FMCG in the Middle East: Navigating the Desert Market

February 14, 2023

FMCG in the Middle East: Navigating the Desert Market

The Food’s the limit! From the bustling streets of Dubai to the more traditional markets of Saudi Arabia, localising FMCG products has to be creative, innovative and flexible to succeed in this ever-growing diverse region. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are getting adapted to different market varieties in the Middle East, each with its own set of uniqueness, challenges and opportunities.

Let’s nestle in the Middle East

One example of a company that has adapted well to the Middle East market is NESTLE. The Switzerland-based food giant has been able to tap into the hearts of Arabs through their sweets and desserts with its popular Nido milk powder (I bet the theme song is playing in your head now). Nestle has also been able to localise its products to appeal to different markets, such as launching the Halal version of its popular KitKat chocolate bars in Saudi Arabia.

Another example is Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, which has been able to adapt to the Middle Eastern markets by focusing on traditional values and customs. Unilever’s corporate mission is to add vitality to life everywhere. It has launched a line of halal-certified personal care products under its Dove brand, catering to the region’s Muslim population. Unilever has also been successful in the region by investing in local manufacturing, which has helped boost its brand image recognition and increased its market share.

Digital transformation better, faster and improving lives

With the Middle East having some of the highest consumer digital engagement in the world, companies in the region have an opportunity to create an advantage by developing cutting-edge features and functionality tailored to Middle East consumers. Since the Middle East has been rapidly evolving as a significant region with a high amount of buying power, it has become one of the key leading markets for many companies and brands in the start-up era. With the rise of social media, it is easier to customise marketing strategies to meet the target audience’s needs. Just think of the potential benefits and the brands that have already succeeded. Building a successful presence is easy with the right strategies and tactics.

Tips for Success

  • Tailored content, including visuals, dialects and language related to the local market
  • Utilise social media, influencer market, and search engines
  • Take advantage of FMCG opportunities to offer discount and promotions
  • Use the right channels to reach the target audience

Creating a Winning Campaign

To craft an effective campaign in the Middle East, brands must consider their marketing and advertising strategies, considering the flourishing Arab eCommerce sector. People in the Middle East generally have 8.4 social media accounts; capitalising on this can help brands directly connect and interact with their audience and build a trustworthy bond. It is essential to ensure that campaigns are tailored following the customs and values of the targeted region. Influencer marketing has the potential to reach people on a more personal level, especially since the Top TikTok influencers in the GCC have seen a 65% rise in their following base since 2020. Traditional media such as local newspapers, radio and television should also be considered to create a holistic and integrated campaign that maximises reach.

Still asking yourself, WHY localise?

In conclusion, FMCG companies have had to navigate various markets in the Middle East. Taking into account the different cultural norms, languages, and preferences is a difficult feat for specific brands. Still, with the right tactics and careful planning, it is possible to localise products, services and brands. Companies that have been successful in the region have been able to adapt their products and marketing strategies to appeal to local consumers while staying true to their brand’s core values. As the old Arabic saying goes, “To succeed in the desert, you have to learn to dance in the sand.” FMCG companies that are able to adapt can certainly thrive in the Middle East market.

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