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Mon 11 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Time for action

OgilvyAction have called for improvements to how retailers approach category management in the Middle East.

OgilvyAction have called for improvements to how retailers approach category management in the Middle East.

MemacOgilvy has launched the first company to specialise in the path along the decision to purchase in Dubai, and CEO Edmond Moutran has already predicted its latest business will reach 10 markets in the region over the next three years.

"We have brought OgilvyAction to the Middle East because we see a big need for these specialised Last Mile services and experts in consumer behaviour and activation," he said.

We brought OgilvyAction to the Middle East as we see a big need for experts in consumer behaviour and activation.

Moutran predicted the company would grow from eight to 20 employees in the UAE by April, backed by the huge potential for such services.

"It is all about the ‘big' brand idea that is communicated to consumers at various touch-points to steer consumer behaviour, whether it's sampling, point-of-sale material, retail merchandising or experiential marketing," he said.

The firm has responded to the growth of the GCC - with an escalating GDP of US $600 million in 2006, a 34 million-strong population, the world's 17th largest economy and a Gross Leasable Area expected to exceed 130 million ft ² by 2010.

The team intends to support marketers with the transition from low-end grocer to high-tech, one-stop shops.

"The increase in market competitiveness has meant that brand owners must produce sophisticated marketing activity to be noticed. We have already started our shopper and field research in the region."

Steve Harding, CEO, OgilvyAction, Europe, Middle East and Africa explained that the process begins by analysing the relationship between the brand, the shopper and the retailer, before using planning tools such as MarketAnalytics and ShopperAnalytics.

"These tools enable the measurement of not only the impact of messaging - clarity, quality, distribution and compliance of in-store communication, but also allow the importance of the various touch-points along the final path to purchase."

The activation business is growing at an average of 10% per annum worldwide, Harding said, and he went to describe supermarkets as the "new media."

"Customers are now hit by e-mails, fixtures, friends and blog sites, and there are brands that have grown without TV ads such as Starbucks Coffee and Virgin."

The company has been developed to enable marketers to cut through the clutter and reach consumers at key moments of truth, and ultimately to influence their actions at the point of purchase, backed by its encouraging studies showing that between 40-70% of purchase decisions are made in-store.

The company's practises have already achieved success for major businesses across the globe.

It conducted a recent study on 2500 shoppers in Asia, and now plans to follow a similar month-long approach across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the initial findings to be released in eight weeks.

OgilvyAction worked in partnership with JWT to the US to create ‘Hairapy' for Sunsilk, and connect with a fictional character known as Katie.

The problem-solution brand targeted 18-24 year olds facing the ‘quarter life crisis' via its traditional website and blogsites.

For out of the door channels, the company assembled its biggest sampling team in its history to promote Sunsilk in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Freezer clings at ice cream stands in stores featured the Sunsilk brand, and the company engaged its audience at the fixture with free makeup bags and fridge magnets with purchases.

The campaign witnessed the distribution of 1,157,592 gift cards and 1,191,921 media impressions.

"Merchandising and category management needs to be improved in the Middle East, and ‘retailtainment' is starting to come."

"Brands should be looking at how they are using their marketing spend, and how they can add more theatre to retail after they get the basics right," said Richard Woodward, business director, OgilvyAction Dubai.

The Last Mile is the company's trademarked concept, which refers to the distance a consumer travels between an attitude and an action, from brand consideration to the final purchase decision.

The retailer's power is increasing, according to Harding, for example multiple grocers can decide which brands to stock and where to place them on shelves.

The company develops communications to ensure that their clients' brands are chosen, whether the purchase decision takes place in the street, at events, online or in-store.

"MarketAnalytics and ShopperAnalytics both allow reporting at a summary lever, various segments - channel, region, retail group, salesman or distributor territory - all the way down to the individual outlet, giving brands both visibility and insights on what is really happening at the point of purchase," said Woodward.

"With the growth of retail in the region, there are huge opportunities. Yet per capita spending is still very low compared to the US, so this is a very exciting time to be in the market," he added.

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