14 marketing predictions to look out for in 2018

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It was a turbulent 2017 for the Arabian Gulf, with a tough start giving way to economic and geopolitical volatility as the year progressed.

Some of the most pressing challenges included the immediate need to de-escalate regional tensions in the Middle East, especially between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and shoring up the crude oil prices that have historically had a high sentimental value to most of the economies in the region. It also looks likely that these woes will continue into 2018.


MUST SEE: 3 biggest challenges for marketers in 2018


A recent report by Kantar Millward Brown predicts: “2018 is poised to be another busy year for marketers, complete with continued evolutions in communication approaches, media targeting technology and ROI measurement.”

Following a year where many brands questioned and rethought digital investment, 2018 will see more focus on an integrated view of the overall mix, including digital, it adds. At the same time, measurement and optimisation approaches will be modified so that ROI becomes more of a journey and less of a destination.

But here is the conundrum: The UAE and Saudi Arabia have rolled out VAT, which is not only an unprecedented taxation system for this part of the world, but also brings with it a flurry of new processes, mechanisms and accounting procedures.

How can marketers, already under pressure to maximise their campaign budgets, reconcile with the procedural challenges the new taxation system brings in? Not to forget the dwindling ad spends by many businesses, one of the sharpest cuts in many years, which has accentuated the need to streamline marketing strategies.

To learn more about what to expect in the coming year, GMR asked marketers and senior officials from different sectors questions such as: what do they expect from 2018 and how will the shadows of 2017 impact the marketing landscape this year?

What are the major opportunities and challenges they look forward to in 2018? And, finally, do they agree that marketers this year will be constantly exposed to new changes and trends as they had last year?

While some of the respondents sounded sceptical about VAT, others declared outright that the introduction of the tax will eat into their marketing budgets.

However, one common denominator in their responses was that marketers need to be more proactive and re-evaluate where they are dedicating resources.

Read on, in alphabetical order,  to find out more about what they had to say.


ALSO READ: five key marketing challenges in 2018 


#1 “The challenge will be how much clients are willing to spend”

Abed Bibi, former CMO, Meraas, and co-founder, yougotagift.com

I agree there have been many challenges marketers had to face last year. Much of this challenge was related to planning a holistic customer-retention strategy for a brand or to re-position a company.

Marketers had to confront the truth that the effectiveness of a campaign is more than the creative or the advertising part, and there’s a bigger front to explore, i.e. social media and digital media which is the biggest slice of the cake.

In 2018, we will face a lot of new challenges and as many changes in 2018. This will necessitate marketing to change, both in terms of strategy and execution, which will affect the businesses as a whole.

One of the most noticeable trends of 2017 was that more and more consumers are moving from conventional to digital media. I think the trend will continue in 2018 as brands are finding it easier to reach out to their target consumer faster than before.

In line with consumer preferences, the conventional ad budgets too are making a shift towards digital, making it the primary focus of any marketing plan.

Not many of my expectations came true actually, and I’m sure this to have been the case with many of my peers.

My expectation was that the second half of the year could pick up that would encourage positive sentiment among marketers and businesses. However, that was not the way the second half came to be. On the contrary, there was an increasing realization among marketers about the arduousness of achieving the set marketing goals.

Hopefully, 2018 should turn out to be better as I’ve scaled down expectations, which means better results. Instead of high hopes, as was the case in 2017, I’m having moderate expectations this year.

The challenge [in 2018] is how much clients are willing to spend on campaigns. Another challenge is for people to keep their jobs safe in this uncertain environment. The last, but definitely not the least, is the VAT and how it will impact clients.

(Abed spoke to GMR at the Hanson Search Breakfast Panel Event held recently in Dubai.)

#2 “Analysing and using data effectively will be critical”

Amanda Banham Menzies, Head of Marketing & Communications, Healthpoint, part of the Mubadala Healthcare network

Influencer marketing has been a big trend in 2017, and will continue to impact marketeers in 2018, but I think consumers are becoming a little wary as some influencer relationships are clearly very commercial.

It’s a fine line that companies need to walk – ensuring they use influencers with impact that are also credible and resonate with their brand. I think, into 2018, we will see the rise of micro-influencers: less ‘pay per play’ and more focus on brand affinity and content partnerships.

It is critical for brands to get personal with mobile marketing, especially across social channels. Snapchat and Instagram’s Instastories both provide high impact in this region, where we have a young and connected demographic.

As we focus more on the personal and driving engagement with individual consumers, in the healthcare sector patient stories will continue to be a critical to that dialogue, and we must be clever and clear with all written content that lives online. Written communication can’t be fluffy – it has to be concise and relevant.

The greatest opportunity for any marketer working in the region is that we have so many more channels for engagement with our target audience than we have had previously.

Using those channels effectively and making sure we are trusted – no matter how or where we advertise or promote and place our products and services – is what provides the biggest challenge.

Today’s consumer is very savvy and aware. We can’t patronise people, or expect them to take our marketing messages at face value – they can and will do their own research.

We have more data than ever before, but it is critical that we analyse and use that data effectively and relook at how we provide clear ROI to justify marketing budgets and spend.

There is a clear need for industry agreement on measurement – we all seem to use so many different metrics and methods, and I feel we don’t always have a valuable form of measuring success across platforms.

#3 “Businesses run the risk of increasing irrelevancy in the eyes of customers

Devasish Auddy, Head of Marketing (Middle East, North Africa & Turkey), HMD Global

Brands are eager to grab the attention of the ever-elusive millennials and, in the non-liner consumer journey of today, marketers need to create a connected experience for them, no matter where they are within the Unified Commerce.

In the Middle East, digital transformation has evolved from being just a trend to a crucial component of business strategy. Businesses that do not place digital firmly at the center of their growth strategy run the risk of increasing irrelevancy in the eyes of customers and the market.

As the world is now more connected than ever, Digital is the epicenter of where the connected consumer experience takes place.

Marketers need to engage with consumers at relevant timings for them and with great personalized content throughout the entire consumer journey. The Always-On Connected consumer experience will be the major way forward in the coming year.

Furthermore, social media analytics are going beyond just simple measurement of clicks or shares. In addition to having relevant quality content, we need to focus further on the overall consumer path and its multiple touchpoints.

Multichannel marketing has become a norm. The number of touchpoints where we can reach our consumers has continued to grow at an astonishing speed over recent years.

We, as marketers, have often enthusiastically run after these different opportunities to engage with our customers. Yes, we all know what this causes – unconnected consumer experience.

The major opportunity we look forward to in 2018 is to bring quality, useful and reliable phones to all consumers irrespective of budget or geography. We are committed to investing in the right innovations that enhance everyday use, and that translates into our marketing strategy as well.

Providing the best connected customer experience at any and every touch point must be the goal of all brands in the upcoming year as this will ensure customer engagement with the brand.

In addition, the experience must be consistent, appropriate, and positive in order to leave a lasting impression on the consumer.

Data and analytics are necessary tools for success in this respect – it is imperative to know where customers are coming from, be it through social media, blogs, or other online websites, and streamlining the interaction in those high traffic areas while enhancing the experience regardless of where they are on the purchase journey.


READ MORE: How marketers in the GCC can get ready for the VAT changes?


#4 “Mobile-first content is only going to increase

Ian Manning, Regional Head of Agencies at Facebook Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan, Facebook

Marketers now have to review, question and deliver new ways of marketing, consistently measuring ROI.

With the augmented need to employ targeted marketing solutions to achieve business objectives, brands are working with partners who deliver faster, scalable solutions underpinned by technology.

Mobile has proliferated to the point where it is an extension of people’s lives today, with a plethora of content, ideas and brands waiting to be discovered with ease and speed. This unlocks scalable opportunities for marketers, which through strategic and creative execution, can create impactful engagement with audiences.

This has led to the emergence of content and technology in the region, brought to life on applications and in feed, and accelerated by the likes of Instagram stories.

We’re seeing clients and agencies catching up with the trend and increasingly delivering mobile first creative, and we only expect this to continue upward in 2018.

We look forward to seeing many of 2017’s strong trends reach new heights in 2018. Mobile-first content is only going to increase in quantity and quality, with heightened incorporation of more immersive formats such as, 360-degree videos, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

A massive opportunity this year is the adoption of specialist tech solutions to scale, with marketers and agencies have the chance to move beyond their own capabilities, and tap into an array of global talent when needed.

Something we are working towards is the ‘democratization’ of opportunity for companies across the region. SMEs increasingly have similar access to knowledge, tech and customers as large companies, which will put considerable pressure on traditional approaches of working, and driving a transformation to compete in this ever-evolving region.

MENA marketing professionals will also need to embrace video content like never before. Traditional customer marketing vehicles are becoming less effective, paving the way for personalized, digital alternatives.

The availability of larger screen mobile devices also creates a more immersive and compelling canvas for visual content.

We’re seeing video gain massive engagement with real-time audiences, not just with small-length videos and ads, but also with formats such as television.

We’re also expecting to witness more live video content broadcasts on our news feeds across the region in 2018.

However, with budgets becoming more accountable, there is an increased need for marketers to actively look to link their marketing investments to customer value and store visits, both online and offline.

#5 “There will be a continued concentration on Brand Safety”

Jonathan Adashek, Vice President Global Communications and Chief Communications Officer, Nissan Motor Corporation, Ltd

Digital transformation of marketing systems has become essential, with a ‘digitize or die’ attitude taking hold. Historically, selling a car online has been considered unrealistic.

This logic is being re-evaluated, and global trends are now moving towards creating a complete virtual experience for car buyers.

Digital technologies allow consumers to learn everything about the models and options, select the car, spec it and pay for it online. They might only head to the showroom for a final test drive or pick up their new vehicle.

An exciting example of this is augmented and virtual reality platforms, which allow automakers to bring the showroom to the consumer.

With live virtual showroom technology, brands will be able to bring real cars right into consumers’ living rooms – right down to specific details and interior designs. Even virtual test drives of a customer’s favourite model will become commonplace.

Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly prominent role in automotive marketing, and will continue to do so in 2018.

AI is being deployed in new areas, including optimizing media spends, content creation, lead scoring and personalising website experiences for each consumer.

The technological applications for the auto industry are still in their infancy, but the potential is limitless.

Behind these developments will be a continued concentration on Brand Safety.

All global players will be employing stringent measures to ensure their communications are only conveyed in a safe environment and a relevant context.

Electric and autonomous vehicles are breaking the mould of how cars look, feel and perform. With a total of two million electric cars on the roads, we expect EV sales to continue growing throughout 2018.

We also anticipate stronger integration and development of automation trends that are aimed at tackling key global challenges, such as protecting the environment and road safety.

Government incentives remain important. Here in the UAE, current initiatives from DEWA and RTA are boosting EV ownership, with a goal of 42,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2030.

For transportation and automotive companies, long-term success will be based upon flexibility and responsiveness in the face of these evolving trends.

Longevity will require a vision and agenda that constantly prioritizes innovative solutions to meet the challenges of energy supplies, growing urban population centres and the emergence of autonomous vehicles. Eventually, cars of the future need to provide more than just mobility.

#6 “2018 will be a really positive year in terms of travel trends

Matthew Powell, Managing Director, Middle East and South Asia, Travelport

In most of the markets we work in, last year exceeded our expectations in many ways. In the Middle East too, it proved to be a positive year for us, though the growth rate moderated a bit compared to the previous year.

From a business standpoint, 2018 presents us a real opportunity, especially in two key markets, namely India and Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, we are going to see more and more inbound as well as outbound travellers.

So for us the Middle East is a very exciting place to be in at this time, and we expect to continue to see significant growth in this region compared to the rest of the world.

The travel industry has always been a resilient sector but it is also the one that gets hit first. We therefore see 2018 to be a really positive year in terms of travel trends. We have taken a number of initiatives around structuring our set-up and how we focus on our customers.

I think VAT in the region is going to be a significant step in bringing more economic stability by making the economies more diversified and opening a new revenue stream.

Having said that the chances of it having a wide-ranging negative impact are far-fetched. The economies of this region are quite capable of handling the VAT, though many companies are yet to get accustomed to the processes and mechanisms of how to get VAT-ready.

On our part, we’ve been spending a lot of time with our customers assisting them in getting VAT-ready and making them familiar with the VAT payment mechanisms work.

Overall, given the global nature of VAT as a taxation system, I don’t think companies in the region will be having much of a problem for too long to understand how VAT works, and will make it as a part of their business strategy.


SEE: Are brands in the Middle East ready for the challenges that IOT entails?


#7 “Building engaging content will not be adequate”

Mukesh Dua, Country Marketing & Communications Lead, Accenture UAE

Advanced technology is enabling marketers to get closer to consumers, creating the possibility of building and targeting the right audience. AI, VR and AR and of course, social media, are now centre stage in martech.

These technologies, especially VR—which I consider the hottest technology for marketers in 2017 and beyond—will help marketing design the hyper-personalized experiences audiences now expect. In the last two years, customer segmentation and targeting based on analytics helped marketing define consumption patterns and audiences for personalized content.

Now it is possible to capture attention at various points along the consumer journey with content that is real time and instant. Connecting to audience across multiple channels in at the right time is important and can be done with the right technology.

The increasing use of VR and the focus on instantaneous connection through influencers on Instagram and other messaging platforms gained momentum in 2017. But as the accelerated pace of technology change blurs industry boundaries and causes disruption, it is challenging to forecast how marketing will develop next year.

Technology is evolving so fast and so are consumer preferences. However, it would be safe to say that AI, chatbots, micro-influencers, and live videos will likely continue grow in 2018 alongside a rise in ‘growth hacking’, also known as growth driven tactics.

In the Middle East, the growing use of mobile text messaging apps is the reflection of the growing demand for real-time connect. Businesses need to be part of these interactions without being salesy. Marketing should be part of people’s daily lives.

This means that amongst all this technology change, it would be important for marketers to build content meant for a narrower audience segment through specific channels rather than creating generic content for multiple channels.

Account-based marketing will be made powerful by new technology. Success in the digital world requires more than applying new technology to old products, processes and experiences.

It is about creating new experiences. However, marketers will increasingly face the challenge of getting ROI on marketing spend. Just focusing on building engaging content and on the number of clicks and shares will not be adequate.

#8 “The first six months could be challenging for businesses”

Nadeem Khanzadah, Head – OmniChannel Retail, Jumbo Group

The UAE continues to be an important market for consumer electronics in the Middle East and North Africa due to its strategic position as a regional hub and re-exporter of devices. In addition, the country has always been a launchpad for key product announcements from major brands.

Among the key trends that we have seen influencing consumer spending in the sector are the increased focus on smart technologies and devices across different demographics including the rise in online and mobile services. These trends have contributed in the demand for smartphones and tablets.

There has also been a considerable shift in online purchases for consumer electronics and home appliances, which are the most popular products sold on e-commerce platforms.

A growing number of consumers are turning to online retail websites to research prices and descriptions including product reviews by popular gadget blogs before buying products in store.

2018 should be an improvement over 2017 as the region looks to build on where it left off in the previous year.

There has also been significant focus on technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), due to increasing consumer demand for new sensory experiences.

Innovation and immersive experiences are at the forefront of consumer technology, and are some of the biggest factors impacting the latest trends.

The future also belongs to the versatile and the flexible, and cloud technology is demonstrating how relevant it is for customers, as witnessed at the Gitex Shopper Autumn edition.

One overarching trend in the consumer electronics industry is the soaring consumer demand for smartphones with more powerful cameras and seamless performance.

Many organisations, Jumbo included, are approaching VAT as an important business transformation project that will positively impact the industry and economy in the long term.

We expect that the first six months could be challenging for businesses but over a period of time, we expect it to stabilise as both consumers and operators become familiar with VAT.

We are not expecting any major negative impact on our sales from VAT, as consumers who want to make purchases will continue to buy, with or without VAT. It is important to note that the proposed five per cent rate will be among the lowest standard rate in the world.

#9 “The World Wide Web might be redundant”

Niranjan Gidwani, Chief Executive Officer, Eros Group

The digital medium has been growing year on year for quite some time but I feel that it is only in 2017 that we can say that it became more commonplace in the UAE.

Multinational brands to local brands, fast food chains to your local restaurant and even your maid service and laundry service jumped on the digital bandwagon not only to market their services but also reach consumers through the development and promotion of apps. For a consumer to reach out or access any service digitally is now truly possible.

App development and its marketing was really the strongest trend last year. Everything is now being pushed on an app. Some entrepreneurs are going ‘siteless’ and are only pushing apps.

It is very indicative of where the future of marketing and communication is headed. The World Wide Web as we know might in the near future be redundant.

Influencer and blogger marketing is where I was hoping the brands would move, and this has largely been the case.

Press, which was one of the earliest embracers of the digital space with websites, has not evolved fast enough creating a vacuum which sites / apps like Lovin’Dubai and Insydo have filled for local news and events in a much more contemporary style.

Press will face one of its toughest years in the UAE as the digital medium becomes all-encompassing going beyond just social media marketing.

The proliferation of e-commerce sites for not just shopping but also services will fuel this growth. The introduction of VAT will also eat into marketing budgets resulting in an overview of channels and spends.

#10 “Brands will need to provide a personal approach”

Ozge Ugurluel, Marketing and PR Manager, Volvo Cars MENA & CIS

I believe all the changes can be summarized in one that triggered everything else; and that is the way we consume! Consumption has changed from the act of ownership into choosing experiences that are bound to enhance quality of life and time.

We are no longer looking for quantity, instead authenticity and quality to improve how we live our lives and our wellbeing.

It goes without saying that digital media and technological devices intensified this as consumers started expressing themselves and showcasing their worth with the products they use, who they surround themselves with and how they embrace the environment around them.

As consumers started moving beyond ownership and towards discovering new things, places and experiences, experiential marketing was the hottest topic. Innovation is the crucial part of it, so brands need to involve their consumers technologically, environmentally and socially.

Brands that do not provide truly personalized experiences and demonstrate a deep understanding of their customers will not stand out even if they were premium or high end.

I expect the same approach to continue in 2018; brands will need to provide a personal approach while remaining authentic.

One of the major expectations that we had as a group was that the consumers were becoming much more demanding, knowledgeable and exposed. So, we took this opportunity to renew the entire product portfolio and relaunch our brand.

Volvo Cars was reborn and we showed the consumer what is possible in terms of stunning look, advanced technology, high-end materials, driver control interface and connectivity. We will continue to do that in 2018.

We’re noticing that old-school trends from heritage, extremely high quality and easily recognizable status symbols are over.

There is now a new generation of brands that have built a premium position almost entirely on technology, interaction and engagement with the consumer. This will keep growing in 2018 onwards and we need to act accordingly and put innovation at the core of our business.

#11 “Utilising both offline and online platforms will be a challenge”

Rob Gorton, Chief Commercial Officer, MallfortheWorld.com

In 2017, the region saw an increasing momentum in the growth of its e-commerce sector assisted by marketers embracing existing and new advertising mediums. Traditional marketing such as radio remains extremely important to reach large sectors of the population.

Increasingly social media such as Facebook is enabling marketers to target specific demographics and interests and we are also seeing the increasing importance of Instagram.

Instagram is becoming ever more popular and is providing a powerful platform for brands to reach target audiences in a more indirect yet still influential form, where users can chose to pull information they are seeking, rather than traditional means where advertising messages are pushed to the target audience.

With a focus on the e-commerce retail shopping sector in which MallfortheWorld.com operates with its app and website providing access to shop on 150+ US retailers, we anticipated that in 2017 the sector would gain increasing momentum and alongside that we would see a greater volume of related marketing. These expectations were to a large extent met.

As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish, the challenges in 2018 will be to utilize both the offline and online medium platforms available, to most effectively reach and influence target audiences.

One such opportunity to reach a specific demographic is that of the increasing online social influencers, who are often localized to a region, although many have growing international followings.

#12 “Focusing on measuring and maximizing ROI will be the key”

Sara Al Sayegh, Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications, Dubai Media Incorporated

Marketing is constantly evolving due to the changes in the media landscape, which prompts all marketers to adapt and go beyond the typical to find innovative and creative ways of engaging with consumers.

Changes in the digital space, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, advancements in social media tools, and consumer habits and demands, are all factors that are impacting the way we do business year on year.

Partnership marketing was one of the most trending topics in 2017, which played a significant role in leveraging our campaigns by generating consumer engagement and activations ideas.

From a broadcast perspective, we have seen content ownership grow in 2017 and increased customization of content to fit the regional consumer. This is naturally due to consumer demands, especially millennials, and the need for original content that caters to them.

One of the fastest-growing marketing phenomena has been the upsurge of influencer marketing. However, the industry is becoming savvier about partnering with social media influencers and strategies are formed to ensure quality content, transparency and measurable results for brands.

Experiential marketing is also trending and is no longer an option for a brand to stay relevant in today’s world.

We expected 2017 to be the year of change and it lived up to this expectation. Only with regular change, can we continue to evolve to keep up with the dynamics of the market. With solid plans, a positive outlook and the right talents, we were able to adapt to these changes and execute successful projects.

For example, our research showed that there is a need to create content that caters to millennials, therefore, this year we relaunched Dubai TV to focus on programmes that cater to Millennials. From entertainment, to news segments, and programmes, we transformed our content to fit the market changes.

A major task for marketing professionals across the region in 2018 will be focusing on measuring and maximizing ROI. The challenge lies in identifying and implementing more integrated measurement techniques, rather than measuring ideas and mediums separately.

Marketers are keen on seeing 360° assessments of any activity with real figures on performances and returns from partners, which will enable them to identify areas of improvements.

Moreover, Augmented Reality (AR) represents a great opportunity for marketers and one that we will look to tap into more aggressively in 2018.


ALSO SEE: The challenges of implementing data analytics in MENA



#13 “AR and VR will move beyond gaming”

Selda Payat, Consumer Marketing Manager for MEA, Lenovo

2017 was a competitive year indeed, on multiple fronts. For example, we have been trying to find creative ways to work in a challenging industry that experienced a decline over the past period, as well as local challenges.

The key focus was on improving proficiency to maximize return on investment, and this with limited budgets. It is of upmost importance to be quick and adapt to the situation.

I list the hottest marketing trends below, and I expect these to grow with more complexity in 2018:

– Multi-channel communication and experiences becoming a norm in digital marketing

– AR and VR moving beyond gaming – hence new opportunities for marketers to explore

– With the latest changes in Facebook and Instagram making organic followers and reach redundant a complete new analytics dashboard will be required for planning metrics and KPI tracking

– Rise of micro-influencers – we expect this trend to continue next year as well

– More and more live content will be seen from brands as consumers wants to access everything here and now. Hence cutting through the clutter and getting end-user`s uninterrupted attention will be the biggest challenge of 2018

– Increased focus on customer experience – brands of today have no chance but to put customers first to ensure brands are embraced by the target audiences. We see this trend strongly continue for next year as well

Major expectations of 2017 were mostly about seeing how worldwide trends in marketing are taking place in our region, and how fast and efficient we could adapt to them. We have seen very strong responses from some brands in the region. I list a few examples below:

– With the boom of online Arabic speakers, we see more locally relevant campaigns working with local talents trying to attract positive responses from the target audiences as well as creating engagement.

– The increase of video content on social media. We see less static posts and more videos from almost all brands.

– Campaigns and sub-brands focusing towards Generation Z, even though millennials are still the biggest spenders and major focus, we see many activities and campaigns targeted towards Generation Z. Major brands are even creating sub-brands to better align their communication strategy and brand positioning.

– Personalization to be the key as today’s globalized consumers’ preference. Consumers appreciate a service that has a personal touch with tailor made messages or solutions, which make them feel special.

– Complicated buyer journeys getting further confused with a growing choice of products and channels.

We should continue to invest in training and development of new skills. This is required to keep up with all the changes since the region we work in, is known for being very dynamic.

#14 “Cloud-based marketing services will gain in popularity

Stephane Paraiso, Managing Director, Azur Digital

2017 saw a shift to a customer-centric and integrated approach to marketing. As touchpoints and audiences are increasingly fragmented, we observe a change in power play.

Ecommerce is increasingly being adopted as a marketing channel by retailers, with Click & Collect, search and dynamic merchandising boosting cross-channel traffic and conversion.

Personalisation has become an industry imperative as mass communication is dying. Brands are now focusing their effort on better targeting and more relevant communications based on customer data.

As data becomes more central to their engagement, we expect marketers to lessen the commercial pressure on customers.

This will translate into a progressive increase of cross-channel messages relevance and better timing, as brands adopt new data management and AI-based services. Cloud-based marketing services will also gain in popularity.

Franchisee operators will shift away from group loyalty strategies to customer centricity approaches enabling more integrated shopping experiences fueled by cross-brand customer knowledge.

This should translate into new digital services available in store and the emergence of multi-brand online portals.

The marketer role will evolve and gain in agility to cope with the speed of change. Organisations will restructure to embed content management, UX design, legal, IT and project management functions around the Marketing core team.

Content marketing will become central to the success of the shopping experience, from product sheets via tag scan in store through to landing and social pages.


READ: GCC luxury not immune from economic challenges


Marketers used to think in terms of off and online. They now have access to an abundance of specialised digital tools and need to arbitrate which new ones to consider and which traditional media to divest from.

In their quest to push the right message to the right customer at the right time and via the right channel, they should remain mindful of sensibly managing the commercial pressure.

Modern marketing should not only be about creativity and feeling. As the industry is shifting away from mass communications, CMO increasingly is also about analytics and ROI, from understanding media targeting impact to mastering the art of predictive marketing through Machine Learning algorithms.

Omnichannel excellence is no longer optional. Marketing departments can no more afford to operate in silo.

In order to create a seamless and rewarding experience across channels, close collaboration with technology, product, supply chain, stores and customer Service teams has now become essential.

Marketers will increase collaboration with regional influencers and content providers to fuel their search and acquisition strategies with relevant and quality content.