“There is appetite now from more customers for uniqueness”

The Grid talks to Asil Attar, CEO, Lead Associates to discuss new fashion brands entering markets in the Middle East.

The Grid: Thank you for speaking at our event ‘New Market Entry, which prompted lots of questions by the audience, particularly about bringing original or ‘raw’ brands to the Middle East instead of the usual ‘tried and tested’ ones that have immediate market recognition. How careful do you need to be in bringing raw brands into Middle East markets?

Asil Attar: For me,  I come from a place where I scout talent and I’m always looking for the next best thing. In a market like this, because it’s growing, it’s new; you need to be very careful. If you go too soon with a very raw brand that might do great in LA but not necessarily have the traction, there is a risk involved.

However, there is also a huge reward because, you know, today we live in a world with social media, of course, and you know that whole platform, you can affect instant change.

So, if you have a right marketing strategy, you bring a new brand in and you position it, then you can quickly gain a following. For me, I’m always talking about consistency.

Number one, it’s always about consistency because the greatest brands in the world are all about destination and loyalty. Building a brand is about building that loyalty and you can’t service all the customers and so Gap versus Lacoste, very different customer base, very different need and requirement, right?

But for here, it’s a market where I think before we were very much following; you know which is why we pretty have every brand in the world.

The Grid: How much appetite is there for original or unique brands?

Asil Attar: I think, you know, the habits are changing rapidly because there is appetite now from more customers for uniqueness. They want that sense of newness and that experience because I think the more serious shoppers here actually shop outside.

The Grid: Where do the more serious shoppers shop?

Asil Attar: You know as a matter of fact, the real shopper is in Paris or in New York shopping. They don’t really shop in the Dubai per se and those that are shopping here are from the region whether it’s Arab expat or expat. They are typically looking for a new brand; a new experience or a new product. I think if you get price positioning and if you study your competition and you deliver on experience, it’s not really about the brand logo or the recognition anymore. It’s about do I need this?  Do I feel good in it? Is it giving me what I want regardless?

But you know all the successful brands are very particular on what they deliver.

This is an extract from an interview with Asil Attar, CEO, Lead Associates

Interview by May Khizam, Founder & Chief Strategist, The Grid Media Ltd

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