Dubai stores eye brand tricks as competition heats up

Stores turning to fashion shows, branding campaigns in bid to boost traffic and sales
Los Angeles filmmaker and pop artist, Mr Brainwash collaborated with Bloomingdales for the stores New York, New York advertising campaign
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Sun 16 Oct 2011 10:58 AM

Dubai’s
retail outlets are pulling out all of the stops to boost their brand awareness
as they look to increase customer loyalty and drive footfall to their stores
amid increased competition.

Brands
such as Bloomingdale’s, Virgin Megastore and Mini are hosting fashion shows,
live band performances and festival style events as they look to offer
customers more than just a shopping experience.

“[Shopping]
has got to be more than the product. It’s got to be where you get it from;
you’ve got to have a reason to come to the store and that reason is that you
like the buzz and you like the feeling,” said Paul Cardwell, executive director
for the Brand Union, Middle East. 

“It
never used to be an issue here because you had such a captive audience of
people but now there are so many malls, so much competition, you have to work
harder.”

Dubai,
home to luxury shopping malls such as Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, is
the second second-most attractive emerging market for retailers after China, in
part because high disposable income, according to management consulting firm AT
Kearney.

Retail
accounts for 30 percent of gross domestic product in the emirate, home to about
40 shopping malls, Standard Chartered Bank estimates.

While
retailers in western markets have sliced their marketing budgets amid a
sluggish economy, Dubai stores are banking on lavish advertising campaigns to
get customers through their doors.

US department
store Bloomingdale’s, operated by Dubai’s Al Tayer Group in the UAE, launched
its fall/winter 2011 collection with a month-long ‘New York, New York’
marketing campaign.

Events
included live fashion shows, an in-store appearance by Hollywood star Eva
Longoria, beauty promotions and a four-metre tall King Kong installation by the
Los Angeles filmmaker and pop artist, Mr Brainwash.

[Click here for pictures]

The
store also collaborated with a number of brands to create limited edition
products. 

“It’s
created the awareness of the Bloomingdale’s brand in the market here. Eighteen
months ago we were new to market and people didn’t know what Bloomingdale’s was
or what we had to offer, today I think we’ve worked hard to promote what we are
about,” said Matthew Mackenzie, general manager at Bloomingdale’s Dubai.

“Not
only is it good for footfall and is it a point of difference for Dubai Mall, it
is cements our relationship with the mall and shows our commitment to the
market.”

When
Virgin Megastore opened its Dubai Mall store in September, it ran a 23-day
campaign that included live in-store performances from local bands and DJ’s.

Mini will
host a two-day festival, Drive Out Loud, at the end of October in which Mini
owners can participate in the largest regional convoy, watch stunt shows and
participate in competitions.

Dubai’s
advertising market, once dominated by real estate firms, is showing signs of an
improvement as the economic outlook picks up.  UAE firms spent around $349m
on advertising in the first three months of the year, accounting for 12 percent
of the Middle East’s overall advertising spend during the first quarter,
according to data from the Pan Arab Research Centre.

Virgin
Megastore Middle East’s regional marketing manager said it’s becoming
increasingly important for brands to mix their marketing strategies to include
customer engagement.

“When
the crisis hit Dubai the big brands and the big players in the markets started
deviating from the traditional mix and started to think of more strategic and
clever ways to spend their money on marketing and activities,” said Tarek
Moussawer.

“It definitely increases traffic but it also
increases people’s loyalty to the brand and it puts our brand closer to the customer
and closer to the artists and the talent in this country.”

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