Do luxury brands lack understanding of the Gulf market?

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Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO, Paris Gallery Group of Companies, says in a market such as the Gulf, luxury brands have to be smarter when communicating with a diverse set of consumer segments


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How has the luxury consumer in the region changed over the years?

Luxury consumers in the region are part of many segments and sub-segments, and not just a monolithic segment.

This diverse set of consumers has different tastes, different opinions, requirements and expectations from different brands, and these expectations are different for different age groups.

Do you see any difference in terms of different brands’ marketing strategies when it comes to targeting different sets of consumers?

Almost every brand we do business with is trying to use digital platforms to communicate with consumers. But the degree of importance given to the digital approach varies, with some brands going digital on a bigger scale and more frequently than others.

One of the reasons for this is the nature of consumers where some are more comfortable with digital and others who prefer to touch and feel the product before making a decision.


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What is lacking in the digital marketing strategy of luxury brands?

There are contradictory reports coming in regarding this with some saying that social media strategies are not effective and others saying it is very effective. Having said that, due to the availability of more digital tools, brands are expanding their reach to more and more consumers.

Through digital marketing, whether it is social media or online advertisements or mobile apps, brands are finding it easier to reach the right target audience based on their campaign objectives.

Additionally, with the help of third-party audit reports, it is now possible to get accurate figures of which segment of consumers the campaign is reaching. Until last year, there weren’t accurate tools to determine this.


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How much has the luxury sales gone down across the board?

It is difficult to give a single flat figure for all perfume, beauty, fashion and watch brands because some are doing better than others. Nevertheless, sales have gone down by 15 per cent to 25 per cent in the last two years.

What should be the right communication strategy for a different set of consumers?

Brands have to be smarter when communicating with a diverse set of consumer segments, especially in a market such as the Gulf, which is a melting pot of different nationalities.

We have figured out that there are around 24 segments and sub-segments of consumers in this market, so brands would do well to customize their communication strategies as per the target consumers.

Take, for instance, the Diwali festival, which is a very important festival for Indians. Luxury brands set aside huge campaign budgets for Christmas and Eid, but very few of these brands wish Indians “Happy Diwali.”

This is happening because of their lack of understanding of the market and the need to establish an emotional connection with target consumers.

The interview is part of the cover story that appeared in the November 2017 issue of Gulf Marketing Review.