MENA in Focus

Altering Perceptions – During a State of Increased Market Volatility

It seems quite inevitable to not be right out there, addressing your potential customers while the world battles one of history’s major life-changer events. Marketing strategies have taken a huge turn around with platforms concentrating on the digital space; Indeed it is true that business and communication will be different not only in the short term but well into the foreseeable future.

2020 was a nightmare. The pandemic had caused irreparable damage. Something that we wished never happened. Governments, economies, healthcare systems, businesses, and families were challenged at all levels; and the marketing industry was no exception. As we saw people dying, we also did see businesses crumbling and brands going down to rock bottom. The luxury market out of the many, suffered its hardest hit while the others were just finding better ways to survive.

One year later and the world is still coming to grips with Covid’s recurring waves. As the uncertainty continues, businesses are preparing to adapt to a risk mitigation model of the functioning and communicating effectively with stakeholders. Dramatic shifts in global patterns and consumer behavior have been constantly pushing brands to think differently in terms of their customer impact and influence strategy.

As we look at the way businesses, brands and products have made a come-back after the pandemic, it’s important to also understand how ‘markets’ embraced marketing in support of their strategic intent.

The Middle East, especially the UAE was one of the early birds when it came to market revival. The economy opened up quite rapidly for both local and international businesses to thrive. The end of 2020 saw a surge of new entrants in the market thereby increasing the amount of foreign investment in the country by nearly 20%. The local market had also seen a 30% rise in Start-Ups within the country. While the market was fairly opportunistic to many, it was the positioning and the perceptions built about the country that mattered.

The country marketed itself as the alternate to most developed economies which drove global companies to expand in the UAE. Small-time companies were also seen exploring business opportunities in the market. Amidst all of this, the upcoming Expo 2021 global investment initiative by the UAE government has been a major highlight of the country’s marketing campaign. Unlike most tourist countries, the UAE had seen a tremendous rise in the number of tourist entries into the country in the last 6 months – one of the largest inflow of tourists into a country amidst a pandemic. The government had indeed strategized carefully and implemented highest levels of safety standards to support the initiative. However, it all boiled down to marketing it right. The power of positioning is most often neglected. But it’s the most crucial aspect of influence.

Many brands have risen in popularity, only because of their approach to communicating effectively especially during times of increased market volatility. That said, companies have also had to embrace innovative ways to engage with their customers and instill a feeling of security through their marketing communication. The uncertainty that was spreading had to be addressed and brands that failed to engage empathetically faced the brunt of the global decline while the others survive and thrive.

One of the biggest facets of present-day marketing is the consolidation of digital platforms. The fact that we live in an information age urges us to be data-driven and this could only be possible in a world of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The digital landscape has taken the world by storm through its functionality, accessibility, and analytics. There is a worldwide demand for service continuity based on a data-driven model across industries, and marketing is no exception. The power of adapting data and analytics in marketing has contributed to a global surge in organizations embracing digital transformation. That said, Organizations are today forced to re-engineer their marketing strategy to adapt to the shifting trade and consumer patterns amidst the most challenging circumstances. Leadership in a digitally-driven world is the future of marketing. Brands that realize the importance of building perceptions online will certainly benefit from this ever-changing landscape.

While the Covid-19 pandemic may not be over yet, there is gradual stability with businesses trying to explore newer ways to engage with their customers. Some of the major economies have started resuming business activity and the marketing and communications industry similar to the rest of the world finds itself amid a digitally-driven transformation. The power of information-driven marketing is on the constant rise and its importance for businesses and brands to capitalize on the opportunities that come with this change will only continue to grow.

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