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Pervasive internet access to impact on retail scene in Singapore experts

Channel NewsAsia Online
5 December 2006

Pervasive internet access to impact on retail scene in Singapore: experts

Synopsis

The popularity of internet is set to grow exponentially with the roll-out of Wireless@SG. Such rapid growth of broadband penetration will change the retail scene in Singapore, especially on the way businesses will be transacted.

“Increasingly the consumption behaviour can leverage on information sharing with people who have purchased products, people who have common interest and who are likely to purchase similar products,” says Leon Perera, Group Managing Director of Spire Research Consulting.

Pervasive internet access will fundamentally modify the way consumers purchase, as seen from the Korean experience.

“There is a very interesting phenomenon in Korea by these e-communities. These e-communities bring about a couple of things; one is common interest, and second, the e-community members are equal in terms of their social life. So they do not ask what your job is, what’s your profession, salary or your social profile,” says Dr Justin Hanse Lee, MD of Spire Research and Consulting. 

To date, Korea has some 34 million registered subscribers with 2 million online communities catering to groups with different interests.

Despite the apparently lucrative side to the online population, businesses could be challenged in their dealings with e-communities.

“It’s a threat or a danger, because companies would need a different engagement model to reach out to the e-communities. The individuals who take part in e-communities are notoriously suspicious of individuals with a commercial agenda, suspicious of commercialisation,” says Perera.

“So companies would need more subtle engagement models such as sponsorship of events for example, discrete advertising and so on in order to market their products through these kinds of channels,” he adds. The new phenomenon is expected to gain exponential growth in Singapore in 2007 and beyond.

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