Even with intermittent unrest, the Gulf has always been a haven for small businesses and investments. But with the influx of investments came many fast-paced changes in the market, and stiff competitions. This became the real challenges for businesses in the Gulf.
The region is a potpourri of ethnic, religious, cultural and geographical diversities. So before venturing into marketing a product in the Gulf, it is imperative to identify the country or countries where the marketing is to be done.
The Gulf or the Middle East is a region comprising many countries. Each country has its own traditions and cultures. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of the market we decide to enter. This will, in turn, help in understanding our customer better, and also in taking the marketing efforts in the right direction. The best way to do it is to test the products in the most conducive market in the region, and once found successful, think of going regional.
Mass media and internet have huge impacts on the consumer behavior there. The Middle East follows a set of values and traditions, which should be respected. For those with a biased opinion that the Gulf countries are too conservative, it is better that they leave the region immediately and take the business elsewhere. A person who has done business in other parts of the world would find a lot of differences in the region. So when thinking of expanding to the Gulf area, be prepared to cut and trim your product to suit the region’s culture and taste.
In some countries in the region, due to differentiation between male and female consumers, different selling methods need to be adopted. Their accessibility to the female consumers can only be through e-marketing, special shops for women, catalogues and home demonstrations.
Before marketing a product, it is important to study the different layers of consumers in the region. The consumers can be broadly divided into the local population and the expat population. Their taste and spending capacities can be very different from each other. The taste of a local with no exposure to the western world can be quite different from that of someone who studied abroad and is greatly influenced by the western taste.
When you look at the western expats working in the region, their tastes tend to remain the same, irrespective of where they live. Asians also make up for a major portion of the expat population. Though a sizeably percentage is low-paid workers, there is a small portion of the population which is well off and can indulge in a fair amount of extravagance. Depending on which part of the Gulf you decide to market your product, the percentage of the different layers of consumers change. So a thorough study on the different layers of consumers is a necessity in marketing a product in the Middle East.