We are always market-testing
Success today does not mean you will remain so tomorrow
I am sure you have read that Singapore's Pinacotheque de Paris has closed down. (Read about the news here). They have cited poor visitorship and other business challenges. If you are like me, the average Singaporean, you might probably be going, "Pinaco-what? Is that some kind of drink?" You wouldn't be penalised if you didn't know what Pinacotheque was. Chances are, many Singaporeans also don't.
Pinacotheque Singapore is an arts museum located at Fort Canning. It has internationally acclaimed paintings by Renoir, Monet, and Modigliani. These are consigned by private collectors, so one might not usually be able to view such masterpieces. The museum also had a local history section to cater to the region. The idea was first conceived in 2013 by the Singapore Tourism Board, and opened in June 2015 to the tune of US$24 million. Unfortunately,
not more than 11 months later, the museum has closed and the US$24 million down the drain. This project cannot be seen in connection with the main Pinacotheque de Paris, which also closed down this year in February.
Pinacotheque de Paris
What went wrong?
Without fully knowing the ins and outs of the operations, we take a stab at what what went wrong, conjecturing from what we can see from the outside, hoping, like all growth mindset leaders, to learn something from this.
(1) If we build it, they will come
This is a very typical mentality of business owners. Putting down US$24 million in prime district and negotiating to bring in big-named exhibits will get undone if it goes unnoticed. Just because you have built it, it does not mean that people will come. A huge amount of publicity, marketing, and attraction sales is required to pull in the crowd. And the beginning pull is very important. If there is no critical mass to bring in more visitors, any business will quickly face demise.
(2) An international brand doesn't guarantee success
Singapore has a brand fetish. Not that it is bad, because brands do come with a certain promise, a certain standard. But just because something comes out of a renowned city like Paris does not mean it will be a hit here as well. The concept may work in that city, but transplanting it here may be a bigger ask. We have already seen that Singapore is taking on its own culture, its own modus operandi, and to simply plonk down an international brand with all its operating norms into Singapore might not work.
(3) Was there sufficient due diligence?