Looming Financial Crisis, Brands and Commodities

I don’t see the Financial Markets settling soon. Global Financial Markets will stay volatile till 2020, possibly beyond. It’s like a FINANCIAL BAZOOKA, like a train coming straight at you and you are not going to stop it by standing in its way. I see more financial bloodbath and rocky times ahead for many countries & their markets. Simple investors will have sleepless nights and smart investors will have peace of mind with their funds. But the question is where to park your funds when markets are so uncertain and unpredictable?

The Answer: Follow the basic rule of LIFE and invest in REAL ASSETS for Wealth Preservation. The global economy stands at a crossroad of growth and decline and few financial markets might even collapse. If we analyze economic history, we see that there is a recession in the global economy after every 7/8 years. So it’s long overdue now and which is why 2016 has started on a rocky note as markets went down in China, Europe, US and Asia. Financial markets look too choppy at the moment. According to Sam Zell—American Business magnate and Real Estate mogul:

US economy is knocking at the doors of deep recession in the next 7 to 11 months. Global economy is witnessing a bigger crisis which will last longer and perhaps will be more severe than the 1930s… History is repeating after 83 years and many investors are not aware of the gravity of the situation

So what’s a MARKETERS ROLE IN TOUGH TIMES? Consumers are very sensitive to Brands. FMCGs are much stable even in hard times when the economy hits rock bottom but the same doesn’t apply to Retail especially for Auto and Luxury markets as these two sectors suffer the most. The question that Economists frequently ask: Can Brands sustain themselves in times of hardship when companies cut their Marketing budgets?

The answer is simple; Brands can live long if they are real Brands (and not commodities) because of their relevance for and being the preference of their target segment. In a volatile Economy, Brands who share the same Category Values suffer the most because consumers end up making decisions based on Price. In these times, Marketers who depend on huge budgets suffer the most because they depend on Advertising as a means of influencing Consumer decisions unlike Brands which are grown organically and are sustainable in a recession economy simply because their consumers’ habits and reactions depend least on communications or any tools that influence their call to action. In tough times, Brands survive and thrive over commodities, for example: McDonald’s globally and Saudi Brands such as Al Baik and Al Marai will still perform well, like previous times

It is only in uncertain times that Marketers can innovate and come up with strategies to move ahead and support the companies’ reservation on spending

Shan Saeed is Chief Economist at IQI Holdings whose expert views have been aired on CNBC, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera English. He advises clients in the Middle East and South East Asia

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, an author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renowned Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

The Preferred Brand

Why Brand Preference matters?

You always think of your competition and most companies position their resources to battle competition. If your Brand was Preferred and Relevant, competition won’t matter, your Brand will matter

Your company will focus its resources on how to serve the customers better, innovate and became more preferred as well as relevant

For example, Facebook is preferred for time spent with family and friends to share stories. Facebook is relevant as a Brand for creating the subcategory of instant messaging, in fact, Facebook is the most relevant Brand on mobile to reach family and friends through messages

Today the world knows that Facebook owns WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger apps. Both have become ‘must haves’ on mobiles/smartphones. This acquisition has made the Brand more relevant by owning the subcategory of Mobile Messaging

Snickers the candy bar, is preferred when you need a quick meal to hold up your hunger, it’s relevant because it shares two great attributes: Chocolate and Energy

The more you focus on your target audience, the better you perform. Keeping an eye on your competition will drain your resources and your Brand will become irrelevant

Example: Every time we think of the best Airlines in the region we think of Emirates, we think of the service, we think of the luxury and innovative experience. On the same token, as much as Qatar Airways invests in and claims its ‘5 Star’ airline status, the Brand is still irrelevant to a category owned by Emirates

On the other hand, Etihad Airways is focusing more into Premium Luxury Travel, they just introduced ‘The Residence’ for their first class. Now Etihad has created a category and has become the preferred and relevant Brand to High Net-worth individuals traveling first class which Emirates enjoyed having on their Airbus A380s and lost

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 7th February, 2015

Consumers are Confused!

Consumers in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East are confused on how to distinguish between Supermarkets and Hypermarkets or to realize the end benefits, thereof

Hypermarkets are relatively new as a shopping culture and as an experience, to the region. Today, Hypermarkets are treated like Supermarkets and Consumers’ knowledge on the former is relatively new which also makes it irrelevant for them as a destination. Giants like Panda should set the leadership base to educate about consumers’ grocery experience across the industry

Brand leadership is best practiced through Knowledge, Self-esteem and Brand Relevance. Panda, the Brand, has the potential but I’m very much surprised as why it’s not championing the leadership opportunity that remains unexploited by its competitors?

Initiatives such as the ones mentioned above, create Brand Relevance that leads to Brand Dominance, making competition irrelevant

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 2nd January, 2015

Al Youm ‘Brand’, Al Watania ‘Commodity’

Al Youm the Saudi Poultry brand by Al Marai Group is more relevant than any other poultry brand in the Kingdom

Why?

Because every Poultry brand in the Kingdom offers both whole chicken and chicken parts, they share the same values and benefit with the customer who eyes only for reputation and price. Al Youm decided to create its space by adding more value to its current relevance in order to strengthen their position within the category

How?

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Al Youm offered ready-to-cook marinated chicken (similar to al Watania) and minced chicken to be more relevant (in terms of value and emotions) thereby becoming the most preferred brand whereas Al Watania (which set the trend by offering marinated whole chicken in the first place) failed to create its space because it lacked the Brand Relevance and self-esteem which Al Youm owns

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Brands can’t be preferred if they’re treated as commodities, today Saudi and Arab consumers understand their needs and wants, they’re intelligent not to follow false advertising claims. Brand’s are about values that resonates with the promise made to the audience

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Brand Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on AskBaaghil.com

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The article was first published on Linkedin Pulse on 8th August, 2015