Driving force: 3 best ways for Gulf marketers to target Saudi women

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King Salman’s recent decree allowing women to drive in Saudi has taken social media and business corridors by storm. But it’s not just automobile brands that are excited: the lifting of the ban could open new opportunities for many other sectors, such as banks and insurance companies, say analysts.

On September 27, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud revoked the Kingdom’s ban on women drivers, saying women in the country will be allowed to drive by June 2018.

This move opens up a whole new segment of customers – something that becomes all the more significant when one considers that women make up 43 per cent of the Saudi population. And, according to figures by Euromonitor, more than 67 per cent of them are aged between 15 to 64 years.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia ranks the highest in terms of consumer expenditure on automobiles in the Middle East, with an estimated expenditure of $19.8 billion in 2016. Also, it ranks second only to Bahrain in terms of expenditure on automobiles per household.

So, while marketers in the region are excited by the opportunities unlocked by this landmark move, what’s the best way for them to market to this new customer segment?

GMR lists three best strategies regional marketers can adopt to package their marketing strategy for Saudi customers, especially women:

(1) Understand women customers better

One of the first strategies marketers need to adopt is to better understand women customers. Only then can they adopt a targeted marketing approach.

“The ending of the ban on women driving in the Kingdom is a major change in Saudi society. If marketers want to leverage this moment, they must firstly engage with and understand how this affects Saudi women (and society at large) and create campaigns that are based on insights from these people,” Alex Malouf, Chair, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, the International Association of Business Communicators, tells GMR.

“Let’s not assume that we understand how Saudi women feel about these changes. Instead, let’s ask them,” he quips.

(2) Have a targeted approach

Considering a balanced marketing strategy, marketers in the region have an important role to play when it comes to taking the change forward, say analysts.

The next step, therefore, is adopting the right marketing approach targeted towards women customers, they say.

“Developing tailored customer service experiences, such as dealership facilities, women-only showrooms and building confidence among women to deal with roadside bullying, can also be part of the marketing strategies,” says Rabia Yasmeen, analyst, Euomonitor.

(3) Engage digitally

Last but not least, engaging Saudi women customers digitally is one of the most important steps marketers should adopt, say analysts.

“Automobile manufacturers and banks are expected to channel more focused marketing strategies in developing customer relationships with the developing market segment, through greater engagement on digital and social media platforms, as women in the Kingdom are highly engaged on these platforms,” says Yasmeen of Euomonitor.

– By Sunil Kumar Singh