Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shopping Extravaganza: Promotions,Bundles, and Cirque du Soleil

Shopping in Singapore is quite the experience.  It is apparently the national pastime, which is still a puzzle.  Professional salaries, and salaries in general are lower here than in the US, the rate of savings is higher, the cost of living is the third highest in the world (most everything here is more expensive than what we are used to).  Yet there are stores and shopping malls everywhere, and they are all packed with shoppers.  How do they stay in business?  Of course it is holiday time, so any conclusions and judgment should be tempered by seasonal considerations.  I'll check back with you in late January for an updated report.
Shopping malls are more than just a place to purchase goods.  They are a destination, a place for entertainment, a place to take the family.  Each mall seems to try to out-do the others in order to attract shoppers.  I like them, and suspect this is a major draw for others, because they are air conditioned, and a good refuge from the heat and humidity outdoors.  (Have I mentioned it gets very hot here?)  They are also generally very noisy.

To bring in shoppers the malls will often host entertainment events.  This past weekend we were touring the shops and malls along Orchard Blvd.  This is the POSH area of Singapore, and major center for high-end shopping-- Prada, Gucci, Armani, etc.  All of the Italians are here, and many of the Swiss--  Rolex, Tag Heuer, etc.  We wandered into one of the many malls along here called Orchard Central, for no particular reason.  (As an aside, this mall happens to have an interesting attraction of an indoor climbing wall.)  Although it was adjacent to our former service apartment, we had not spent much time in it-- I think I went in once.  There was a crowd gathering and a small stage set up in the "pavillion" of the mall (most malls, including this one are open to all floors in the center, and the area is used for special events or promotions).  We discovered that a show was about to begin.  The show turned out to be a version of Cirque du Soleil, and we were treated to 30 minutes of AMAZING choreographed gymnastics.
There was a large hula-hoop like device, that a gymnist used to do some stunts, rolling around on it.  (Doesn't he get dizzy?)

No-- not one of the Chippendales.  This was an amazing act, where this buff gymnist performed, using the hoop device.

Then three men came out with what looked like plastic pipes, bundled together.  This turned out to be a springy version of a balance beam.  Two of the men held the ends of the pipes on their shoulders, and the third proceeded to perform flips and such on the flexible beam--  much like a 4" wide trampoline.
The next act was classic Cirque du Soleil-- an aerial gymnastics/ballet routine on rope-like curtains with a man and woman gymnists.  They performed the act blindfolded!

OK-- not the aerial act.  I was only able to take these two pictures.  However, you can see the tower and rope-like sheets hanging from the tower that was used for the aerial act.
The final act was performed by two men and a woman on  a trampoline, next to a wall with some varied height platform areas in it.  (Sorry, no pictures of this).  The gymnists proceeded to do flips, wall walks, and synchronised routines on the trampoline, and on and off of the stages.  No spotters, no nets for any of this.  (From my perspective, there also was an escalator that seemed dangerously close to the trampoline--  no mis-haps while we were watching).
The show was free-- anywhere else we would have needed to buy tickets.  What a treat!
 Promotions and Bundles
Another popular scheme here for drawing customers are promotions.  We would call these sales, or specials.  However, they seem to be a daily thing, and they are everywhere and for anything.  Again, perhaps an artifact of the holiday season.  Promotions come in many forms--  a reduced price for limited time, a free "gift" when you purchase an item, or a set of raffle tickets (depending upon the dollar amount spent) giving you the chance to win a car, a cruise, or a holiday stay somewhere.  I purchased an iron, and lucky me-- received not one but two T-shirts, each with a euro 1 cent coin in the package.  (Why euro?-- the iron was a European brand).  Elaine has acquired two Christmas coffee mugs because of our copious shopping spree.  And we acquired a "free" network router (which we didn't need)when we signed up for our broad-band service.  Promotional items such as this often require a separate trip to somewhere else (e.g. a warehouse) for redemption-- I needed to go to a different shopping mall after a particular date to receive our router.
Bundles are also big.  Instead of buying the Brand X tea kettle, you can buy Brand Y's tea kettle, which is bundled together with their toaster, for the same or a slightly higher price.  Of course Brand Y is a lesser quality than Brand X, and you really didn't need the toaster-- but hey, who can pass up a nearly free toaster?

Of course having promotions, bundles, and events requires getting the word out.  There are newspaper ads, people wearing advertising T shirts, and flyers handed out at MRT stations, escalators, and on the street.  Also a variant of the old-fashioned sandwich boards...

21st Century sandwich board advertisement--  walking along Orchard Road.

Another common activity, particularly in the tourist areas is touting.  Shop and restaurant employees lurk outside the entrances of their establishments and attempt to lure prospective customers, typically with promises of free this or that, or special prices. ("Promotions").  We went to one restaurant where we were promised free drinks with our dinner.  Oddly enough the drinks showed up on the bill, which then required some effort to get corrected. The barage of touts from the touters can be very fatiguing when there is a large density of shops or restaurants along path of travel, and you are seeking a relaxing evening out.  (Some malls and places forbid "touting") 

I am not  a big shopper, but perhaps I will become one while we are here (Jim-- realistically, you will need a job first).  Ironically there are public service ads in the MRT stations about the ill effects of gambling addiction on families and people.  Are shopping the promotions another form of addiction?

No comments:

Post a Comment