The Shop Small Research for Singapore was commissioned by American Express and undertaken by Kantar. This research was conducted online among 1,005 people, aged 21+, based in Singapore about their spending habits and sentiments. Respondents were sourced from the Kantar Profiles Audience Network. All interviews were conducted as an online self-completion survey between 11 and 23 May 2023 and collected based on controlled quotas evenly distributed between generations and gender in the country.
Gen Zs are an outlier in spending habits and perspectives: less emotionally attached to local businesses, but more willing to pay a premium for them
Millennials are the most empathetic: most willing to pay a premium for local products, most forgiving of poor customer experience, and care most about sustainability
Gen Xs tend to be driven by their desire to support the livelihoods of the local community
Baby Boomers are the most loyal in supporting local businesses
SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 31 July 2023 - Singapore: Most Singaporeans are supportive of local businesses, with each generation showing their support differently, according to the fourth Shop Small Research for Singapore. Baby Boomers showed the highest support and the most loyalty towards local businesses. Meanwhile, Gen Xs are driven to give back to the community and Millennials are the most willing to pay a premium at local businesses. Interestingly, Gen Zs are an outlier across several categories – compared to Baby Boomers, they tend to be less emotionally tied to local businesses, but are more likely to pay a premium for local brands.
Most Singapore consumers shop local, but Baby Boomers are the most loyal
Over 90% of the 1,005 survey respondents shop often at local businesses, compared to only 71% for international businesses – showing that most support local businesses. Compared to other generations, Baby Boomers are particularly loyal to local businesses, with 95% shopping often at local businesses and only 43% at international ones. On the other hand, Gen Zs are equally supportive of local and international businesses.
However, while most consumers shop local, only half agree supporting local is very important. There are also notable generational differences, with 63% of Baby Boomers agreeing, compared to only 44% of Gen Zs, 57% of Millennials, and 56% of Gen Xs.
Mr Marlin Brown, Country Manager for American Express Singapore said, “There is more room to galvanise support for local brands, especially among the younger generations who tend to see less importance in supporting local compared to the older generations. This is why American Express continues to encourage everyone to support local with movements like Shop Small, which is in its fourth year. To rally even more support this year, we are organising a Shop Small Pop-Up Market to further engage the community to celebrate local businesses.”
Open from 25 September to 1 October 2023 at Suntec City Atrium (Tower 1 and 2), the Shop Small Pop-Up Market will feature 16 local businesses, including social service agency ART:DIS. Shoppers can look forward to limited edition merchandise, designed by local artists, Isaac Liang, who is supported by SG Enable’s i’mable Collective, and Esther Goh. In addition, American Express Card Members will get S$3 back for every S$10 spent at over 3,500 participating businesses, up to five times, from 1 to 31 August 2023.
Gen Z: a different generation
When compared to the other generations, Gen Zs’ habits and perspectives are an outlier. Across generations, 35% indicated they would spend more in 2023 versus 2022. Gen Zs are the highest, with 40% expecting to spend more in 2023 versus 2022. The 2023 dining spend for Gen Zs (66%) is also significantly higher than the average across all generations (48%).
While Gen Zs are less emotionally tied to local businesses, they are more willing to pay a premium for local products, especially compared to the Baby Boomers. Among all respondents, 73% feel proud and a sense of home when they see Singapore products overseas – the largest group are Baby Boomers at 81%, while the smallest are Gen Zs at 67%.
Similarly, 57% of all respondents are concerned that Singapore’s heritage businesses will disappear in the next decade – the highest again are the Baby Boomers at 61% and the lowest are Gen Zs at 52%.
Heritage businesses like Hjh Maimunah are working hard to reach out to younger generations. Its second-generation owner, Ms Mastura Didih shared: “When children are introduced to traditional food earlier in their lives, they are more likely to develop a taste and interest for it later – this helps to pass on our culture and heritage to the next generation. I hope more young families will dine with us, so future generations learn more about our local food and culture.”
That said, Gen Zs are one of the more generous generations; 18% are willing to pay a premium for local businesses, higher than the average of 16% across all generations and Baby Boomers at 11%.
Millennials: the empathetic generation
Another trend the Shop Small Research found is Millennials tend to be more empathetic, compared to other generations. Among all generations, Millennials are the most willing to pay a premium for local businesses at 24%.
More Millennials also care about sustainability, compared to other generations. Thirty-six percent of Millennials agreed they would be more encouraged to support local business if they sell more sustainable products – versus 27% of Gen Zs, 26% of Gen Xs and 30% of Baby Boomers.
When asked how likely they would shop at a local business after a bad experience, on average, 22% would shop at the local business again. By generations, Millennials (32%) are the most forgiving, when compared to Gen Zs (19%), Gen Xs (20%) and Baby Boomers (16%).
Gen X: duty to the community
Among those who would give local businesses a second chance after a bad experience, 29% listed the desire to support the livelihoods of the local community as the top reason. The highest among all generations are Gen Xs at 37%.
Consumers shop local for convenience, value, experience, while feeling peace of mind and the kampung spirit
The top reasons Singapore consumers choose to shop with local businesses over international ones: convenience (68%), value for money (60%) and a more personalised customer experience (33%). Interestingly, 21% are also driven by their desire to maintain relationships with the staff or owners of these businesses – with Millennials (27%) and Gen Xs (24%) more likely to do so than Gen Zs (16%) and Baby Boomers (17%).
Local business owners also share these observations. Mr Jacob Cheong, second-generation owner of antique specialist, East Inspirations said: “Singaporeans appreciate locally made products, but we are also rational shoppers. We want the best bang for our buck. As a business, we always provide value to our customers – whether it’s sharing knowledge with our customers or adapting our business to the latest trends.”
Sentiment-wise, the top feelings when shopping at local businesses: peace of mind and comfort (48%), sense of community (40%), sense of purpose by supporting the community (40%). Baby Boomers (57%) especially feel peace of mind and comfort when shopping local.
Hjh Maimunah and East Inspirations are participating businesses in the 2023 Shop Small offer.
About Shop Small Research for Singapore
About Shop Small
Shop Small is a national movement founded by American Express in 2010 in the US to ignite passion for small and local businesses, call attention to the valuable contributions they make to their communities and the economy and encourage shoppers to support them. Learn more at americanexpress.com.sg/shopsmall.
About American Express
American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com.sg and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpresssingapore, instagram.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express and youtube.com/americanexpress.