June 17, 2014 00:00 By Watchiranont Thongtep The Nat
Way to differentiate from rivals, spur growth
Leading brands in Singapore are focusing more on using design to differentiate themselves from rivals and improve their chances of growing regionally, according to the Singapore’s national agency for design.
“The TWG high-end tea brand is a good example of using total design in the product in order to create a unique experience. That’s why its customers are happy to pay 20 Singapore dollars for a cup of tea. It is not only for the product, but the brand experience. TWG is a Singaporean brand,” Jeffrey Ho, executive director at DesignSingapore Council, told The Nation.
The application of design to product development is an effective way to help local brands become international brands, he added.
The council provides a number of training and other activities to help local brands know how to apply design to create their own unique experience.
“Design is not only about aesthetics. It can bring about greater productivity in the case of a well-designed customer experience at a retail [or] food and beverage outlet,” Ho said.
Among the Singaporean businesses taking advantage of the council’s training courses on design are the Scanteak furniture-store chain, The Soup Spoon restaurants, the Salad Stop food chain, Raffles Medical Group and DBS Bank. Some of these already have a presence overseas but want to improve their images, customer experience and productivity.
The Cookie Museum restaurant and baked-goods shop is an example of a successful enterprise that has adopted design to improve customer experiences despite not receiving any training or sponsorship from the council.
To encourage the use of design to enhance productivity and innovation, in March the council launched the Singapore National Design Centre and revealed its strategy to focus on supporting the food, retail and information-communication service sectors over the next three years with grants and design-related training.
Ho said this was a milestone in Singapore’s journey towards using design for economic growth.
By end of next year, Singapore’s design cluster aims to add at least S$5 billion (Bt129 billion) to its gross domestic product, particularly through promoting integration between design and local brands.
The council also aims to create nearly 14,000 more jobs in the design cluster from 32,677 jobs in 2004 (about 1.4 per cent of Singapore’s labour force) to 46,000 jobs next year.