To be successful in business, a firm should be able to come up with strategies aimed at acquiring a market share for its products. The best way of getting this crucial market share is by understanding the consumer behavior that motivates their consumption of a given product. To do this, it is important for the firm to carry out sufficient study to understand the consumers’ psychology of how they think, feel, reason and make their selection decisions when faced with a scenario that invites them to do so between different products, brands or even retailers.
The psychology of how consumers’ tastes and preferences are affected by their culture is also fundamental when laying strategies for winning a market share. It is important to understand further that products are likely to be received differently in different regions depending on the aforementioned factors. This paper analyses the similarities and differences between consumer behavior in Singapore and Brunei Darussalam on the food products sold by Bengawan Solo (one of Singapore’s most successful bakery chains with specialization in Pastries and Nona style cakes).
• Tastes and Preferences
Consumers in Singapore have developed a very high taste and preference for Bengawan solo products. The high taste and preference for these products is attributed in Singapore majorly to experience that people have grown to enjoy through consuming the products made by Bengawan. Taste and preference are developed over time. As the company aspires to expand to Brunei, Bengawan’s cakes will not be received as they are in Singapore in the short term. It takes times for a consumer to establish their taste for a particular product.
For Bengawan, it will be important that marketing efforts are pursued to arouse consumer awareness and curiosity towards the products in the new market. Once the consumers get an opportunity to taste a product in Brunei, they will be able to rate the products. This will influence the overall consumers’ taste and preference towards Bengawan’s food products. However, it is expected that consumers in Singapore will always have a higher taste and preference for Bengawan’s products given the strong historical background that the bakery enjoys among its faithful consumer’s in Singapore (Avinash & Jung, 2004).
• Hofstede dimension theory for Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
Power Distance: it is important to understand the ethnic composition of both countries in order to assess the effect of power distance on consumer behavior. To begin with, it is imperative to note that Singapore consists majorly of Malays, Indians, and Chinese, whereas, Brunei majorly comprises of Malays and Chinese among other smaller ethnic groups. The Malays who are Muslims willingly accept inequality as part of nature and so are Indians; the Chinese do not embrace power distance. Power distance affects consumer behavior through its influence on opinion seekers (Avinash & Jung, 2004). It is evident that Bengawan solo products through the support they receive in Singapore will receive due credit in Brunei since the two the country shares a lot with Singapore in terms of the influence of consumers taste and preference arising from power distance.
Asians generally show high collectivism in taste and preferences. It is due to collectivism that over 99% of Malays are Muslims. Indians also show high collectivism by embracing doing things in a similar manner. This aspect is shared by both countries and has a very high effect on consumer behavior. Research reveals that it is common for these people with high collectivism to embrace the use of a particular brand. This means that it will not be easy for Bengawan solo to popularize its products in Brunei as is the case in Singapore. However, the products will be received by the Chinese in Brunei since the Chinese show more individualistic traits when compared to the other ethnic groups. This leaves Bengawan with one option when going to invest in Brunei; it has to target the regions heavily occupied by Chinese and then from there, it can later gradually conquer the other regions.
Uncertainty avoidance: in consumer behavior, it is important to establish the weight that prospective consumers attach to risk avoidance. Malays do not embrace uncertainty avoidance through their strong belief in Muslim religion where risks in life are expected to be addressed with by God. People with low- uncertainty avoidance tend to show high taste and preference for a particular product for long and changing it is not easy (Toddy, 2009). This will greatly affect Bengawan since the majority of Brunei population is composed of Malays.
The word of mouth greatly affects the consumer’s perception of a given product. This is even strong where opinionated people are given audience. In both countries, opinions play an important role in influencing consumer behavior. The fact that Bengawan is well perceived in Singapore will be a selling point in Brunei.