technology can provide fascinating insight into the situational equity of brands. Are people shopping on mobile whilst on the MRT? At what time are they most likely to buy a coffee using mobile payment?
However, the sheer volume of data is presenting as much of a challenge as it is an opportunity. Marketing Monitor, a recent study from TNS, identified that businesses in Singapore are struggling to extract the valuable insights from this plethora of data sources and create truly valuable insights.
The increasing availability of data ought to enable better decision-making, but many are frustrated by the difficulties of integrating different types of data. As a result, the data flood threatens to seriously impair their ability to think strategically.
But this shouldn't be the case. Businesses need to prioritise how they turn this data into a coherent and useful tool, and how this information is then disseminated and used effectively – not just by the marketing function, but by the wider business too.
Companies need to develop models that can translate the noisy customer activity on social media into clear signals about what actions they can take to maintain brand loyalty and drive future growth.
If they don't have the skills to do this in-house – and we are seeing that many in Singapore don't – then they need to identify the right type of partner to help them to look through the flood of data and find the insights that will benefit their business.
Not only can digital data deliver real-time insight into consumers, it also has the potential to allow businesses to gaze into the future. Tracking social and search data can be used to form the basis of a predictive insight to deliver an accurate forecast of brand equity months ahead of survey data or sales figures.
This gives businesses the power to anticipate changes to brand equity in time to actually do something about it.
The new sources of data available to businesses in Singapore enable a deeper understanding of the consumer and better decision-making.
For example, being able to predict brand equity allows high-value product industries such as automotive to make intelligent decisions based on the reception of a new model. The brand can identify whether the campaign is chiming with Singaporeans months before traditional sales results, and understand how it can be improved and refined.
There is also the opportunity to use location-based mobile data to understand when and how people are most likely to behave in certain ways. This can answer some interesting questions, for example, should a coffee chain be targeting consumers with mobile marketing first thing in the morning, or mid-afternoon when they're in need of a pick-me-up?
In a food-centric country like Singapore, FMCG brands can use situation equity to understand where their products are being used and how, and uncover additional occasions in the daily routine where someone might be more inclined to use the brand.
In a small but highly competitive market like Singapore, identifying opportunities to break away from the pack is crucial to long-term success and growth. However there is no quick or simple solution. Executive buy-in is needed to ensure that the insight is not only comprehensive, but actionable too.
Businesses need to accept that in such a fast-paced environment, a rear-view mirror approach to brand equity simply won't work. Having a telescopic view into the future is an invaluable competitive advantage, and one that businesses can't afford to overlook.
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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Jon has over 15 years global research experience and has been with TNS for more than 10 years, based in London, Melbourne, and Singapore. As Regional Managing Director, TNS Singapore and Malaysia, he works with teams to enhance their client relationships through business issue understanding, whilst leading the strategic direction for these key TNS APAC businesses.