Why it’s a bad idea to give discount to new citizens for community event

By August 4, 2017Current

TL;DR – Maybe organising better events would be a better idea.

A Residents’ Committee (RC) in MacPherson constituency charged Singaporeans $3 and “new citizens” $1 for a community event. The event was meant to bring neighbours together, and it had wanted to encourage more newly naturalised citizens to attend. The RC thought that a lower ticket price will encourage more new citizens to come forward.

Flyer of community event by Macpherson RC

Even if the RC had good intentions, this practice was really just courting criticism.

It made “old citizens” unhappy

As expected and understandably so, many Singaporeans were upset upon seeing the event flyer. You know how Singaporeans are with our special deals. Special deals imply special priority. So some see this as the organisers treating the new citizens better than those born and bred in Singapores. Otherwise, why would “new citizens” get a preferential rate, right?

As such, it wouldn’t be surprising if “old citizens” of MacPherson were put off by this discriminatory practice and boycott the event. This would mean that the event would lose a good portion of “old” citizens, which make up the majority of the event’s target audience.

It probably won’t be (more) effective in attracting new citizens

Will a lower price really be effective in attracting new citizens? Unlikely. Given how affordable the tickets are already, the cost of the ticket probably isn’t a significant factor when a person considers whether or not to go for the event. If the event is not fun, attractive and relevant, people probably won’t go even if it’s free.

There must be a better way

Put all these together, this tiered pricing scheme is ill thought-out. It upsets “old citizens”, making them less likely to attend the event. At the same time, it’s not likely to attract a lot more “new” citizens to attend the event than if they were to charge everyone the same price. This means that this tiered pricing scheme will make it less likely for the event to achieve its objective of bringing “old” and “new” citizens together.

If the organisers really wanted to bring the community together, they really need to think harder about how to make the event relevant and attractive to both “old” and “new” citizens. Spend time in the planning and not just in the event marketing and sales efforts.

Like what MP Tin Pei Ling said, there’s a good lesson to be learnt here and we can all do better.

Let’s hope the organisers, and other organisers of all community events, learn from this.


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Author CRC

Working on a startup is a scary crazy process. To destress, I write random stuff.

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