Talking to a Vietnamese consumer – Sway – in the course of an Ethnographic project in Central Vietnam, he queried “Do you come from Singapore? My teacher who has visited Singapore tells me that half the city lives underground?”
It took us a few seconds to decipher what Sway was referring to. He had heard about all the shopping malls and underground links in Singapore!
As a Vietnamese, the idea of living underground is not unfamiliar to him. But it does come with images of war and hardship. And so the idea of underground living in current times immediately gets his attention.
Meanwhile to Singaporeans, the idea of underground ‘living’ brings to mind a relief from the heat, long walkways filled with attractive window displays, places to eat. Sway’s perspective made us think differently about city living and what that means in today’s world.
Sway’s little comment reminded us of 2 important things when researching different markets:
1) The importance of considering context and how it impacts perceptions
2) The powerful potential of comparisons to think of what you already know in a different way