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Knowing Singapore's Food and Dietary Supplement Culture is the Key to Success
How to Approach Market Entry in One of Asia's Most Innovative Countries
A perspective from Tan Seow Hwei, Business Development Manager at Watsons Singapore

2019-09-09 15:09 Monday


The island city-state of Singapore is widely regarded as a global hub for education, entertainment, finance and healthcare. As one of the region's four so-called Asian Tigers it is a highly developed and culturally rich nation, home to more than five million people.

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With such a demanding and well-informed public, it is no surprise, then, that the city is a greatly worthwhile source of information on consumer trends in nutrition and fitness. Shoppers in Singapore are increasingly savvy when it comes to getting the very most from the exceptionally wide choice of products and services available to them.

At the cusp of this competitive and forward-looking environment, is Watsons Singapore – the leading health, personal care and beauty retailer in the city. It conducts business with over 100 stores locally, and is tied to over 15,200 outlets globally as part of the A.S. Watson Group, the world's largest international health and beauty retailer.

Shoppers in Singapore are increasingly savvy when it comes to getting the very most from the exceptionally wide choice of products and services available to them. At the cusp of this competitive and forward-looking environment, is Watsons Singapore…

That is why Duxes was so pleased to welcome Watsons Singapore's Business Development Manager, Tan Seow Hwei, to speak at the 4th Nutraceutical and Functional Food Asia Pacific Summit 2019 (NFAP) in Singapore from June 25-26, 2019.

During her talk titled "Retailer's Perspective: Entry to Singapore Market" Tan provided numerous invaluable insights for those looking to bring their products to market. In particular, she discussed how Nutraceuticals are gaining importance; how the average age is rising in Singapore; and, how knowing your target consumers and competitors are crucial for the development of any successful market entry sales strategy.

Following her well-received and much-discussed speech at the Summit, we caught up with the nutraceutical and beauty industry expert to learn more about her professional experience of the local market in Singapore. We asked her about what makes Singapore unique and discussed some of the challenges and opportunities that the city offers to those looking to gain a foothold in this dynamic and influential Asian capital.

As a pharmacist by training, what made you choose a career in the beauty and nutraceutical industry?

I've always been passionate about health and beauty, and when I came across the idea to "Shine your beauty from within" a few years ago, I simply loved it. Beauty is not only about fashion and make-up; it's also about physical and mental health. When we feel great by staying physically and mentally healthy, we will look good and beautiful too.

Since when I was young, my dad has been telling me "We need to love what we do and do what we love" It has always been my dream to turn my passion and interest into my full-time job. Thus, I chose to pursue a career in the beauty and nutraceutical industry after graduation.

What are Singaporeans' biggest concerns are these days in terms of healthy eating and lifestyle? How have these trends developed over time?

[Their main concerns are their] busy and stressful lifestyle! Based on the latest available global statistics, Singapore residents worked the second-longest week in developed cities around the world. In 2015, they clocked in 45.6 hours on average, trailing only behind Hong Kong at 50.1 hours[1]. Leading a busy lifestyle means that Singaporeans tend to opt for convenience when it comes to everything. For example, many choose to eat out or opt for easy-to-prepare processed foods, which are generally not so healthy. In addition, people here are likely to grab desserts or snack whenever they feel stressed.

Leading a busy lifestyle means that Singaporeans tend to opt for convenience when it comes to everything. For example, many choose to eat out or opt for easy-to-prepare processed foods, which are generally not so healthy. In addition, people here are likely to grab desserts or snack whenever they feel stressed.

However, the 2018 National Nutrition Survey showed that Singaporeans' diet quality has improved and the trend for increasing average calorie intake over the years has shown signs of slowing. In addition, based on a population survey conducted by Health Promotion Board, the proportion of Singapore residents aged 18 to 74 years of age who engaged in at least 150 minutes of physical activity – for example, exercise or walking - every week has increased from 50.7% in 2013 to 57.4% in 2016.

Do think young Singaporeans differ much from their parents when it comes to diet and wellness?

Besides age, when it comes to diet and wellness, the main differences could be due to demographic factors like financial status and educational qualification. Generally, those with a younger age, higher education and higher income have greater access to health and wellness-promoting resources. Also, they may possess greater knowledge and skills that enable them to exhibit positive behavior related to diet, exercise and wellness.

Are there any particular factors or challenges that you think companies should consider if they want to bring new brands to the Singapore market?

Before entering the Singapore market, companies should be specific about what they want to achieve here. It can be from the level of sales, to the demographic profile, to the expected number of people to reach. Besides getting to know the Singapore market and understand the range of competitors and consumers here, it is extremely important to learn about the regulations and culture.

Before entering the Singapore market, companies should be specific about what they want to achieve … Besides getting to know the Singapore market and understand the range of  competitors and consumers here, it is extremely important to learn about the regulations and culture.

Another common challenge that should be taken into consideration is the high level of cost, especially in terms of labor and business operating costs. It's advisable to detail the budget and plan the financials. For example, companies can find out if they need to get any support for their export venture or get insurance that protects them against any losses.

How do the regulations in Singapore affect what companies can put on their labels, regarding health claims and benefits?

This depends on the ingredients and strengths, since these factors will determine the product classification in Singapore. Companies will need to follow the labeling requirements of the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) or Health Science Authority (HSA). In general, companies need to ensure their product claims are accurate and truthful. For nutraceutical products, any claims about disease prevention or treatment are not allowed.

Furthermore, companies are required to abide by the regulations or guidelines when it comes to advertising and sales promotions. The rule of thumb is that a product advertised or promoted for sale must not adversely affect public health, mislead consumers or induce unnecessary consumption.

Companies will need to follow the labeling requirements of the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) or Health Science Authority (HSA). In general, companies need to ensure their product claims   are accurate and truthful.

Find out more about Duxes Functional Food Series and our upcoming events

The retail market in Singapore was just one of many topics explored at NFAP 2019. Each year Duxes invites a wide selection of industry experts to speak on the issues that matter most to professionals in the nutraceutical and functional food industry.

Next year's event will be 5th Nutraceutical and Functional Food Asia Pacific Summit 2020, which will take place in Singapore again. The Summit is a great way to build connections for your company, and make sure you stay on top of all the latest trends and regulatory changes that matter.

For further information on Duxes Functional Food Series and for more details of all our forthcoming events, don't forget to visit the website here: http://www.duxes-foodbeverage.com/

Disclaimer: Information provided by this interview is solely for informational purpose only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice by regulatory or authorities. Under no circumstances will Watson's Personal Care Stores Pte Ltd be liable to any person or company for damages of any nature arising in any way from the use of such information.



[1] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/breaking-singapore-workaholic-culture-long-working-hours-always--11058104


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