The MENA Power List 2021: The new era of growth, good growth, by Mindshare’s Tony Bourached

By Tony Bourached, CEO, Mindshare MENA

Years in role: 2 | Years in company: 11 | other roles: IAB GCC Board Member

The path to growth for the industry, our clients and their brands was for many years based on geography – whether it was by expanding into new markets, trying to reach more people in a given country or diversifying products and brand offerings to retain and grow market share. Nowhere is this truer than in our region, where we have seen local brands turn into regional powerhouses, regional brands challenge global brands and global brands look to the Middle East for their growth. Today’s world is a very different one.

Brands are no longer confined by geographies; you can have tea at Harrods in Qatar, buy toys at Hamley’s in Dubai, stop at a Starbucks in almost all MENA markets, to name a few examples. The world went global, and brands went on the same trip. With this cross-market growth comes responsibility; brands need to build consistency in their experiences and their values.

The truth is that geographic boundaries themselves are less important, as global platform ecosystems overtake geographical countries in their population numbers. These ecosystems are where our consumers live today. It is not just the youth who have adopted them as their new home, it’s everyone.

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In this platform-led world, consumers’ voices have been further empowered, brands win or lose based on how authentic they truly are and, most importantly, the sales funnel has collapsed. The new store is online. We are not saying bricks-and-mortar is dead. We are not saying traditional media is not critical for communication. We are saying we cannot look at the world through a historic lens. These platform ecosystems combining media and commerce in one place are set to become the new infrastructure for the next era of business.

This new platform age did not happen overnight. It has evolved in front of us, and it has happened quickly, but most of us are still playing catch-up.

And today this forces us as brands and agencies to align our marketing plans to the values of consumers, by analysing them on a more granular level to understand their motivations and anticipate their decisions. At Mindshare, our insight into consumers is precisely human, a balance of data-led insights with empathy. It is all made possible through the use of the latest tools and technologies, which are fuelled by global consumer insight research that includes insights from the region.

It drives our teams to understand the in-depth workings of the globally connected digital platforms that themselves sit inside their own platform ecosystems – think Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba and their families of businesses and apps.

Driving growth in this day and age is not so much about how to enter a new market or a new territory or expanding your product range within a market or territory. It is all about how good you are at exploiting the platform ecosystems to your advantage, and this growth is also accompanied by a growing awareness of the impact of growth on society and the planet because consumers can voice their concerns in a way not possible before, which means today your growth must be able to live:

Beyond the single sale. A focus on optimising the sale is a zero-sum game. Winning means winning consumers’ trust, by being the brand they value and can align their values with. That is a fundamental shift because the connectivity of these platforms gives people more power – and they are demanding more from brands. More transparency. More value. More action. More authenticity. This means the way you communicate with people must both understand and recognise who they are as human beings as well as how they appear in digital data across platforms. It’s about marrying the accuracy of technology with the empathy required to understand human motivations and decision-making.

Beyond the single moment. Valuing both lifetime customer value and short-term sales. Getting locked into acquisition churn and burn will not drive sustainable growth and you will get dumped if you don’t both deliver value and align with your consumers’ values.

Beyond single platforms. Because to truly grow your business you will need to succeed across multiple platform ecosystems and owned channels.

If your brand and products can adapt to these new rules, then you will drive good growth, growth that is sustainable and that benefits from the platform ecosystems. If you don’t, then you could find your brand out of step with business, the consumer, society or all three.

Are you ready for this future?

Professional highlight of the year

Working closely with our key clients to build on the shift of traditional media KPIs, which were always the core focus of our business up until a couple of years ago, to more robust and measurable business KPIs that we can now optimise based on data and actualised achievements and not a stab in the dark. Personally, having taken the lead of an agency during turbulent times, to say the least, I have learned that patience and a strong belief in myself, my business and my people makes me a better leader.

Rapid fire

What are you working on?
Bringing Mindshare’s new global proposition to MENA.

What are you worrying about?
Forecasting for 2022 and beyond.

What are you smiling at?
Digital media spends overtaking offline.

What are you reading?
The Penelopiad by Margaret Attwood.

What are you watching?
The Good Doctor.

What are you eating?
Miso Tahini Salmon at Orfali Bros Bistro.

What are you listening to?
Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky.

What are you playing?
Building a complex and challenging Lego model.

What’s your hobby?
Cooking and eating,

What’s your good habit?
Always with a genuine smile.

What’s your bad habit?
Smoking, definitely.

Who are you learning from?
My team.