With the government gradually easing border restrictions under COVID-19, businesses have been looking at new ways to capture opportunities in the local market over the course of the pandemic in order to generate positive momentum.
Chinese expats in Singapore form a significant demographic that brands have been eyeing to fuel sales growth in the year of pandemic recovery.
To provide perspective on this growing expatriate community that is shaping the country’s consumer market, AI marketing platform EternityX has announced a survey that looks at the spending and investment habits of Chinese expats in Singapore to better understand their potential to contribute to the country’s economy.
Purchasing power potential
The Singapore economy achieved 14.7% year-on-year growth in the second quarter this year while the country was undergoing Phase 1 of reopening. “This is encouraging, despite the borders remaining closed,” said Richard Andrew, Southeast Asia and Australia Managing Director of EternityX.
“During the lockdown, we’ve seen brands shifting their focus to new consumer demographics within the territory, and Chinese expats are believed to be an important segment to aid consumption growth, now and into the future.”
The Chinese expat community in Singapore has contributed to the country’s economy over the years. According to EternityX data, 71% of the respondents hold Bachelor’s degrees or above. 32% of the surveyed are considered ‘affluent’ as they make over SGD 160,000 annual household income – at least 45% higher than the median Singapore household income.
The survey also found that most Chinese expats have been easing back into their pre-pandemic life; 63% of respondents said that they have been spending more this year than they had in 2020.
Shopping and investing habits of affluent Chinese expats
52% of the affluent respondents noted that they have spent an average of more than SGD 1,000 per month on luxury or beauty goods, 19% of which even spent an average of more than SGD 5,000 – a sum typically equivalent to buying a small shoulder bag from a luxury fashion house or a diamond ring from a high-end jeweller.
Regardless of the complicated cross-border logistics, more affluent Chinese expats prefer shopping on Chinese online marketplaces (including JD.com, Tmall, Taobao, and Pinduoduo) rather than local and regional ones (including Shopee and Lazada).
Over three-quarters of the affluent agreed that digital resources, including search engines (80%) and social media (73%), play important roles when they make investment decisions.
33% of the affluent Chinese expats plan on saving and investing 16% to 30% of their annual income, with stocks and bonds, insurance, and real estates being the top 3 investment options, indicating great untapped opportunities for financial institutions.
While over 71% of the respondents have lived in Singapore for over 10 years, Chinese expats still heavily utilise Chinese media platforms, with iQiyi, Douyin and Sina being the most influential platforms when it comes to their spending decisions; while WeChat, Toutiao and Sina News are their primary Chinese media channels for breaking financial news.
Interestingly, although many of the respondents speak English at home, 77% still tend to purchase brands which advertise in Chinese on a Chinese media channel.
More EternityX data reveals that campaigns running on Chinese digital platforms in simplified Chinese drive higher engagement and generate more leads with Chinese expats living overseas.
This shows the power of communicating in a customer’s native language and the diversity of the platforms that can provide enhanced interaction with Chinese expats.
On the note of Chinese expats’ spending habits, Richard Andrew commented, “Data has told us that it can take up to 30 steps for a customer to make their purchase decision; the more expensive the products, the more steps the customers need.
“This survey reveals the unique ways in which Chinese expats spend their disposable income and consume media, which sheds light on how brands and businesses should tailor a personalised approach that best connects with their target customers.
“Demographics matter and therefore brands should embrace technology and innovative digital solutions that precisely target one of Singapore’s wealthiest segments [Chinese expats] in order to maximise the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.”
EternityX shared key tips for brands to unlock business potential within the Chinese expat market:
- · Make sure you put yourselves in their shoes
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with Chinese Expats, especially considering their visual mindset.
Focus your campaign on storytelling with high-quality and eye-catching visuals plus creative, attractive and useful content. Include a relevant call-to-action and landing page. Most importantly, all touchpoints in the campaign have to be in Simplified Chinese.
- · The more touchpoints, the merrier
Don’t limit your media plan to just the most popular apps. EternityX data shows that Chinese Expats in Singapore access well over 50 different types of apps and media on average, including video, social, news, lifestyle and gaming.
Marketers should include a variety of channels in your media plan, on top of the most high-profile Chinese publications and platforms.
- Utilise the latest target segmentation tools
Leveraging more layers of data, such as spending power and keywords, and the latest AI and ML technology can help brands precisely identify and reach the target audience.
- · Leverage opportunities for targeted and personalised offers on Chinese media platforms
Consumers today value personalisation, and brands who use data-driven campaigns to tailor content to consumers are seeing results. With careful execution, exclusive deals or campaigns for Chinese expats living in Hong Kong will attract this specific consumer group.
Targeted and personalised offerings on Chinese media platforms can further drive higher engagement rates with Chinese expats.