What does growth look like for Mars in the MENA region and how is the company looking to achieve it? In this interview, Mahmoud Maghraby, Client Managing Director, MediaCom MENA, gets the answers from Mohamed Torki, Mars’ Senior Marketing Director (GCC) & Innovation Leader (MEA).
MAHMOUD MAGHRABY: What does the next level of growth look like for Mars – in MENA, specifically?
MOHAMED TORKI: The MENA region has changed massively over the last 10 years. E-commerce and social media have blown consumers away. Things like health and wellbeing are on the rise, and people’s aspirations and needs are changing fast. Consumer trends are changing because markets are modernizing here. In Saudi, for instance, women can drive now.
To keep growing, brands need to keep pace with what’s happening around them. We can’t spend 12-24 months developing a product anymore because trends will have changed by the time it comes out. These days, we need to respond much quicker to consumer needs. That means being more agile, so we can roll out local solutions quickly, eliminating middlemen.
We also need to remember the importance of brand building. Offers and promotions will not carry us into the future. People are less influenced by promotions than they used to be; now they are looking for brands they can trust and who share their values.
MM: How can big businesses keep pace with change?
MT: First, we need to understand how to service the new channels where consumers are interacting with our products. It’s crucial we give our people the right training to do this. Successful businesses know they need to adapt. Some companies – including Mars – have already created incubators which give fresh young talent the freedom to develop innovative ideas,outside their regular processes. We need agencies to help us – but it’s important they evolve, too. Traditional advertising models are dying. It’s not enough for a creative team to just come up with nice ideas for my brand anymore – they need to solve our business challenges, too. If they don’t, they won’t exist 10 years from now.
MM: The ultimate measurement of success for anybusiness is sales. How can agencies get better at measuring this?
MT: I expect my creative agency to track consumer engagements, ask us for sales impact data, and tell us which creative drove the best results. And I expect them to collaborate from a tracking standpoint and understand how to leverage the agencies around them to drive strong business results. Today, in MENA, measurement is hard, but they can track what’s happening on the ground, in-store interactions, engagement with creative work, and so on.
MM: How can Mediacom help you unlock growth?
MT: If I look at the last 2-3 years, companies in the Middle East are spending more on offers and reducing their media spend (or, at least, not increasing it as they should). This is dangerous because marketers need to invest in media to keep building their brands. The reason why companies are reducing their media spend is because of the lack of tracking. Some media monitoring is present now in the Middle East, but we are way behind the rest of the world. This is a media industry issue, but we need media agencies like MediaCom to help us drive measurement forward.
To grow efficiently, we are also looking for our media agency partners to provide us with services beyond regular media buying and planning. MediaCom is already doing this through its content development arm and community management arm. It’s valuable to us.
We are also looking for MediaCom to help us deliver more personalized messages. When consumers buy online, they expect more than they get in-store; they expect personalization, differentpackaging, and products tailored to different seasons and different occasions.You cannot keep targeting everyone the same way. You need to understand different consumers’ needs, why they need your product and how they use your product, and then tailor your propositions based on these needs.
Consumer-driven insights have always been key to success. But they used to be simpler and broader, and easier to meet. Today, as we collect more and more data, these insights are much more granular.