Bridges: What qualities have enabled Kadence to become a leading market research agency in Singapore?
Derek Goh, Country Manager of Kadence Singapore: We believe in raising the impact of research by helping businesses make better decisions when strategizing, whether it is within the space of B2B or B2C.
In order to achieve that goal, we know it is critical that we understand their needs and align ourselves with them. Our strongest qualities are embedded in our five core values, which in turn effectively cements the business bonds that we share with our long-time clients.
Curiosity. The client’s business questions become ours. We dig deeper and wider to uncover the truest of insights, that shed light on the heart of the issue. Asking questions of the questions from our clients then allows us to give them the answers that will effectively lead to business decisions and planning that make a difference to their intended goals and objectives.
Futuristic. We understand the difference between insights and foresight; by keeping an eye on the ‘now’ through the execution of strategic research studies, it forms the understanding of how to plan for the future. A key question clients ask us, besides ‘so what?’ is ‘what’s next?’, and we have been working with numerous clients to help them road-map their way into business success.
Agile. In our books, this stands for ‘moving nimbly with purpose’. In the day-to-day of dealing with clients’ needs, we understand the pressures they are working with, and often look at the best solutions which we can put forth, that’s timely, reasonable and achievable, without sacrificing quality.
Dependable. Moving into even more concrete territory, and not just focusing on aspirational concepts, we have proven time and again to clients that we’re the agency they can count on to deliver top-quality work within a suitable time-frame. We prioritize clients’ needs when the occasion calls for it, and ensure that while their worries are ours too, our worries never become theirs.
Genuine. All in all, the most important quality that we display to our clients, so they not just know, but can also feel, that we have their success at heart. Supporting their business goals is top priority, and our various touchpoints reinforce this notion that we truly care about the work that we are given by them, and the delivery standards that need to be achieved.
As a regional hub, how does the agency’s ‘cross-geography sensibilities’ help win new business?
Singapore is factually a smaller market relative to its neighbours by way of numerical value and sheer volume, but in terms of importance and significance, it has always been ahead simply due to the fact that it’s recognized that fact, and knows how to ‘flex up’ and create a premium position for itself, by always thinking about ‘connections and ‘facilitation’.
Similarly, the way that Kadence Singapore conducts new business, it is motivated by that same principle. Whether it’s trying to understand Thai consumers’ preferences towards Japanese alcoholic soda, or Malaysians’ perceptions of Japanese fruits, the Singapore office always ‘touches base’ with its regional counterparts/local offices, such that when new business opportunities arise, it’s in the best position to offer local expertise, but with a regional viewpoint.
Your personal expertise is in financial services, technology, education and tourism. Which sectors across the region are proving to be most important to Kadence?
Regionally, these four specific sectors continue to be core industries that Kadence focuses on; the tech start-up scene in Southeast Asia continues to develop at a pace that is still hugely encouraging to local economies, whether it be in the space of ed-tech, med-tech or fintech.
On Fintech, it is also the reason why Financial Services Industry (FSIs) continues to be a vibrant economic playing field – the pace of development in payments, for example, and digital banks in Singapore are all evidence that we have our fingers on the pulse of changes in these industries. The post-COVID revival of travel is only getting stronger by the day, and the education market has weathered the pandemic well enough to bounce back too.
While there are also other industries that are promising to Kadence within the region (e.g., automobiles, specifically EVs and the potential mobility evolution resulting from the increasingly widespread adoption of it within Southeast Asia; media and entertainment, where global giants recognize the need to localize and appeal to diverse taste and preferences in a very heterogenous region).
We believe these four sectors represent a good range of concerns and needs that all B2C and B2B companies can identify with, and us continuing to offer insightful and impactful viewpoints that represent true customer/consumer needs will unlock business success to whomever we work with.
What challenges have you seen your partner companies face in recent years and how do Kadence solutions enable them to get closer to customers?
Pre- and post-COVID, just based on the business issues and resulting projects that we have been working on, there are two main challenges our clients are facing, and how we have helped them:
(1) The ‘meaning’ of their respective brands – in the past two years, as the pandemic began to ease its grip within the region, we started to get a lot of briefs from clients who want to fundamentally understand whether the ‘old normal’ of where their brand stands with their customers/consumers still makes sense/holds true.
Whether it’s education, shipping/logistics or finance, COVID has shaken up how consumers’/customers’ belief systems, and how they view brands in relation to their newfound needs and priorities must be established. More importantly, such an assessment also needs to be contextualized within the category/sector, and against competitors.
Our solutions around Brand Equity, which helps clients identify and gain insight on what the new perceptions are of their respective brands, instil confidence in their strategies and business actions going forward, once they know that they are not operating what they ‘think’ they know, but what actually ‘is’.
(2) Disruptive behaviour and the ‘new normal’ – on the point about finance brands, the constant emergence of fintech players that does specific things very well, inevitably answer consumer/customer needs in a deep way, and chips away at the traditional stronghold of what banks do. The pandemic exposed chasms between what consumers/ customers truly desire, and how banks have not been playing faster game than their smaller and more nimble competitors.
On this front, our ability to tailor bespoke research solutions, designed for the specific context of trying to uncover the divide between ‘expectations’ and ‘experiences’, result in findings that vividly enables the client to understand where established behaviours have shifted, and how they can then change their organizations/approaches to be more ‘customer centric.’
What is your vision for Kadence in Singapore and across the region in 2023/2024?
Within Singapore, my vision is to elevate the importance of research in the boardroom when companies make strategic decisions and establish the centrality of its role across different units within the organization. Economic vibrancy is dependent on companies across every sector, all performing their best to healthily compete against one another, and in the process, put forth products and services that increase the quality of Life for whomever buys them.
We want to support this ultimate journey, and by integrating our offerings more closely to our clients, and for them to really regard us as ‘partners’, and not just ‘vendors’ or ‘suppliers’, it begins with us communicating this ambition, and identifying clients who have similar beliefs and goals.
Across the region, the ambition holds true as well, but it will need to account for the different nature of businesses, economic progress, cultural norms and consumer/customer truths.
In order to fulfil the objective of being a true ‘regional hub’, the immediate ‘job to be done’ would be to leverage the relationships that we have already established through our local offices in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, and then facilitating our success by empowering theirs.
22 Malacca Street #11-00 RB Capital Building Singapore 048980
+65 6372 8710