In my previous post Toys, Values & Opportunities in The MENA Region I highlighted the importance of understanding the target markets’ cultures in order for businesses to customize their offerings accordingly.
Lately we have been witnessing a growing trend in the advertising industry in the MENA region and mainly in TV/ video ads; which is the use of the gulf’s dialect to convey the ad message.
To make this simple, there are 22 countries in the Arab world, stretching from Asia to North Africa, who speak one language with many dialects (mix of classical and local words).
The 4 main categories are:
- Levantine Arabic (Eastern Mediterranean)
- Egyptian Arabic
- Maghrebi Arabic
- Gulf or Khaleeji Arabic (and each GCC country has its own dialect)
The first 2 categories are popular due to the films and movies produced in these 2 regions. As for the official written Arabic it is usually classical, unless the conversation is informal.
Going back to the growing trend of using the gulf dialect, I must say that this trend has its own positive magic and makes me think how cool it will be for toy companies to adapt this new strategy while communicating to the young local audience in the gulf region.
Now this might be an advanced step for some international companies, who recently entered to the MENA region or are yet to use the Arabic language in their communications, however the main idea here is to start adapting to the target market's culture even if by applying simple steps which can make a big difference and result in building an intimate relation with kids, parents and families in general.
To turn this thought into practical ideas, we share below some simple steps, which can be applied in different aspects to appeal more to the local audience:
- Packaging: A very simple tactic applied by some toy companies in the MENA region, is to offer Arabic translation besides the English on their packaging. This doesn’t mean to translate every single English word on the packaging but it can be applied by sharing the toy name in Arabic, the character’s name if it was an action figure/ doll/ collectables or even the playing steps if the toy had the how to play part. This tactic becomes very helpful when toy companies are ready to launch Arabic social media platforms allocated to their target audience in the MENA region and start referring to their products using the Arabic names.
- Marketing Communication: Also a common step to get closer to the local audience is to use the Arabic language in the various produced marketing collaterals and ads to help deliver the message easily to kids and families. As mentioned in the 1st point allocating specific social media platforms to the MENA region is a very healthy step towards building strong connection with your target market. This is becoming a common strategy for international FMCG companies to have both international pages and Middle East pages within their social media platforms.
- Product: Besides using the Arabic language as mentioned in the 2 above points, the product itself can be bilingual or reflects scenery from the MENA region, and here I am not referring to categories such as preschool brands like Vtech which is designed to teach Arabic and English languages in a fun way, yet I am spotting the light on other opportunities (categories) which can adapt the same strategy! Let me share with you a few nice examples; Hasbro Gaming as an example developed a bilingual Monopoly board game, which is really cool and teaches kids very interesting terms in their own language. Also Power Joy and Cubic Fun 3D puzzles use popular icons from the gulf region like Burj Khalifa as the main design/ story for their puzzles, the same has also been produced by Lego Architecture. These ideas are not limited to board games/ puzzles or construction toys, companies producing toys in various categories like fashion dolls, arts and crafts, vehicles, etc. can also be innovative and add a touch of local twist to their offerings to adapt to the culture.
- Cultural and Local Events: In addition to applying slight developments on 2 of the marketing Ps (product and promotion “advertising”), participating in local and cultural events and CSR initiatives will definitely support the company in blending further with the culture and in appealing more to kids, families and communities.
In conclusion, the above steps are simple and doing business in your customers’ way will bridge the communication gap between your brand and the users, add more value to them, help you gain new appreciation, support your company in building a loyal customer base and grant your brand a competitive edge by enhancing its perception and position against the competition.