Moov-ing into the subscription model – by Al Futtaim Automotive’s Katib BelKhodja

By Katib Belkhodja, Marketing director at Al-Futtaim Automotive

According to market trends data firm Statista, UAE consumers were shying away from big-ticket investments, including cars, in a post-pandemic world. The Method Research has found that, despite declining car prices in 2020-2021, many consumers were still unable to afford or are unwilling to commit to buying a new vehicle. We used to buy/rent DVDs, now we stream Netflix or Amazon Prime. We used to buy records, now we stream music on Spotify or Anghami. Today’s customer wants everything on their own terms. They want fair prices for exceptional service, with no hassle or commitment – instantly. They want their buying experience to be transparent, straight-forward and, most of all, utterly convenient. Subscription businesses provide consumers with value, convenience, and personalised offerings while fostering stability and growth.

Similarly, the younger generation’s willingness to commit to buying and leasing a car is low and declining. By offering subscribers a service whereby they can schedule convenient drop-offs and collection, transparent pricing and a secure booking and payment system, a car-subscription app provides the younger audience with a transparent and 100 per cent paperless platform that addresses the evolving consumer need. We have seen a high penetration of Emiratis subscribing for a month or two when additional family cars are required and female drivers subscribing to our new car-subscription app Moov increasing month on month. We have seen a high demand from drivers aged 25-34.

Promising mobility with a whole new level of flexibility, Moov by Al-Futtaim introduced the concept of car usership vs car ownership. To bring this to life, our campaigns need to be disruptive in tonality, look and feel but also in our media choices, to reflect the dynamism and novelty of our concept. Our solution addresses an audience that is dynamic in its lifestyle, placing a high importance on flexibility, peace of mind and convenience.

Aimed at providing convenient and sustainable mobility for the growing demand from customers across the UAE, Moov by Al-Futtaim primarily caters to the modern consumer’s ever-changing lifestyle and pursuit of practicality but is for anyone looking for affordable, convenient mobility. Our subscribers come to us because they trust us to provide a flexible, seamless mobility experience without having to worry about hidden costs. MOOV has a gender and age agnostic target audience simply because it can truly appeal to anyone for different reasons and triggers. Therefore, instead of using demographics, we have defined a segmentation that is based on attitudes and behaviours and adopted a media approach that is targeting all relevant audiences.

Moov is all about end-to-end digital, no paper involved, it is about car usership vs ownership – which means the same cars are being utilized by several customers and we are growing our fleet of vehicles with Hybrid and Electric cars to continue to contribute to the UAE’s sustainability goals. Moov announced, on the 1st of December 2022, the introduction of Polestar to the fleet; the Swedish high-performance electric vehicle.

In our first years for our app, we aim to adopt offline media such as OOH and Radio to generate strong awareness and recall to a wide audience. Such investment may generate the expected results, however building equity on a nascent brand requires consistent investments. Otherwise, much of the investment should be digital and social, where a precision marketing approach can be executed, that is to place the right message/ad to the relevant audience, according to its interest (family, adventurer, urban, eco conscious, and so on).

We launched in beta first so we could test and learn. We were also underpinned by data – we surveyed the market, so we knew what customers were looking for. Finally, you must be organised to ensure you are on track. In our case, from ideation to launch, it took us seven months, which is extremely fast to market.

However, with current supply issue of automotives, the necessity of marketing is always questioned, however, it is about convincing that brand equity can quickly erode without maintenance. We have been adjusting the balance our brand and sales driven investments and continue to do so with higher focus on upper funnel activities targeting the far and near market audiences and therefore build a pool of prospects for the future. We obviously continue to target in-market audiences and our new eCommerce websites launched over the last two years have been performing really well to maximise our performance on that front.

In the case of Moov where the business model revolves around availability of cars, the supply has been a tremendous challenge. However, we have been able to source throughout the year the sufficient and relevant models to match our customer demand.