Consumer Business Singapore


Consumer businesses seeking to expand their footprint in Asia can use Singapore as their gateway. Centrally located within Asia, Singapore has a conducive business environment underpinned by strong scientific and brand management capabilities. It is the ideal location from which consumer businesses can innovate and drive regional growth strategies. Consumer businesses can also tap on Singapore’s consumer insights capabilities to enhance their competitive edge by understanding the diverse Asian consumers markets. These consumer insights can be translated into brand and product innovations which cater to the unique needs and preferences of Asian consumers.



Asia’s stellar economic growth has created a burgeoning consumer market which will see 3.2 billion people in the middle-class segment by 2030, up from 525 million in 2009. Asia will account for more than 80 per cent of the growth in global middle-class spending, which amounts to US$55 trillion from US$21 trillion in 2009. These affluent Asian consumers increasingly demand more sophisticated products and services. Repackaging consumer products created for Western markets and selling them in Asia will no longer suffice. To effectively capture a slice of the Asian market, consumer businesses need to understand both the similarities and differences between Western and Asian consumers, as well as the diversity within Asia.


Consumer businesses can centralise key shared services functions such as finance, human resources and supply chain management in Singapore to enhance efficiency and productivity, and lower operating costs. They will be supported by a strong base of professional services with expertise in areas such as logistics, accounting, legal and human resource, as well as business consultancies.

Consumer businesses can also consolidate consumer research and brand charter management activities to be close to important, high-growth markets while also deploying a greater proportion of leadership in Asia to gain a deeper understanding of the region. In 2016, the World Bank ranked Singapore as the easiest place in Asia and second easiest in the world to do business. Indeed, Singapore possesses excellent global connectivity and a multi-ethnic culture, providing consumer businesses with the pan-Asian perspective required for business growth in Asia.

Consumer Goods Industry

Singapore’s base of integrative research capabilities, ranging from chemistry and food sciences to biomedical sciences and engineering, has grown over recent years. Coupled with a strong talent base built up from the local universities and polytechnics, consumer businesses can synergise the wide-ranging capabilities across 21 national research institutes and conduct in-depth scientific R&D for nutrition, as well as skin and hair care.

Building upon this is the push to establish Singapore as the region’s consumer insights hub. To this end, the S$77 million Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) was officially launched in March 2012 with the aim of being the thought-leader in understanding pan-Asian consumer needs and preferences. ACI conducts research and education programmes to help consumer businesses innovate brands and products that meet the aspirations of consumers across Asia.

The presence of key partners such as the strong base of the top five flavours and fragrances houses also play an integral role in formulating and perfecting the next consumer product for Asia. Recognising the need for Asia-specific innovations, multi-national corporations (MNCs) such as Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Mondelez, have set up R&D centres in Singapore.

The Global Innovation Index 2016 ranked Singapore as most innovative nation in Asia and sixth most innovative globally.



International surveys have consistently ranked Singapore’s IP regime as amongst the world’s best. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015/2016 ranked Singapore as the country offering the best intellectual property protection in Asia and the fourth best in the world. The US Global Intellectual Property Centre’s International IP Index 2016 also ranks Singapore’s IP regime as top in Asia. Singapore is also a signatory to major Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) conventions and treaties. 


Consumer goods companies can access, recruit, develop and deploy the requisite talent in Singapore to helm and run operations in Asia. The established ecosystem of local and international business schools provides a constant supply of managerial talent that companies can utilise. Additionally, companies can use Singapore as a home for talent development, developing in-house executive courses or training programmes for employees. Singapore’s Human Capital Leadership Institute can facilitate the process by providing insights into Asian organisational cultures and bringing together the best-in-class faculty members to lead the programmes. In 2013, for example, Unilever established Four Acres Singapore, its first global leadership development centre outside of the UK. Through Four Acres Singapore, Unilever will work with human capital consultancies, other companies and top academics from local and foreign Institutes of higher learning (e.g. INSEAD and Singapore Management University) to develop and conduct programs in Singapore that will train 900 participants annually, and build a pipeline of global leaders with a pan-Asian perspective.

Asian Consumer Behaviour Insights


AmorePacific Cosmetics Consumer Goods

AmorePacific Cosmetics

With its sun block and hydrating qualities, the Laneige Snow BB Soothing Cushion is very much a product designed for humid Southeast Asia. That’s why Korean cosmetics firm AmorePacific chose to create it in its Singapore Research & Innovation Center. Some reviewers claim the cushion helps cool the skin by up to 3C. “If we can create the products that can fulfil the needs of our customer in Singapore we can roll out these products to neighbouring countries as well,” says Ed Lee, AmorePacific’s ASEAN managing director. Lee’s firm hopes to launch a Singapore-originated product in the next few years. “We are ready to take on the challenge of making about three billion Asians’ dreams of beauty come true,” he says. “Singapore will play a key role in achieving this vision.”

Givaudan Consumer Products

Flavour and fragrance

Almost everything you eat or smell will have a touch of Givaudan in it. Not that you’ll know: consumer products usually contain less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s largest flavour and fragrance company’s creations. That doesn’t make them any less important. The almost 600-strong team of flavourists, perfumers, commercial and operations staff at Givaudan's creative centres and manufacturing facilities in Singapore produce thousands of smells and tastes each year that end up in numerous consumer products.

One reason behind Givaudan’s success is its familiarity with the region. Its staff can tell you that Indonesian consumers mean tangerines when they refer to oranges and that customers in Manila prefer a specific type of mango. “Our products are influenced by a rich heritage of culture and tradition, so you need to get the flavour right,” says Bernhard Schaufelberger, Givaudan’s Asia Pacific regional technical director. “Singapore’s multi-ethnic society makes it a great test environment for flavours that could work well in the greater Southeast Asian region.” There’s also the city’s status as a key logistics hub. “The whole supply chain functions seamlessly here,” says Givaudan's former creative director Asia Pacific Carlos Petri, who is now Senior Vice President for Consumer Products Fragrances for Latin America, referring to the importance of moving raw materials quickly so that his company’s products are shipped to customers on time. “That’s why ‘made in Singapore’ is a quality seal of approval.”



Asian Consumer Insight (ACI)

Institute on Asian Consumer Insight

The Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) is a world-class, one-of-its-kind, national-level research institute focused on Asian consumers. Started as an initiative of the Singapore Economic Development Board in 2011, ACI serves as a bridge between academia and industry, and its mission is to help companies grow their business in Asia based on profound market and consumer insights gathered through state-of-the-art research methodologies.

ACI conducts extensive research and help companies to develop customer-focused strategies based on insights about Asian consumers. Catered to each company’s needs, ACI recognizes the importance of understanding Asian consumers and the Asian market, and strives to provide relevant and impactful information to aid businesses understand Asian consumers and to create value in the areas of innovation, branding, new-markets development and new media initiatives that will impact your business results. ACI partners with significant industry players from the business community to conduct joint projects and forms academic partnerships for combined research.

For more information about ACI, and upcoming seminars and events, please visit

In association with Monocle, EDB brings to you a selection of people, places and products that make Singapore a nation that is punching far above its weight despite its relatively compact size and population (content first published in Monocle).

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Visit the following link to understand more about consumer business industry in Singapore

In association with Monocle, EDB brings to you a selection of people, places and products that make Singapore a nation that is punching far above its weight despite its relatively compact size and population (content first published in Monocle).


Mr CHAN Ih-Ming

Mr CHAN Ih-Ming

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