What is the biggest change you have seen in the way you do business in Saudi?
Conducting business in Saudi has not fundamentally changed. What we have seen in the past four to five years is a more structured approach to investments and a much bigger focus on achievements and results. That result-oriented focus obviously requires a well-trained and well-equipped workforce.
How are societal changes affecting the industry?
A little over five years ago life was very different in Saudi. The country is changing for the better, and various pieces of research suggest that Saudis believe better things are still on the way. This is a reflection of how people perceive the changes today and in the future.
For example, if we take events (pre-Covid) like Dari3iya Season (which we promoted) or Riyadh Season, or Winter in Tantoura, the amount of interaction with the new image of Saudi Arabia is a reflection of how much Saudis look forward to the transformation that is taking place.
These changes are societal, and the agency’s role is driven by consumer insight and an understanding of consumer behaviour and motivations. Naturally, our industry has a role to play in supporting the new societal changes and reflecting that in our client’s marketing efforts to connect with the new generation who are embracing these changes.
What are clients asking for that’s new?
Fundamentally clients look for growth, and to achieve those growth targets we need to understand the drivers for growth. For example, Saudi consumers are well-versed in absorbing new tech and feel comfortable interacting and engaging with new platforms. We see those as opportunities in developing new avenues for connecting with consumers. Covid has also accelerated digital transformation and e-commerce readiness, which varies by sector but is certainly a new stream that is on the top of the agenda.
What are the biggest challenges to growth in KSA, and how are you tackling them?
The Saudi economy is around $800bn. If we take a step back and look at the 2030 Vision, at the heart of the Vision is moving the kingdom away from its oil dependency and a focus on diversification of revenue. That naturally opens the business ecosystem along with the government support to accelerate growth in the private sector. Having said that, the ecosystem is set up to minimise challenges for business growth but obviously, market conditions, consumer pull, and aggressive competition can be hurdles for growth.