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Posts Tagged ‘marketing strategies’

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For those not familiar with Saudi Arabia; It is unfortunate to say YES, Saudis are still debating the idea of allowing women to drive!

Anyway, this is not what this post is about, but I felt it was a mandatory introduction!

Now, let’s assume that the decision popped up and women are suddenly allowed to drive. From business and marketing points of view, what kind of change or new opportunities that could come up as a result of the new situation? Here are some points I thought of:

  • Automobiles Selling Tactics: Car dealers should really change, or at least introduce new selling tactics and marketing campaigns targeting women. Many researchers have argued that the way men and women approach the final purchasing decision is remarkably different. For that, ways to target segments divided based on gender should be different as well. And believe it or not, such studies have already started to take place in Saudi Arabia once the driving debate started to heat up few years ago, at least this is what a marketing manager in one of a prominent Saudi car dealer told me.
  • Car Accessories Shops: Women, at least of a younger age, will be definitely looking to have distinguished cars; exactly like their counterparts males. So I won’t be surprised to see car accessories shops opening whole sections specifically for ladies. Or even better, complete new accessories shops for ladies only, operated by ladies only!
  • Pimp-her-Ride: This could be related to the pervious point, but with those who have some extra cash to spoil themselves, and their cars!!
  • Segregated Car Service: Whether we are talking mechanic shops, car cleaning, oil change, etc, There is a huge opportunity to create women-only shops. If someone would argue here that allowing women to drive will ease the segregation between men and women we are currently seeing in the society, I would respond by saying yes but still. At least at the beginning, such women-only shops could flourish because it would give women a sense of freedom freedom they are enjoying in their closed communities. You know, taking off their Abbayas and enjoying chit-chat with friends in a closed area while their car is serviced. That will definitely be much better than waiting in line in most-of-the-time dirty oil change shops! So it could turn out to be a good idea after all! Even further, the existence of such shops could be a factor of helping some conservative families to make the decision of allowing their wives and daughters to drive. They will be dealing with women most of the time, right!

It does not matter how strange, funny, or shocking, these ideas might sound to some of you, because such a decision will definitely takes its toll on the society. New challenges, new obstacles, and new opportunities usually come out as results of change. Taking all that and blend it with the Saudi market status and the Saudi consumer behavior, I am sure interesting outcomes will be generated.

what do you think?

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I have a confession to make. and if, by any chance, Steve Jobs is reading this; I am sorry!

I have been a long time advocate of Microsoft and I hated the gut of Apple before even trying it!

My reasoning was simple, we would not know the world as we know it today without Microsoft Windows and Office, and that is partially true even after my confession. In other words, I was feeling gratitude toward Microsoft more than being happy with its system quality. I was not looking at its shortcomings, I was looking more to its role in my daily life.

Anyway, before this get very sentimental … this post is neither about Microsoft nor Apple. It is about our psychological attachments to certain brands.

There is something in marketing called ‘the switching cost;’ They are the costs a person, or even an organization, has to pay when deciding to choose another product, supplier, service, etc. The cost here should not be only thought of in terms of financial means. Beside money, there is time, efforts, and there is physiological costs as well. And to make things clearer, think of switching from a phone brand to another. You have to spend some time learning and getting familiar with the new brand.This is a switching cost right there and some people might not be willing to deal with.

Psychological switching cost or barrier, plain and simple, is anything a brand does in an attempt to relate to its customers. This will turn into feelings such as admiration, respect, love, …, etc in the customer minds. And eventually, customer will get attached to the brand because of these feelings. The touch of a product, the smell, the quality, or customer service, all these are examples of investments that can be made to create the required psychological switching barrier.

So the next time you are drafting your branding strategy, or planning an advertisement campaign, you better not only think about customers buying more of your products, but how customers will never think of switching to your competitor. Not only having more customer attention through the ads, but having more customers relating to your brand through these ads.

Now, If you look around, you might find something that you are psychologically attached to; maybe the perfume that makes you feel sexy and mysterious when wearing it, a clothing brand that adds elegance to your personality, what about the brand of your laptop, or the type of the car you are driving.

So, do you have any confession to make 🙂 … share it with the rest of us …

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From my iPhone

This question is directed to the producers of the light snacks known as “Loozeen”. To the marketers of Western Bakeries Co. the subsidiary of the Saudi giant company “Almarai.” Seriously guys, what were you thinking choosing this image for your campaign? What is the brand message that you were trying to deliver?

The campaign has been launched a couple of days ago and it is meant to raise the awareness of the fact that “Loozeen” has added more stuffing into its products. You know, more cheese, more chocolate etc. The execution of the idea, assuming that there is an idea to begin with!, is one of the poorest campaign that I have ever seen in the Saudi market. And these are the reasons:

  • There is no apparent relation between the campaign and the message they wanted to deliver. So you have more cheese in your snacks; how that is related to the homeless looking guy featured on your ads everywhere!!!
  • Even if we forced ourselves to accept whatever message they were trying to deliver, the picture is poorly taken and has no appealing, no personality, no innovation, and no artistic touch.
  • Now please explain this to me; this is a food related product, right? So why the picture is soooooooo disgusting? What kind of a mental association were they trying to leave on their customers’ minds? And how is that freaky looking homeless has been chosen to represent and carry a message of a food brand anyway?

What is really striking is that “Loozeen” has a quite good position in the market already. I can even go further and claim that they do not have a serious competitor in this particular category of the market. Moreover, their earliest campaign with the tagline of ‘have a snack … have Loozeen’ was so successful to the point that you would hear people say it whenever the idea of having a snack comes across their minds! That’s definitely a huge and extraordinary brand positioning success. So why ruining all that with this poorly executed campaign?

Finally, my ‘free spirit statement,’ although I have a brother-in-law working in Western Bakeries, he had not influenced this post in anyway possible, and I really hope that he will not get mad at me if he ever read this post 🙂

What do you think? And you could start by stating the first thing that came to your mind when you saw the ad picture?

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 Recently, I have been really overwhelmed with many blog posts, articles, and tweets that were only negatively looking at many, especially social, aspects of Saudi Arabia. I would give those writers the benefit of the doubt and say that they are in love with this country, and they want to see it the best country in the world; so out of love, they get really harsh on it sometimes.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Saudi+Arabia&iid=5131620″ src=”a/5/f/0/closeup_of_the_2a42.jpg?adImageId=9467495&imageId=5131620″ width=”234″ height=”327″ /]The fact of the matter that it seems much easier to spot shortcomings rather than qualities. I do not know, maybe it is human nature; we perceive advantages as normal and sometimes as basic rights while on the same time we tend to overreact to imperfections. I am saying these words and I am not trying, in any way, to pretend to be the most positive person in the world. I am just trying to be objective as much as I can 🙂

Let’s move to the post which you could’ve guessed by now that it will be about something positive; actually it is … but not totally!!

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), let’s face it; a lot of management practitioners do not totally grasp this concept. The truth is that it is a vague concept with a lot of ethical backgrounds and dilemmas. Saudi companies, as many others around the world, are suffering from this lack of understanding in addition to the fact that most of them are mixing between the concepts of social responsibility and charity.

Despite all that, two Saudi companies just provided an interesting example about how to be socially responsible companies; Saudi Aramco and Siemens Saudi Arabia. According to this article in Arab New, the two companies are initiating a very interesting program to improve Saudi youngsters’ enthusiasm for science. The program that has already been implemented in many countries around the world, by the Siemens international I believe, will be available for 400 students in the Eastern region of the country in the first phase or the pilot of the program. Those 400 students will receive what the program call ‘Discovery Boxes,’ different materials are available in these boxes for the students to conduct different experiments in different scientific disciplines. By any means, this is a really bright example of social responsibility.

However, there is only one remark that could make this program a bit less than perfect; will it be available to any school in the Eastern region and the whole Kingdom in later phases, or it will be exclusive to the schools where the children of Saudi Aramco staff are receiving their education!!

Finally, I have to mention my ‘free spirit’ statement; although I have many friends working in Aramco, and a brother in law working in Siemens, this post has not been influenced by them in any way …

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Companies that have any kind of live interaction with customers are better to train their employees not to complain about the company itself or customers in front of other customers!! What kind of a message they would be delivering when you hear the sales agent behind the counter complaining about another customer and accusing him of being stupid because all what the customer did was asking him about different products and then bought nothing! or when you hear a customer service agent complaining about his/her own company policies and procedures.

This is all part of the service experience the customer is having by being present on your premises or talking to your staff on the phone. The way your company’s staffs interact with customers should be part of your holistic brand design. It is all about the image you would like to leave on your customers’ minds, the message you would like to deliver to build a loyalty ground so customers will come back again and again!

And just to let you know, I witnessed the above given examples in both a restaurant and a pharmacy!!

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Pepsi+can&iid=394787″ src=”0391/1f4d821b-06eb-4eae-895a-fa9cea0e7e7d.jpg?adImageId=8318799&imageId=394787″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]It seems that the historical rivals, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, are getting along pretty well in Saudi Arabia. Just after few days of Pepsi increasing their prices by 50% (from 1 SAR to 1.5 SAR – from 0.3 $ to 0.4 $) Coca-Cola followed suit and increased its prices by the same percentage.

It does not a take a brain surgeon to conclude that they’ve agreed on the move beforehand. Although for some reasons, Pepsi decided to take the initiative.

The first consumers’ reactions were, expectedly, anger. Given that 50% price increase seems to be huge, let’s be honest, 1 riyal to 1.5 riyal does not make that big of difference on the average consumer anyway. The anger is just stemming out from the fact that the young generation heavily consuming these carbonated drinks has always been accustomed to this 1 riyal price; the price has been fixed for more than 30 years now!  In addition to that, consumers just felt that they’ve been back stabbed by the unannounced surprise! On the other hand, healthy food advocates found it a good opportunity to intensify their campaigns against the possible health effects caused by carbonated drinks and to promote and support a transition from soft drinks to natural juices and water.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Coca+Cola+can&iid=3148359″ src=”f/2/b/1/SEC_Launches_Investigation_8388.jpg?adImageId=8318811&imageId=3148359″ width=”234″ height=”149″ /]On the Pepsi and Coca-Cola side, there is nothing but a mess! It just gives you the impression that the move has not been thoroughly thought of or well planned. Reports are claiming a 30% hit on the daily sales. We can argue that people will eventually accept and live with the new prices, but still, Pepsi and Coca-Cola should deal with the consumers serious consideration of totally cutting off or at least reducnig their carbonated drinks consumption.

My own understanding is that Pepsi and Coca-Cola made the following big mistakes:

–          They did not prepare their customers to the change (I was about to write; they did not show respect to their customers.) They should’ve started a PR campaign informing their customers about the real reasons behind the expected increase in prices and announcing a specific date for new prices to be affective on. And not only customers, even their own distribution network. Their distributors looked more shocked than their customers. It is very obvious that Pepsi, in particular, has faced serious problems in its distribution channels just after the new price announcement. Pepsi cans just vanish from the shelves. I even saw one restaurant filling Coca-Cola cans in a Pepsi refrigerator.

–          Their comments after the sudden change were weak and their explanations were unconvincing. To be more specific, I did not like the use of direct comparison between the prices in Saudi and its neighbors as a basis for justifying the prices increase. Actually, nobody asked how our prices are compared to our neighbors! The question was simple; why did you increase the prices?

Anyway, I want to you to put yourself in the shoes of a Pepsi/Coca-Cola fan (if you are not a one already!) and answer this quick poll …

 

 

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It is time to talk about another local business success story; and how can we talk about successful organizations without talking about Al-Baik.

It is next to impossible that you are living in Jeddah or ever visited it without being to Al-Baik. The local fast food chain has been around since 1974. After 35 years by now, the restaurant is mainly operating in Jeddah with minimum number of branches in Makkah, Madinah, Yanbu and Taif. Arguably, Al-Baik possesses the highest market share and customer loyalty amongst its competitors especially in Jeddah; noting that when I say competitors, I mean international multibillion brands like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc …

Let’s shed some lights on Al-Baik main success recipes :

–          The Quality & Price: for those of you familiar with the debate surrounding Porter’s Generic strategies, Al-Baik is a living proof that you could follow a strategy that combines both differentiation and cost leadership. Although there are a lot of restaurants serving fried chicken, the quality and taste of Al-Baik are certainly unique and its prices are way below the average.

–          The Trustworthy Brand: Al-Baik has a very strong brand equity whether we are measuring it by evaluating the restaurants’ products or by studying its brand impact on customers. Al-Baik brand communicates strong messages of quality, fast service, trust, affordability, convenience, and social responsibility. Its management has been very smart emphasizing these values into the brand using different methods of advertisements, public relations, or even by spreading stories about the brand. The entrepreneurial story of its founder and how he struggled to raise his community awareness about eating outside the home which was strange back then and how he has been working alone in the restaurant preparing the food, serving it, and then cleaning the small shop are all meant to build some kind of connection with its customers. Also, some suspense and mystery would not hurt either; the secret chicken formula that is only known by few individuals is one of the most preferred stories amongst such food and beverages organizations (didn’t you hear similar stories about Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and KFC?)

–           Superb Customer Service: whether we are talking about fast service, servicescape design, or cleanness of the restaurants environment; Al-Baik is providing exemplary services in all of that. Even more, Al-Baik is one of the few restaurants that introduced items to the menu based solely on customers’ suggestions.

–          Convenient Locations: Al-Baik marketers are masters in choosing locations for their restaurants; I have never seen a branch of Al-Baik without it being packed with customers. The huge expansions they carried out in Jeddah have been built on population distribution analysis. That is why wherever you live in Jeddah now; there must be Al-Baik branch within your easy reach.

–          Social Responsibility: Al-Baik has always been known for its socially related campaigns. They have a regular presence in Hajj seasons providing free meals to pilgrims and they are periodically campaigning for environmentally related causes like banning smoking in their restaurants or preserving the city clean image. Furthermore, their active participation in the aftermath of Jeddah floods by providing free meals to those devastated by the catastrophe is one shiny example of how organizations could be interacting with its society.

Nevertheless, staying on the top is not an easy job. Al-Baik management has to deal with many issues to facilitate its growth. One of these important issues is on the mind of every fan who happen to live outside Jeddah; how much should they expand? Should they consider opening new branches in other cities at the Kingdom? What about being multinational or even global?

Moreover, how Al-Baik should respond to the growing concerns raised by healthy and organic foods advocates (it is selling fried chicken, right!!)? And most importantly, how its managers are going to maintain its competitive advantages and how are they going to nurture its sustainability strategy?

Finally, the free spirit statement; this is to confirm that I do not know, or have any relation with anyone working at Al-Baik management or restaurants, and this post has not been influenced by Al-Baik or any of its partners in any way …

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