Khaled Kobrosli, CEO BrandBuzz MENA

It’s a love affair. Or at least it should be.


The relationship between brands and consumers, in its ideal scenario, should be nothing less than a love affair. After all, whom do we have stronger connection with as humans? Total strangers, acquaintances, or those we love?

In an attempt to assess how healthy this relationship currently is in the MENA region, let’s try to talk to each of the two involved in this love affair separately on the side perhaps we can try and fortify the love between them, if need be.

**To the Brand**
What is it you want most? I want to sell and then sell.
Do you care if the consumer is happy? It’s a plus.
Anything else you want? Oh yeah, I want the consumer to always choose me over the others. What have you done to earn the consumer’s love? Well, I believe my product is well made. Okay, any extra-mile effort? Uh, I post on social media and sometimes I even allow UGC. Hmm, I think we’re done with you for now.

*To the consumer**
What is it you want most from the Brand? I want it to care.
What do you mean by care? I want it to understand me, to appreciate me, to be genuine.
How can it do that? By listening to what I have to say and appreciating what I’m going through. What is it you’re going through? I and everyone I know are going through tough times. We barely came out of a 2-year pandemic alive to get hit with large scale wars causing inflation, if not recession, resulting in sudden higher cost of living and less money in hand.
What measures do you feel the Brand should take in regards to that? Lower prices for starters, but going the extra mile and getting involved in making our lives better would be super.
Okay I see. Let me have a chat with the Brand.

Now unless you’re a brand targeting only the elite, you may wanna pay attention!

Fact: MENA population now stands at 411 Million (only 54 Million of which is the better-off GCC countries) –

According to the IMF Director of Middle East and Central Asia Department: “Headline inflation in MENA is projected at 14.2 percent, on average, for this year, and expected to remain elevated in 2023.”

If I were you, Mr./Mrs. Brand, I wouldn’t rely too much on the consumer’s need for you, because in times like this, consumer behavior changes and priorities are reset, and you may end up off the list. If you want to stay on that list and perhaps on top, you have to shape up and do your homework. If you’re big enough and enjoy a great reach into communities, then get involved beyond their comfortable shelves. There are lots of areas, creative ones no less, to make an impact both on the macro (community) and micro (individual) level. And just to add a realistic vibes to this I will mention a single practical example of each.

Community Level: Almost every town or city has a dangerous street crossing causing frequent accidents and casualties every year. Approach local authorities and construct a pedestrian bridge. Problem solved. People touched.

Individual Level: Again, if your product is available even in impoverished towns, villages, and neighborhoods, step in and give back to those people by approaching, for example, key local pharmacies or grocery stores and pay off poor people’s tabs that are making their lives miserable.

And you know what? After doing that, boast about it all you want on social media and elsewhere. Who cares? After all, real people that are usually targeted by you to consume your product have been positively impacted, and that’s what matters. Better yet, perhaps when other brands see you boasting about it they will follow suit.

Now come closer and let me whisper this into your ear, Mr./Mrs. Brand: this is actually a win- win situation.

In a article dated June 13, 2022 titled “Middle East and Africa’s most loved brands,” they cited a number of invaluable points and stats in addressing “Brand Love”; I chose three to share here:

  1. Brands that get CLOSE TO THEIR CONSUMERS are in a unique position to be sustainable and resilient in the face of economic adversity.

  2. 86% of consumers spend MORE on a brand they LOVE. (Khoros)

  3. Brands that are able to create an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION receive 3 times more word of mouth than those that don’t. (Forbes)

Need more?

“A total of 70% of consumers in the MENA region believe brands have a responsibility to positively impact the world, with purpose mattering more than ever” according to the EY Future Consumer Index. (article by Lamice Murshid, EY MENA Brand, Marketing and Communications Leader.)

In other words, Mr. and Mrs. Brand, we’re actually talking business, here!

Final word to brands in the MENA:

Marketing 101: study your audience.
Most analysts tend to focus on your business side of this equation; the service, the latest technology out there, AI, location-based and AR-based advertising and the likes, however, they tend to overlook the side that matters most and that is the consumer (aka audience) who happened to be struggling today.

Don’t brands always claim to be set out to solve consumers’ problems? Here’s the chance!
Want to shine as a brand in this era? Do just that within your reach and relevance, and hopefully you and your consumers will live happily ever after.