The development of culture often has a powerful influence on a country’s retail industry. Anime and manga culture has spawned numerous unique products, such as character models, cafes and cosplay, that have made Japan a sought-after retail destination.
South Korea has arguably become a fashion powerhouse due to the industry’s close links with Hallyu, or the Korean wave. Singapore, however, has long taken a pragmatic view to economic development, prioritising “hard” industries over socio-cultural development.
Retail here has largely been driven by the importing of a wide range of renowned international brands. However, these brands also have a strong presence in other regional markets.
Entertainment and culture should not be dismissed as self-indulgent, but rather, be seen as a potential driver of economic growth. Singapore lacks unique cultural offerings of its own. This, coupled with high consumer prices, has made the city less appealing to overseas retail consumers and it has begun to lose out in the retail sector.
If Singapore wishes to maintain its competitiveness as a retail hub, it must challenge the assumption that “poetry is not a luxury we can afford”.
It should explore means of developing unique and lucrative cultural pursuits designed to appeal to an international market. The Government can destigmatise cultural pursuits by investing more in cultural projects and education, as well as opening more cultural space for budding talent.
(Source: Strait Times)