Nothing changes faster than the digital landscape, with COVID-19 proving to be the ultimate disrupter for both businesses and consumers. With the pandemic set to spill into 2021, we explore how Singapore’s digital landscape is likely to look in 2021. 

Digital landscape in Singapore: The stats

Singapore has a vibrant and ever-evolving digital landscape. As of January 2020, the key statistics are as follows

Internet users

Out of a population of 5.83 million, 5.14 million people in Singapore are online, which represents a high penetration rate of 88%. 

Social media usage 

From April 2019 to January 2020, there was an increase of 72,000 or 1.6% more active social media users in Singapore.

There are now more than 4.6 million active social media users in Singapore as of January 2020, which represents 79% of the total population.

Device ownership 

The following figures are the percentage of internet users aged 16 to 64 in Singapore who own these devices:  

  • Mobile phone: 96% 
  • Smartphone: 95%
  • Laptop or desktop computer: 78% 
  • Tablet device: 47% 
  • Device for streaming TV content over the internet: 16% 
  • Game console: 21% 

Average daily time spent with media

The average daily time that internet users aged 16 to 64 in Singapore spend with each kind of media and devices is as follows: 

  • Using the internet: 6 hours 48 minutes
  • Using social media: 2 hours 8 minutes
  • Watching TV: 2 hours 34 minutes
  • Listening to music streaming services: 1 hour 8 minutes 
  • Using a game console: 45 minutes  

As COVID-19 changes the way people work and live as well as how businesses operate, these figures are only expected to increase. 

In June 2020, the Government also announced that it’s setting up a Ministerial Committee for Digital Transformation. The aim is to create jobs for Singaporeans in the digital economy and help small businesses go online. All segments of the population are expected to benefit from this digitalisation push, even hawkers and seniors. 

Given this digital landscape, it’s no wonder Singapore is ranked second in the world as the world’s most digitally competitive country after the United States, and is the world’s smartest city

Digital landscape in Singapore: Most visited websites  

The 10 most visited websites in Singapore are ranked as follows: 

As ranked by SimilarWebAs ranked by Alexa

Digital landscape in Singapore: Media consumption

According to a market research study published in July 2020, more people in Singapore have been using devices such as laptops and tablets since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here’s the percentage of users who say they’ve been using the following devices: 

  • Laptop: 51%
  • PC/desktop: 29%
  • Smartphone/mobile phone: 69% 
  • Tablet: 24%

Given the social distancing measures, people have also been staying at home more often and finding ways to stay connected. This has lead to an increased in these activities at home: 

  • Creating or uploading videos (e.g. on YouTube, TikTok): 11%
  • Spending longer on messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger): 45%
  • Spending longer on social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter): 41%
  • Spending more time on apps: 39%   

Online shopping behaviour in Singapore

A woman looking at her credit card as she completes her online shopping payment
Singaporeans are spending more time and money shopping online.

Likewise, the coronavirus outbreak has also made an impact on Singaporeans’ online shopping behaviour. 

20% of Singapore residents admit that they’re spending more time shopping online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

These are what Singaporeans are shopping more online: 

  • Alcohol: 5% 
  • Chocolate: 5%
  • Clothes: 14%
  • Cosmetics/beauty products: 12% 
  • Entertainment items (e.g. books, films): 9% 
  • Food/grocery products: 32% 
  • Gifts for other people: 5%
  • Home appliances/furniture: 7% 
  • Home/garden items: 4% 
  • Household essentials (e.g. household cleaner, toilet tissue): 25% 
  • Personal care products (e.g. toothpaste, shampoo): 22% 
  • Treats for themselves: 14% 
  • Vacations to take in future: 4%

According to a study by iPrice Group, Singaporeans spent an average of $113 online per person from January to June 2020. The average number of items per purchase also increased by 51% compared to the same period in 2019.

On the whole, 44% of Singaporeans expect they would shop online more frequently post-outbreak. 

Based on this digital landscape, businesses should move towards selling popular product categories online, such as food and grocery, household essentials, as well as personal care products if they haven’t already done so. 

Brand perception in Singapore

In terms of advertising campaigns, half of Singaporeans generally approve (“strongly approved”: 11%, “somewhat approve”: 39%) of brands running normal advertising campaigns that are not related to the coronavirus. 

Only a small portion of Singaporeans “strongly disapprove” (3%) and “somewhat disapprove” (7%) of brands running normal advertising campaigns in times of the pandemic.  

In addition, the majority of Singaporeans “strongly approve” (23%) and somewhat approve” (52%) of brands providing funny or light-hearted videos or content that entertains. 

More Singaporeans also “strongly approve” (36%) and “somewhat approve” (50%) of brands providing practical information or tips that help people deal with the COVID-19 situation. 

Hence, brands are encouraged to run advertising campaigns as per normal. At the same time, they can also provide practical information or tips to help people cope with the global outbreak, as well as share funny and entertaining light-hearted content. 

Type of info and content people in Singapore want

As of April 2020, Singaporeans are interested in the following types of information: 

  • Financial advice: 25%
  • Ideas for things I can do at home: 24%
  • Information about how I can volunteer to help: 15%
  • News stories on things not related to coronavirus: 21%
  • Positive/feel-good stories about reactions to coronavirus: 32%
  • Tips on how to stay active/healthy: 35%
  • Updates on the situation
    • in my country: 62%
    • my local area: 41%
    • in other countries: 50%

As Singaporeans spend more time at home, they also want more of the following types of content:

  • Films: 33%
  • Funny videos/memes: 29%
  • How-to/tutorial videos to help you learn new skills: 32%
  • Live-streams from artists/bands: 16%
  • Repeats of classic/popular TV shows: 20% 
  • Repeats of classic sports matches/events: 10%
  • Live-streams from sports stars/teams: 9%
  • Live-streams of esports: 8%
  • Updates from bloggers/vloggers: 8%

Interest in online learning

Singaporeans are also interested in online learning. 18% of them said they are “extremely interested”, while 32% are “very interested” in enrolling in online learning courses. 

According to a study by NTUC LearningHub, 66% of Singaporean adults are learning online. They do this to reskill and gain more knowledge in their current field, as well as on new topics. 

Popular topics Singaporeans are learning online include: 

  • Office productivity tools: 50%
  • Leadership: 49%
  • Service excellence: 41%
  • Data analytics and business intelligence: 35% 
  • Digital marketing and e-commerce: 32%

What businesses can do 

Given the pandemic-driven digital landscape, it’s more pertinent than ever that businesses around the world leverage digital marketing to reach their customers. If your business hasn’t begun building a digital presence, you might be missing out on an incredible business opportunity. 

Boost digital presence with SEO and digital ads

One of the ways is to make your website more visible on Google is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Find out how to maximise your brand visibility in search results with this SEO guide for your website. 

Investing in the right digital advertising channels is another way to introduce your service and product offerings to the masses. Pay-per-click and display ads on Google, social media platforms, as well as e-commerce platforms can drive more traffic to your website. 

Read here for tips on planning the right mix of digital advertising channels for your business. 

Produce engaging content to increase engagement

Content marketing can also help with increasing engagement. When creating content, think about what your business can offer instead of hard-selling your products and services. 

Helpful, high-quality content can help you engage your audiences and convert them into customers over time.  

Getting started with content marketing? Here are helpful tips. 

You might also want to read about our take on how emerging tech will change the way we do content marketing here. 

Make the online shopping experience more seamless

When it comes to e-commerce, convenience is key. 

Create a seamless and intuitive online shopping experience by categorising and posting clear descriptions of your products and services. The checkout experience should be the smoothest and easiest possible with auto-filled customer details, where possible. 

By delivering high-quality, engaging content and seamless online shopping experience, you can definitely keep your followers and customers coming back for more. 

Need help in building your digital presence? We’re here to help.