Singapore’s eCommerce industry is thriving, with its consumers forecasted to spend an average of US$ 675.71 per user in 2020.1 This is the largest average revenue generated per user in Southeast Asia, making it a lucrative market for new products to enter. The city-state’s consumers are constantly on the lookout for novel products and solutions that can cater to their busy, urban lifestyle.
According to Euromonitor, Singapore’s skincare market is expected to increase at a 5% compound annual growth rate to reach SGD872 million in 2023 from its SGD687 million value in 2018.2 To do well in a growing market like this, it helps to know what kind of products are popular in Singapore and what kind of consumers are buying them.
Singapore contains a multitude of races and cultures. That means that Singapore’s pool of consumers are diverse in terms of skincare needs too. Singapore’s Department of Statistics shows that, as of June 2019, 74.4% of Singapore’s residents are Chinese, while 13% of them are Malays and 9% are Indians. The remaining 3.2% are from other ethnic groups.3
Singaporeans have a variety of skin types, with Daily Vanity citing that 64.8% of their 2019 survey participants have a combination skin type, followed by oily skin at 11.4%, sensitive skin at 11%, and dry skin at 8.5%.4
Singapore’s weather also has a hand in influencing what kind of skin products they would buy. The city-state has hot and humid weather all year round, and the annual Southeast Asian haze hits between July and October. This means that on top of catering to the urban lifestyle, Singapore’s consumers would also look for solutions that address skin-related issues that arise from air pollution.
With this background information in mind, let’s now dive into some key insights on Singapore’s skincare market.
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According to Daily Vanity, Korean beauty brands Innisfree and Laneige took the two top spots in their Most Trusted Brand survey in 2019. This is partially due to the popularity of the Korean Wave and Singapore’s consumers who want to emulate these idols.5
There is also a belief that Asian brands tend to understand Asian skincare better, as Daily Vanity’s COO and Editorial director, Kristen Juilet Soh, said “consumers believe Asian products can address Asian-specific concerns.” Additionally, she added that “Korean skincare is very innovative… people are always looking for new solutions,” when mentioning that Korean skincare popularised the use of cica and creating the sleeping mask product category.6
It is this trend that allowed brands like Innisfree to aggressively expand into Singapore. They set up physical shops in 2013 while also selling their products on their website and other eCommerce platforms like YesStyle and Althea. Smaller brands can capitalise on the existence of these eCommerce platforms to test the market using cross-border shipping without having to spend their capital to launch aggressively.
This corroborates with Euromonitor’s findings, which mentions that Singaporeans are open to novel ways of addressing skin problems.7 Their high usage of social media means that new, niche, and international brands can use this channel to expose potential customers to their products and tap onto their novelty-seeking behaviour, making Singapore a good test bed for foreign brands.
This is good news for new brands who are looking to enter the market and have yet to do so, but this needs to be coupled with a sustained marketing strategy in order to keep your customers. Brand switching is becoming the new norm for Singaporeans, with skincare products having 47% of its consumers switching brands according to Nielsen’s 2019 report.8
While brand switching for health and beauty products aren’t as high as the food categories, this means that eCommerce merchants looking to win over consumers should deliver a product that provides value for money, along with strong promotional tactics.
With many Singaporeans living busy lives, products that are quick and easy to use tend to be received highly by Singapore’s consumers. Essence mists that act as more advanced toners are doing well among Singaporean consumers looking for efficacy. Because these essences are also available in a mist format, these enable on-the-go and instantaneous use.9
This trend can also be observed in sun care products, where Euromonitor also claims that innovative products that add to the convenience of using sun care products like mist sprays and roll-ons are increasingly popular with Singaporean shoppers.10 These top brands include Sunplay, which carries mist spray and essence sun creams, and Nivea, which has a line of roll-on sun cream and sun spray products. Products that also advertise its usage for protection against UV rays and air pollution also tend to do well because of increased media coverage on skin damage due to the haze.
To top it off, skin care products that combine multiple needs into one will also aid in the busy Singaporean’s lifestyle. These include the likes of BB creams from Shiseido and Sunplay, which addresses sun related concerns along with sebum on the skin caused by Singapore’s hot and humid climate year round.11
Looking for more insights like these? Find out more about Singapore’s eCommerce landscape in our Singapore eCommerce guide!
Beauty eCommerce platforms that are popular in Singapore include the likes of Sephora. According to Similarweb, Sephora.sg enjoys 410 thousand views per month as of January 2020, with 76% of these views from Singapore.12
In its 2018 annual report, Sephora’s parent company, LVMH, mentioned that it will focus on designing the best omnichannel shopping experience,13 which goes in line with the findings that more local brands from Singapore are opting to provide omnichannel shopping.
Other notable beauty eCommerce sites include Althea, which we mentioned in our first point. Althea curates and resells Korean beauty products to some Southeast Asian countries including Singapore.14 This website enjoys 197 thousand views in January 2020, and Singapore is among the top 5 countries that visit this site.15
Niche Korean brands that are selected and sold online by Althea can be shipped directly from South Korea to their destination countries in Southeast Asia, which means that there’s no need to set up a distribution centre to reach potential customers in SEA.
Cross border shipping like this is good to test the market in the short run. Once you’re confident enough that your products are selling well in Singapore, you could switch to a regional distribution centre to optimise your supply chain to Singapore and even the rest of Southeast Asia.
However, beauty-only platforms are not the only dominant players when it comes to putting your products in front of many potential buyers. Zalora and YesStyle, which we mentioned in point 1, are known firsthand as fashion destinations. But they also contain sections that showcase beauty and personal care products. Zalora is also one of Singapore’s overall top 5 eCommerce platforms according to iPrice’s statistics for Q3 2019.16
On top of that, the biggest platforms for all eCommerce shopping in Singapore, namely Lazada, Shoppee, and Qoo10, also have their own categories for skincare products. For eCommerce merchants looking to reach as many potential customers as possible, fashion and general eCommerce sites should not be discounted when looking for places to list your products.
While you’re looking for places to list your products, you should also keep in mind the entire eCommerce experience and ensure that your products always arrive at your customers’ doorsteps consistently and reliably with a good shipping partner.
As mentioned in point 1, the exposure to international brands on social media is a boon for new or international brands to enter Singapore’s skin care market. But in order to stay relevant, you’ll need a solid social media marketing strategy to win over the Singaporean consumer.
Singaporean consumers tend to rely on reviews on social media to make purchasing decisions, and according to PwC’s survey in 2016, that’s 57% of them.17 Additionally, they are also the most vocal eCommerce consumers when an order goes right or wrong. Thus, it is important to ensure that your product delivers on its promises and ensure that the eCommerce shipping goes smoothly.
With this in mind, it makes sense to encourage your customers to leave a review in order to win the trust of other potential customers for your product.
While social media marketing usually entails the engagement of an influencer to promote a product, influencer marketing does not have a wide reach compared to online reviews. According to YouGov and PRCA Southeast Asia’s study in 2018, influencer marketing has only ever influenced user purchases at 39% in general, whereas online reviews are nearly double at 70%.18
However, when it comes to people who already follow health and beauty influencers, influencer marketing can be highly effective. 76% of respondents who follow influencers say that influencer endorsement is important for health and beauty products. Nevertheless, it’s also important for brands that engage influencers to keep track of their influencer’s actions and whether they are viewed as controversial, as 76% of Singaporeans who follow influencers agreed that an influencer’s reputation can affect their intention in purchasing a product. 19
Entering Singapore’s emerging skincare market has never been easier with eCommerce’s prominence in the country. With their novelty-seeking behaviour and high social media usage amongst Internet goers at 79%,20 the time is ripe for you to test the market with your new products sold online.
To ensure the best eCommerce experience for the Singaporean consumer, you’ll need a reliable shipping partner who can ship internationally and ensure that your products can reach your consumers in a timely manner. In order to do so, eCommerce platforms and logistics service providers who are familiar with Singapore’s rules and regulations can simplify the international shipping experience for all types of merchants.
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