What the Preventive Healthcare Trend in Singapore’s Health & Beauty Market Means for eCommerce
Hui Shan Tan
July 10, 2023
In an earlier article on Health Supplements in Southeast Asia, we’ve uncovered the reasons behind the booming health supplements market in the region, and how consumers are increasingly willing to self-diagnose, self-medicate and self-monitor.
In this article, we’ll be zooming into the preventive healthcare market in Singapore, a country some consider to be the gateway to the rest of Southeast Asia1, and what that might mean for cross-border eCommerce.
With a tech-savvy population2 and an economy that is open to trade, Singapore continues to facilitate high levels of cross-border shopping and shipping via eCommerce. The ease of entering into the Singaporean eCommerce market can be seen as a good way to enter Southeast Asia, and you might find that conquering the consumer base here can make it much easier for you to enter the other neighbouring economies.
According to the World Research Foundation3, preventive healthcare refers to maintaining good health throughout a person’s entire lifetime, and to prevent diseases from happening in the first place. In Singapore, the government has been stepping up disease prevention4 by urging people to adopt healthier diets, as it moves to beef up the country's primary and community care network.
In countries where locals are among not just the longest-lived, but also the healthiest people5 in the world, like Germany, preventive healthcare will continue to be significant for consumers. For the past few decades, Singapore has been experiencing consistent economic growth and political stability in the country, and the preventive healthcare trend has implications for its populace.
In this case, Singapore’s demographics have begun to mirror that of other highly-developed nations such as Germany and Japan, where declining birth rates and ageing populations have become the norm.
On one hand, a declining birth rate and an ageing population6 may seem like a problematic issue for the government as it has to plan carefully to maintain its healthcare expenditure. On the other hand, it serves as a huge opportunity for the preventive healthcare market to meet the growing demand of consumers in Singapore.
With rising disposable income7 among consumers in Singapore, more people are able to afford health supplements and preventive healthcare products. In Southeast Asia as a whole, the health supplement product market is valued at close to $10 billion8, providing ample opportunity for health supplement brands beyond outside the region to enter the market via cross-border eCommerce.
Even though the term preventive healthcare may seem to only describe a smaller market of medication or health supplements, it actually also encompasses daily necessities from things like shampoo and body wash, to skin creams and baby food. This is because consumers increasingly purchase daily necessities with health concerns in mind.
Therefore, with a huge spectrum of goods in the preventive healthcare market, there remains a lucrative opportunity for merchants to enter Singapore. To better understand your potential customers, let’s first look at an overview of the preventive healthcare market in Singapore.
In Singapore, the following product categories are bought for preventive healthcare reasons:
Beauty and Personal Care;
Health Supplements; and
Baby and Child-Specific Products
To begin with, the beauty and personal care market in Singapore has been growing steadily since 2004, with an average year-on-year growth rate of 3.2%.9 In 2018, the retail value of sales in the market reached SGD1.7 billion and is predicted to reach over SGD2 billion by 2023. A few of the main products that are included in this segment are bath and shower products, cosmetics, hair care, oral care and sun care.
Next, the health supplements market in Singapore has also been growing consistently over the years. According to Euromonitor’s statistics on Vitamins and Dietary Supplements in Singapore, the market was worth SGD581.3 million in 2019, seeing a 25% growth from SGD462.8 million in 2014. Additionally, herbal products constitute a lower percentage of market share compared to standard products, holding 41% of the market share.
Lastly, based on a report by Euromonitor10, the baby and child-specific segment in Singapore has seen a growth rate of 3% and sales of SGD33 million in 2018. Over the forecast period, baby and child-specific products is expected to grow at a 4% current value CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) to reach sales of SGD39 million in 2023.
Based on the above figures, we can see that there exists a huge opportunity for newer merchants to enter the preventive healthcare market in Singapore. If you'd like a general overview of Singapore's eCommerce market, check out our Singapore eCommerce market insights and shipping guide.
Now that we have gotten a brief overview of the three main segments in the market, let’s dive into some of the key insights we’ve uncovered.
Key Insights about the Preventive Healthcare Market
Surge in demand for natural and restoring beauty and personal care products
Firstly, Singaporean consumers are becoming more aware9 of the potential damage that can arise from harmful or unnatural beauty and personal care products, and are increasingly interested in pursuing a holistic wellbeing. This has led to a surge of “natural”, “restoring”, “self-rejuvenating” and “detox” claims across many beauty and personal care categories.
Furthermore, it is also believed that organic products tend to contain gentler formulas11 that are more accommodating to sensitive complexions, and that they are typically made in small batches. This means that there exists a perception among consumers that organic products are produced with more care and attention on the brand’s part to what goes into the final vial or tube.
Additionally, consumers in Singapore9 are becoming more concerned about damage to their hair due to the humidity and air pollution. They yearn for beauty from head to toe, and are drawn to greater nourishment and protection methods. This leads to an extension of their hair care routine, signalling businesses to come up with more targeted claims such as having hydrating, restoring, detox, and protein smoothing properties.
With demand for various natural beauty and personal care products to prevent damage to skin, hair and body, merchants looking to gain a foothold in the market can cater to this demand.
Health supplements for busy Singaporeans
Secondly, more people in Singapore are popping health supplement pills12 as a quick fix when facing the pressures of a busy lifestyle. According to Ms Yvonne Wong, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, many Singaporeans do not have time to stay physically active and often indulge in meals that are unbalanced in terms of nutrition.
Pharmacy chains in Singapore say that demand for vitamins and supplements has grown over the past five years, with popular products including probiotics for the gut and fish oil, which is said to be good for the heart and brain.
As Singaporeans are known to be devoted to work, their desire for these products could suggest that they are inclined towards supplements that not only enhance their wellbeing but also improve their mental performance.
Since the usage of health supplements for preventive healthcare measures in Singapore has been on the rise, this market presents itself as a great opportunity for merchants to tap on.
Adult skincare concerns extend to baby and child-specific products
Thirdly, according to a report by Euromonitor10, the probiotics phenomenon is beginning to surge not only in adult skincare but also in baby and child-specific products. Probiotics in skincare have benefits that include reviving natural microbiome and restoring skin’s balance.
In the same report, it has also been stated that sun protection products from pharma/therapeutic brands such as Cetaphil, La Roche-Posay and Sebamed are increasingly gaining space on store shelves. Mothers often search eCommerce sites or specialist baby product retailers to discover imports that are safe to newborns and children.
Baby and child-specific sun care from pharma/therapeutic brands appeal greatly to these mothers for their dermatological positioning. VMV Hypoallergenics offers Armada Baby 50+, a sun protection product which can be used by both babies and mothers. It is free from fragrance and parabens and suits sensitive skin.
Preventive healthcare products that can be used by both mother and child appeal to families as it makes things more convenient when making the purchase. Now that we’ve understood the key insights in the preventive healthcare market, let’s explore the latest trends in Singapore.
Find out how Janio helps an eCommerce merchant ship his Australian Health Supplement products smoothly into Indonesia with our case study.
Product Trends in the Preventive Healthcare Market
Age-specific health supplements
In Singapore, customers these days tend to go to stores “with a lot of existing knowledge and research”, according to Ms Sarah Boyd, chief executive of Guardian Health & Beauty in Singapore and Cambodia. They have a better idea of what they are looking for, with some parents tending to buy probiotics as well as brain and immunity-boosting supplements for their children for example.
In comparison, working adults typically spend on both immunity and energy boosters, while seniors buy supplements such as glucosamine for joints or eye care products.
This means that when marketing your product, targeting specific age groups can help these consumers better understand the usefulness of your product compared to a more general product meant for all age groups.
Probiotics trend in baby and child-specific products
As mentioned earlier, the spotlight on the microbiome and probiotics in skin care is no longer limited to products for adults, but also on baby and child-specific products.
According to Euromonitor10, South Korean baby skin care brand, Boyan I, is gaining traction among mothers via word of mouth. The brand is known to contain a patented plant-derived probiotic (Lactobacillus sakei proBio 65). While Boyan I has a limited retail presence in Singapore and is not widely available in major retailers such as Watsons or Guardian, it is instead available via eCommerce sites.
This goes to show the significance of eCommerce in Singapore, as mothers increasingly trust and prefer the online shopping experience over physically shopping. As a newer merchant looking to enter the market, it would be beneficial to make use of eCommerce to appeal to consumers in Singapore.
Hence, this brings us to our final part of the article, where we’ll further explore how cross-border eCommerce can help you expand into Singapore.
Interesting Example: Protective shower filters
Under new bath and shower products, a scented shower water filter9 has been introduced in Singapore, as highlighted by Euromonitor. The filter can be attached between the showerhead and the hose, or directly to the tap to remove chlorine and harmful particles from water.
Protective shower filters are increasingly popular among Singaporean consumers13 because tap water in the country is treated and disinfected using chlorine. While this chemical is what makes our tap water free from bacteria and keeps it safe for drinking, it is also known to cause eczema, dry skin and damaged hair when used for showering.14
Hence, the protective shower filter is a new hygiene method that takes the form of preventive care, filtering out eczema or rash-triggering particles before they touch human skin. This water filter is likely to remain attractive to consumers because it has benefits that go beyond conventional body wash/shower gel products, which wash off harmful particles only after they have landed on human skin.
Entering the Preventive Healthcare Market in Singapore with Cross-Border eCommerce
Leveraging on Singaporeans’ interest in foreign brands
In Singapore, foreign brands are generally well-received by locals in all three segments of preventive healthcare.
For instance, foreign health supplement brands constitute a large percentage of the entire market. According to the US Department of Commerce, health supplement brands from the US, Europe, Australia and Japan are highly sought after in Singapore. 24% of the total imports for the health supplement market in Singapore in 2015 was from USA alone, with big names such as GNC and Centrum being identified as the most popular brands.
On a similar note, some of the most popular beauty and personal care brands9 in Singapore are foreign brands which include L’Oreal, Procter and Gamble, and Estee Lauder Cosmetics, which hold 11%, 9%, and 6% of market share respectively. While these multinational companies (MNCs) are based in France and the USA, they remain very popular among locals.
Furthermore, as the interest in Korean beauty products continues to grow in Southeast Asia, Singaporean consumers are no exception to the trend. Brands such as Acwell Skincare, Some By Mi, SON&PARK and Stabilized Rice Bran (SRB) are popular among Singaporeans on eCommerce platforms like Shopee and Qoo10, and rank within the top few beauty and personal care products on these platforms.
Some of these products are also available on Sephora and Watson’s online stores, and other popular online stores in Singapore. This is significant because while these Korean beauty brands do not have their own physical outlets in the country, they are still able to capture market share through the use of eCommerce. Hence, being able to appeal to consumers through online methods can be very useful in a country where consumers are digitally-inclined.
Johnson & Johnson Pte Ltd10 also holds a strong lead in baby and child-specific products through its popular Johnson’s Baby brand. Celebrating Johnson’s Baby’s 125th anniversary in 2018, the company launched a donation campaign, collaborating with the KKH Health Fund, a local charity linked to Singapore’s largest hospital specialising in women’s and children’s healthcare.
In this campaign, Singaporeans could simply take a photograph of their baby and upload it on Instagram with the #BetterWorldForBabies15 hashtag, with Johnson’s Baby donating SGD1 to the KKH Health Fund for every post on Instagram.
With such support for foreign products, it definitely makes sense to stock newer brands if you’re looking to enter the health and beauty market in Singapore. You need not be afraid of negative consumer perceptions surrounding foreign brands as Singaporeans are generally accepting of them.
Taking advantage of the popularity of eCommerce in Singapore
Singapore’s eCommerce market is set to grow 48%16 to US$9.98 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. While home to a relatively small population compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, 84% of Singapore’s population, or 5 million people, are internet users in the country according to the Digital 2019 Singapore17 report conducted by Hootsuite and Wearesocial.
Additionally, Singaporeans have the highest average total amount18 spent for every order in Southeast Asia, with basket sizes averaging US$91 per purchase according to a report by iPrice. Statista also reports that in 2019, the amount spent on Food and Personal Care Products from eCommerce by Singaporean consumers totals to US828.3 million, and is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.
With a landscape highly receptive towards eCommerce and online shopping, merchants can easily enter the Singaporean market through cross-border shipping. According to iPrice19, a few of the top eCommerce platforms in Singapore are:
Lazada (7,803,900 monthly web visits)
Qoo10 (6,943,100 monthly web visits)
Shopee (4,117,000 monthly web visits)
EZBuy (1,366,200 monthly web visits)
Zalora (1,197,800 monthly web visits)
Merchants who have yet to enter Singapore can consider listing their preventive healthcare products on the most popular eCommerce marketplaces in the country. As these platforms get millions of traffic each month, they may help to make things easier for new merchants to gain a foothold in the online retail scene before venturing on their own eCommerce site.
While Singapore may appear as a saturated market filled with large barriers to entry from competitors, the preventive healthcare market is still a growing one that provides many opportunities for newer merchants to enter the market. Furthermore, with changing preferences towards natural and damage-preventing products, there lies room for fresh brands to meet the demand.