Social Media is Empowering the UAE Consumer; New Techniques presented in IAA Educational Series

Consumers in the UAE are now more powerful than ever, believes communications veteran Rafic Kamaleddine.  Speaking at a professional workshop given by the International Advertising Association (IAA), the Dubai-based Chief Strategy Officer for TBWA/RAAD Middle East expressed the need for a deeper, more personal understanding of the consumer journey as a result ofshifting new media habits. 

“Newcommunications technologyand wider influencing systems are just some of the factors that have altered the traditional decision-making process, giving more power to the customer,” commented Kamaleddine.  “Exploring this new purchasing process, on and offline, is essential to creating effective communications campaigns and today there are new techniques available to make this happen.”

In an effort to ensure these techniques become more widely used, Kamaleddine presented a full-day training course to X (ADD NUMBER) of Dubai’s would-be communications strategists and planners as part of the IAA UAE Chapter’seducation series.  The series, which is a core part of the organisation’s continued efforts to raise professional standards in the advertising and communications industry, sees regular and affordable training sessions offered to the market on subjects including digital media and strategic planning.

Speaking on technology specifically, Kamaleddine continued, “internet enabled searches, RSS feeds, twitter and other forms of social or user-driven media present both a challenge and an opportunity.  It has transformed the purchasing universe by making reviews and comments, previously only accessible through direct word-of-mouth, available not only locally but globally.  For example, a positive or negative comment on a car brand made by someone in Europe can impact the decision to buy, on potential customers here in the UAE.  And still this sphere of information and influence continues to expand.  This is no longer the linear process it used to be.”

“Equally, we as communications specialists are now able to listen and track these comments and conversations online,” added Kamaleddine.  “We can see where this information is coming from and better understand the impact it may have on the buying population.  Digital listening is essential to understanding today’s consumers. The customer holds the power today and we need to make sure we know them inside and out.”

During the session, participants were asked to take part in digital listening exercises as well as assess insights gathered directly from customer interviews conducted in advance of the session.  “Sometimes we just need talk to the customer; hear what they think and really experience their decision-making process.  In the UAE this is particularly important given the multi-cultural, multi-lingual nature of the community.”

Speaking in support of the IAA’s education series, IAA board member, Douglas Palau from IMPACT BBDO commented, “There is always more we can do to improve the consumer relevance and effectiveness of our campaigns, delivering more value to our clients and customers, particularly now that the balance of power is shifting ever more to the consumer.  Communications is a vital part of our economy and ensuring best practise and higher professional standards can only improve the sustainability of our industry.”