Blog: A view from the Middle East

Adrian Bell from Dubai-based brand experience and event agency Action Impact discusses the latest experiential brand marketing trends in the Middle East.

Adrian Bell discusses the experiential marketing trends in the Middle East
Adrian Bell discusses the experiential marketing trends in the Middle East

It’s no secret that the ripples of industry trends, here in the Middle East, can lag a little behind those of more mature markets in Europe. 

Much of what was the latest and greatest thinking at the end of last year is only just hitting the shores here. But importantly, that adoption gap is ever-reducing as the momentum and sheer speed that places like Dubai move at is breathtaking. 

Here are a few important shifts that we’re seeing:

Measure the experience

With ever-intelligent sales analysis techniques, Middle East marketing budgets are being scrutinised by the bean-counters more than ever before.

Activations are under pressure to extend the dialogue with consumers beyond just the event and wherever possible (and relevant) culminate in a real driver to the point of sale. If the objective is not to directly increase sales, then tangible metrics need to be considered from the outset so that a return can be clearly conveyed to the client.

It’s got to go viral

A growing trend in late 2014/early 2015 in the Middle East is the demand from brands to 'go viral' online. And yes, that all-too-familiar response from local agencies of "Er, yup, it doesn't quite work like that…" can be found everywhere.

That said, as more and more brands achieve incredible view rates around the world on sites like YouTube, we are seeing a pattern for what it takes to go viral - and at the core is more often than not an original (and genuinely authentic) experiential idea. 

Digital not for digital's sake

We’re starting to hear the expression "if you didn’t post anything on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, it didn’t happen" more than ever before. 

Increasingly in 2015, if your experiential campaign isn't also generating conversation on social networks then you have simply failed to make a memorable impression on the consumer.

Adding the mechanics that drive social media may be a bolt on to campaigns - this is better than nothing at all. However, the best campaigns will be those that consider the power of social media from the outset and allow it to shape the concept.

Mobile event apps are becoming the norm

Once regarded as gimmicks of questionable value, mobile event apps are starting to come of age. The evolution is supported by the Middle East’s high rates of smartphone penetration, coupled with its outstanding mobile data speeds, where 4G is completely normal. Event planners are finally beginning to understand how a well-designed event app can be integrated into the event experience to significantly improve audience engagement.

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