The 5Cs were groundwork, foundation on which a new set of Cs have developed. No longer do a certain set of materialistic obsessions speak about your status in life, there are new ethos and bigger ambitions for one to pursue.
Just a while back, being able to recite the 5Cs of Singapore: Cash, Car, Credit Card, Condominium and Country Club (membership), meant you know a thing or five about the average Singaporean and the game they are playing at. The unwritten rules of engagement read something like:
“Welcome to the Rat Race of your life! Collect all 5Cs to redeem a massclusive “social acceptance” badge! Simply flash your badge and receive a ride to “success”, where you will alight directly at “happiness”. Please fasten your seatbelt, and have a pleasant journey.”
Like any good joke, the 5Cs were founded on truths. Well, certain truths at least, attesting to the Singaporean cultural ethos of materialistic obsession, ambition, and aspiration to achieve – economically.
But that’s old news now. As Singapore becomes more affluent, the 5Cs have gone from aspirational, to attainable. To get to know the new wave of Singaporean consumers, consider 5Cs 2.0: (Note: the ideal Singaporean has the following 5Cs ON-TOP-OF the traditional 5Cs)
1. C for CHILDREN
“Have children for the right reason. The number of Facebook likes for instance.” – Unknown
A mum pushing her baby in a cosi pram is the equivalent of a man arriving at a stop-light in a Ferrari. Children, and all their accompanying bells and whistles, are the new status symbol. In a famous 1994 interview, legendary leader of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said the following “… the family to push economic growth… We were fortunate we had this cultural backdrop: the belief in thrift, hard work, filial piety and loyalty and the extended family, and, most of all, the respect for scholarship and learning.” Two decades on, the roses are in beautiful bloom and its no wonder Singaporeans wish to stop and smell it. We’ve had some years of churning; ready to do some burning, i.e. we used to have children to make more money, now we have children to spend our money on.
2. C for CAUSE
Whether it is campaigning against violence, or pro LGBT rights, petitioning against government policies or donating to science, saying no to sharks’ fin, or saying yes to ethical foie gras, wearing a yellow rubber band or a pink ribbon, choosing a cause as an extension of one’s personal brand, and fighting issues that impacts one and one’s community, has become the single largest driver of Singaporean Facebook chatter. It symbolizes we have come of age as a people, we have developed a taste for passion, we are an evolved being. Getting the Car, Condo, Career, Credit Card and Country Club membership is just having a good soup, salad and steak. Supporting a cause is pairing it with superb wine.
To reiterate, if you want this evolved Singaporean society to sit attention, and pay up, consider the following: Fund-Raisers, Awareness Campaigns, Donation-Drives, Charity-Balls, Movements, XX-for-a-good-cause, hashtag-for-a-purpose, IceBucketChallenge.
3. C for COMPANY
The beauty of this word is that It actually covers 2 slightly overlapping Cs. The first kind of “Company” is an actual business you own. Thanks to rat-race opt-outs that have made it colossal, like Steve Jobbs, Mark Zuckerberg, guy-who-sold-his-app – the average person now holds a day-job while harbouring dreams of becoming a business owner. Singapore makes it easy too – anyone can set up a company with just fifty bucks and wifi. There are government grants given to help start-ups start up. There are grants for those grants, and there are companies set up to help other companies get set up. The next kind of “Company” can mean the company you keep, i.e. your Network. How many times have we heard “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” – still applies!
4. C for CADDY
Replace Caddy with “Chauffeur” or “Courier”, “Cleaner” or “Care-taker”, and this fourth C in our 2.0 series would still work. “Caddy” is just semantics, really, to indicate a few things: First, a top-heavy Singapore made up of highly educated middle to upper management types, who are almost allergic to blue-collar jobs. Secondly, a vibrant economy built on the backs of a large number of foreign talents. Thirdly, a desire, and an expectation to be on the receiving end of (good) service. I always say “a good leader delegates”. It started out as a joke, and it evolved into habit and has now crystallized into a piece of embarrassing truth that totally refutes the saying “a good leader leads by example”. If you’re looking for a consumer business idea, anything that makes the average Singaporean feel like they’re being put on a pedestal would be a “win”. Shoe-Shining, Limousine, Plumbing, Pest-Control, Delivery, Personal Shopper, House-Call Services… but finding the right service providers might be your “lost”. Anyway, you get the drift. I just want to end this paragraph by saying I have been on the giving end of service and would like to warn anyone who bothers to listen, that you’ll see that this list are things money cannot really buy. Money can get you a Caddy, but it is you who ultimately gets you respect.
5. C for CHARISMA
This final C should really be an article on its own.
I cannot define Charisma. Even the French define it as “je ne sais quoi” which literally means “I-don’t-know-what”. The closest I can bring it to context for this article is to say it is the look of life after success, the behaviour of financial freedom, and the expression of a better or just simply, a cooler state of being. So if you’ve got the Cash, Car, Credit Card, Condominium and Country Club, and Children, Cause, Caddy, Company, then stay tuned for how to have Charisma.