Consumerism and Branding

ABSTRACT

Consumerism has played a big role in economy and society of the present time. Consumerism is one of the main aspects that have helped the economy to have a good growth. Conspicuous consumption has also taken over the society where people are trying to classify themselves to a certain social status. Hence, branding identities has become one of the approaches used for marketing in the industry.

For this project, we are to propose a design to supply the demand required in Singapore. From the research that has been done, Singaporeans have a strong habit of eating out and therefore there will always be a demand for the food service industry. The proposal for the project would be of a restaurant targeted at the middle-upper class. The decision is supported by a chart that has shown the annual income derived from a restaurant has been at a constant growth despite of the economy crisis. This is because people who usually go to the restaurants come from the middle-upper range with a more stable financial power.

It is common in the modern days for people to take leisure in the place where they eat. This can be considered as consumerism in the service industry as well. Branding identities comes to place as the present society does measure one's social status from the place where they eat. In order to have a wholesome package of good branding of the restaurant, interior space design plays an important role to predetermine a proper identity for both the restaurant and the future customers. In the direction of proposing a potential scheme, a critical thought has been set for good site selection and design program.

CONSUMERISM THROUGH BRANDING IDENTITY

3. Introduction

Consumerism is defined as followed by

1. The state of an advanced industrial society in which a lot of goods are bought and sold

2. Disapproving when too much attention is given to buying and owning things (dictionary.cambridge.org)

3. Protection of the rights of consumers (www.collinslanguage.com/results.aspx)

Consumerism is understood as an action where people purchase goods more than necessary. It has been around ever since the first civilisation. However, it got popular during the Industrial Revolution period, when goods are produced in an affordable price and therefore were able to reach a wider range of people, promoting consumerism internationally.

4. Consumerism around us

4.1 Function and effect of consumerism

Since then and still growing till now, consumerism has been a tool for people to feel content by the purchase and owning the goods. This is also a media for people to determine, or at least attempt to, mark their status in the society.

As for the latter issue, consumerism has brought a positive effect on the economy. Therefore, it plays an important role in the financial system. It is the main factor of how the economy can have a good cycle. If people only purchase the essential goods, the economy will suffer and it will affect the stability of a country. Hence, consumerism is important to boost the economy. Moreover, consumerism is also one of the means of how people can get exposed to new technology and advancement.

However, consumerism has its disadvantages too. Although it is advantageous at encouraging a good economy cycle, consumerism means more usage of materials in the industry. This has been affecting the environment as it causes more wastage. Furthermore, the industries contributed to the pollution as well. There will always be an effect after an action; and on the environmental aspect, consumerism has caused an ecological imbalance and global warming.

4.2 Actions towards consumerism in the environment

Some actions have been taken to respond to the latter. More environmentally friendly and sustainable design has emerged. The society is also encouraged to take part in the action by having environmentally friendly habits, such as reducing the usage of plastic bags and such.

4.3 Branding trend in consumerism and identity

In the present context, consumerism is not just about selling the physical manufactured good but also the image or the branding of the product itself as well. It is an act for psychological satisfaction for the consumer. This leads to the fact that branding identities has been used by the manufacturers or producers to make the most of it as a strategy to get more people to be loyal or have a sense of belonging to the brand itself. Physical or functional attraction of the goods is no longer the key factors to attract buyers. “A transaction is like a one-night stand,” said a book titled Emotional Branding in which it means that there is only one business deal in a transaction. However, what the producers want are consumers that will keep using their products. They are trying to imply the contemporary branding by generating or promoting relationship between the consumers and the products (or the brand) through advertising and marketing (branding) in order to make people come back for more in the future. The old economy used to be focused on producing the manufactured goods itself. However, the economy strategy towards consumerism has changed. The new economy is now giving more attention towards creating brands or making the items more appealing psychologically to the targeted market.

Branded lifestyles, to some degree, have become substitute identities. It creates an identity that we develop by our own preference, and has the tendency to replace our original identity, such as traditional and cultural aspects. This view has been supported by Benjamin R Barber in his book titled Consumed (2007, Page 167).

5. Supplying the demand in Singapore

5.1 Demand of consumerism in Singapore (service category)

Consumerism can also be applied to the service industry. One of them is the F&B industry where people look for good eating place that does not provide only fine food but also good quality of service and environment. In Singapore, the demand for the food service industry is high as there is a strong habit of Singaporeans to eat out. It is also considered as lifestyle, especially for the middle-upper market. Singapore has been considered as a high-end playground, shown by the emergence of the casino (fig 1.1), the F1 tournament (fig 1.2) and such. It has developed as a world gourmet destination as well.

1.1 Singapore Integrated Resort 1.2 Formula 1 in Singapore 2008

As my approach, good branding identities would be of a useful tool to be implied to promote a restaurant and bring it to success. Branding identities is part of the lifestyle. It is common nowadays to consider the place of someone to eat or hang out; as a benchmark for the social status of that person. Therefore, branding the restaurant has become one of substantial elements to attract the targeted market customers to come back again and again. Branding a restaurant would be more towards the image and marketing of the restaurant in which preferably an in-context and appealing whole package. Therefore, branding the restaurant needs to be done thoughtfully, considering all the supporting aspects to be part of the image of the restaurant. In the modern days, good eating place does not supply good quality food only but also the environment that it provides as well as the atmosphere or the ambiance that has been the main intention of the interior designer to be projected for the customers to feel and experience while they are enjoying the food and the service presented. Therefore, spatial elements do hold a significant role in creating a good branding image to attract the right crowd of the people from the targeted market.

5.2 Providing the service needed / on demand in Singapore

Singapore is a city with a busy high-paced lifestyle where the stress level is considered high. A psychological research written in the book of John T. Haworth has shown that stress should be tackled with leisure in order to be able to live a healthy lifestyle (1997, page 138-141). Leisure can be both passive and active. The focus of passive leisure would be to deal with the emotion while active leisure is to be targeted at problem solving. Social support is considered as active leisure. Another study has shown that only personal social circles can help in dealing with stress related problems, social connection from either work or school usually are not efficient in doing so (Bolger and Eckenrode, 1991). Therefore, social leisure is an important reasoning of why people get together.

The proposal for this project would be of a restaurant targeted at the middle-upper market society. The main objective of the restaurant would be to provide a place where people can have a place to be away from the high-paced city lifestyle and have a relaxed moment at the restaurant. Clifford Pier is the ideal place for the design intention as it is a waterfront in which water has always been considered as a calming natural element. The location of the site itself is very supportive as well because it is secluded and tranquil but still placed at the heart of the busy area of the city, right at the hot developing area, Marina Bay.

Clifford Pier used to function as a port where people took ferries to go to the near islands. It operated from 1933-2006 and now conserved as a historical building. The issue that needs to be solved for this project is that as a historical place, Clifford Pier's original value for being a jetty has been neglected. Since Clifford Pier is a transit place that had been operating for such a long period, it had somehow captured the memories of the growth of Singapore. I believe that people who were around when Clifford Pier was still functioning as a port and actually made use of it in the past will be missing it dearly as it holds some of their memories. Therefore, Clifford Pier is precious enough to be revived with its essence being infused in the design so that it can be used again for people to either have a nostalgic time and/or have a good meal with great conversation. The restaurant that is intended to be created at Clifford Pier is a Tapas Bar where it serves small-serving food, hence promoting more interaction between the consumers so that they are not too engrossed with just enjoying the meal but also to make them able to have time to appreciate both the food and the surrounding such as the interior space and the great panoramic scenery of Marina Bay and The Integrated Resort. This will also promote more interaction with the other party that they are spending time with as this is one of the main intentions for the place being a place to relax, have a social leisure time and breaking away from daily pressure. This contributed to the main design intention to create a restaurant space that is both doing justice to the site by appreciating its original value as well as being comfortable and appealing to the future users of the space (for example, the customers of the restaurant and the employee).

The idea of the restaurant would be of the revival of Clifford Pier's soul in which the concept is derived from the nature of the function of the pier itself for being a place where people come and go to take the ferry service. Hence, the concept or keyword used to promote the creative design process is ‘interlink'. Interlink is used in the sense of Clifford Pier was a place where people departed and arrived from and to other islands. Although the boats and ferries were the ones that transported people from one place to another but Clifford Pier is the physical stationary connector of the whole journey as it is the gathering point for the people.

There was not much interaction between the people and the space in the past as most of them did not hang out at the pier. This project would be about encouraging more interaction and connection between the user to the space and within the spaces itself as well. Hence, the concept for the project is to create interlinked space. The interlinked space would be to promote interaction from various aspects. It will be between the spaces within the site, the spaces and users; as well as between the people themselves.

An interlinked space is shown in the space planning through curvy lines. Spatially, the interaction between the spaces within the capacity is shown through the circles of spaces that are connected by the lines that resulted in the curvy lines. Clifford Pier was built in the Art Deco style, designed with arches for both its exterior and interior. The beams of the building have been replaced with graceful concrete arched trusses. Hence, the curvy lines are a response to the feminine nature of the original architectural structure.

Interaction between the spaces and users would be interlinked through visual connection. The users of the space would have the ability to enjoy a visual interaction not only within the dining spaces itself but also to the service areas such as the open kitchen and storages. Different levels of spaces and non-solid room divider are used to promote such interaction (Fig 2.1).

2.1 View of the dining area with visual interaction with another space

The type of restaurant that would be infused to the site is Tapas Bar. Tapa is a Spanish style of food serving that comes in small portion. It is a social food where the intention of the servings is to promote interaction between the consumers. Therefore, tapas bar is suitable to be implied in the restaurant as its intention is communicative with the objective of design which is to provide a place to hang out and break away from the hustle bustle of the busy life in Singapore. This interaction between the users of the space can be encouraged through the visibility between the spaces.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, consumerism will help in promoting the success of the restaurant. This is because in the present time, branding identity in the society is a strong point to get consumers from the middle-upper class to be attracted to the restaurant in which interior design plays an important role within the whole package. An in-context design can be a great support for the latter as it gives more value not just for the new restaurant but also to the site itself as its essence of the original function of Clifford Pier as a port is infused to the new function that is designed at the site.

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