Singapore Business Expansion to the Asia-Pacific Region
Singapore continues to stand firm and is well-regarded as a triple-A rated economy as well as a stable location for business expansion and investments. With its unique position in the global economy, Singapore plays a pivotal role as the business epicenter of Asia.
The Asia-Pacific region spans East, Southeast, and South Asia as well as Oceania, includes 42 countries and many other territories, and is home to over four billion people. As such, this region is full of expansion opportunities for foreign businesses. With so many countries and people in the region, the Asia-Pacific market is arguably the most prized in the world.
According to its regional economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund called the Asia-Pacific region “the most dynamic of the global economy.” This should not come as a surprise, as the region is home to global economic powerhouses such as China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and South Korea, as well as business hubs like Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, Sydney, and Hong Kong, among others. Furthermore, because of its distance from the West, large swathes of the market have yet to be fully catered to by foreign companies.
One important factor is demographics. The business must consider the socioeconomic make-up of the countries to which it intends to expand. It is necessary for a business to not only understand the market, but the society in which it operates as well.
A good example of a company that sought to understand the people of the Asia-Pacific region when it expanded there is Viacom. Viacom International Media Networks Asia, then known as MTV Networks Asia Pacific, launched in Singapore in 1994. Viacom’s Asia-Pacific operations include the regional arms of MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. Ever since its launch in the region, Viacom made it a point to air localized content for its audiences across Asia and Oceania in an attempt to connect with the people of the region. This was a revolutionary move at the time, and it led to the tremendous growth of Viacom’s brand in the Asia-Pacific region. This growth also helped MTV become the world’s largest television network. Today, Viacom reaches over 300 million households across the Asia-Pacific region. It airs localized programming across 10 MTV channels, eight Nickelodeon channels, four VH1 channels, and many other branded programming blocks. Thus, by having a good grasp of the “people factor”, Viacom was able to achieve a great deal of success in the region.
Many foreign companies that expand to the Asia-Pacific region also often find it difficult to understand regional cultures, mentalities, and business practices. Business leaders must seek to understand the mindset of the average Asia-Pacific consumer. Paul Hype Page can guide you to overcome the problems in Asia-Pacific for business expansion. By doing so, the company’s potential for corporate growth in the region will increase.
One major company that understood how its Asian customers thought and adapted accordingly is Starbucks. Ever since entering Japan in 1996, Starbucks has been able to succeed there by placing extra emphasis on customer service. This is because Japanese culture prizes personal respect and traditional etiquette. Unlike other outlets around the world, Starbucks outlets in Japan do not write customers’ names on the cups because Japanese culture also values the right to privacy. The result: Japan has now become Starbucks’ fourth-largest global market, with over 1,000 outlets across the nation.
Businesses also must not view the Asia-Pacific region as a monolith. Each country in the Asia-Pacific region is unique and has its own particular market and business challenges. The immense size and diversity of the region requires marketing approaches to be tailored to suit each country. Hence, businesses must be adaptable, practical, and flexible when dealing with how they approach each Asia-Pacific market. It is important for a business to understand the subtle differences between each Asia-Pacific country and how these differences affect each market and the policies there. Once the business gains a proper grasp over these differences, it will be more able to modify its approach in the market based on the information it has received.
Music streaming platform Spotify has been extremely successful by using different strategies to suit each Asia-Pacific country. One way that Spotify approaches each Asian country differently can be seen in the cost of Spotify Premium in each country. Spotify Premium costs more money in the more prosperous economies of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan than it does in the Philippines and Indonesia, where many people are not as well-off as in the three other countries just mentioned. Spotify also used current events in the region to draw attention to its brand. In 2015, Singapore and Malaysia were affected by a devastating bout of haze. To capitalise on this unfortunate turn of events, Spotify released a haze-themed playlist titled “Hazed & Confused”, impressing many in the two countries. Spotify also does its part to spotlight local artists in each country. For example, in the Philippines, Spotify has held concerts featuring local artists by teaming up with local partners to help give a boost to the Philippines’ mainstream music scene. Today, Spotify is available in 11 Asia-Pacific countries and has become a leading music streaming platform in the region.
Finally, businesses should use advances in technology and innovation to assist their expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. While this is true anywhere, it is especially important for Asia-Pacific expansion because many areas in the region are world leaders in technological innovation and advancement. Countries such as Japan, China, India, Australia, South Korea, and Singapore are frequently cited as being among the world’s most technologically advanced. Although many businesses see this high level of technology and infrastructure as a barrier to expansion or even entry, the reality is that this same technological advancement represents a great opportunity to be exploited by businesses.
An example of this can be seen across the retail industry in the Asia-Pacific region. Retailers across the region have increased their use of technology to analyze and monitor trends in consumer behavior. By collecting information about consumer demographics, products purchased, and even time spent in stores, technology can make retail companies in the region much more efficient. This data can then be used in conjunction with social media campaigns and online sales to further increase the marketability of a particular company.
Expanding a business to a new region is always a challenge, especially one as large and diverse as the Asia-Pacific region. However, with the use of appropriate strategies, well-planned marketing, proper understanding of the Asia-Pacific consumer base, and adaptation to the local market, expansion to the Asia-Pacific region may just be the best decision a business could ever make.