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Tue 8 Jan 2019 11:06 AM

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2019 outlook: Consumer connections sit at the heart of the Middle East fashion industry

Rami Al Ali, fashion designer, said consumers are getting smarter and becoming more selective, choose brands according to the design, quality and price, as opposed to just the name

2019 outlook: Consumer connections sit at the heart of the Middle East fashion industry
Balance competition is heating up between online and offline stores

In the past year, we have witnessed a great drop in sales in the fashion and luxury industry, regionally and globally.

All this was due to the speed of the transformation in consumer shopping behavior, lack of creativity for some brands and excess of supply, as well as competition between online and physical stores.

All these elements created a new era that requires new marketing strategies, communications and digital storytelling that the market is still adapting to. All the tools that were used previously don’t necessarily apply to this rapid change. I do still expect a bit of drop in 2019, and probably a better ending where many brands manage to understand all these changes and adjust to them.

If we look at the fashion and luxury industry around the world, we will see that it is quickly evolving. For the next few years there will be a lot of transformation when it comes to consumers’ shopping behavior.

Therefore, sales will witness another dip due to oversupply and lack of creativity as brands are becoming safer in their designs and hence more commercial.

At the same time, consumers are getting smarter and becoming more selective. They shop for what they need and choose brands according to the design, quality and price, as opposed to just the name.

Reality is hitting the stores at their core and putting more pressure on them to be online

The other aspect that is affecting consumer behaviour is the new generation of young clientele which is always on the go and looking for something new. At the moment, we are still studying their spending behavior to find the right way to communicate with them and deliver the right message and product. Their attachment to technology allows them to be exposed to the global market, which spoils them with many options. This pressures brands to be more visible and reachable to them.

Those youngsters, who are the future clients for any brand, are always on the radar and a focus of marketing strategies. Previously, we could only connect with them through their guardians. Brands knew how to speak to those mature, existing clients. Nowadays, the evolution of social media has opened direct access to these clients, but the same tools used previously to communicate with them will not necessarily apply.

A few years ago, marketing channels for millennials were magazines, TV, and celebrity endorsements, as well as parental influencers. Now, the rise of social media influencers is also having an impact on millennials. Some brands are trying to move away from traditional marketing and are still learning what marketing tools can reach the segment. The message needs to be communicated in another tone of voice, as the traditional way isn’t being used effectively with most collaborations.

Youngsters are always on the radar and a focus of marketing

We have also seen a rapid growth in the number of e-commerce platforms.This gives them the time to search, compare and decide on what they want, eliminating the emotional aspect of the shopping experience and making them less excited about the purchase.

Before online shopping, brands were depending more on the emotional journey of the customer, where they’d go to the store, look through different collections, mix and match, try them on and create an actual experience out of it.

Now with hundreds of online shopping platforms, reality is hitting the stores at their core and putting more pressure on them to be available online as well as offline in order not to lose their customers and to gain new ones.

Looking at big international brands such as Gucci, we see that they are working hard on the creative aspect, whether with their designs or fashion shows, which take the brand to a new level of success and bring it closer to the consumer. Unless we create an intimate connection with the consumer, then we will face a long and quiet season in the fashion and luxury industry in this region.


Rami Al Ali, fashion designer

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