x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Saatchi X sets up shop in Dubai

Saatchi & Saatchi X, the shopper marketing arm of Saatchi & Saatchi, launched its regional hub today in Dubai.

Saatchi & Saatchi X, the shopper marketing arm of Saatchi & Saatchi, launched its regional centre yesterday in Dubai, furthering the march of advertising's fastest growing category into the Gulf. Shopper marketing has grown out of the category of non-media advertising that includes promotions, coupons and in-store displays because of advancements in research into consumer behaviour. "It's every bit of marketing stimuli that actually encourage consumers, which they switch into shopper mode, to actually purchase a product," said Richard Nicoll, the managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi X Dubai. "We have a firm belief that consumers and shoppers are different." There has been rapid growth in the number of shopper marketing divisions in the US and Europe in the past five years, led by the realisation that people who go to the store with the intention of buying certain things make purchasing decisions in different ways to those who have not made shopping lists or brought their money along. According to a study last year by Oxford Strategic Marketing, shopper marketing accounted for 5 per cent of respondents' marketing budgets in 2007, but was expected to rise to 12 per cent by next year. This growth represented the fastest rate of any spend area, even outpacing internet advertising. Saatchi & Saatchi began its shopper marketing activities in the US, helping the world's largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, sell more products inside the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart. By 2005, it had launched a division of the new company, Saatchi & Saatchi X, in London, which Mr Nicoll helped found. "I've seen the rise of the shopper conversation over the last five years in western Europe go from yet another bucket to put people into to something much more central and core," he said. After launching a division in China in 2007, Saatchi & Saatchi X is now focusing on growth from new centres in Moscow and Dubai. Saatchi & Saatchi X's UAE opening comes 18 months after MEMAC Ogilvy opened a Dubai office of OgilvyAction, its division dedicated to "brand activation", which includes shopper marketing. That division has grown from an office of three to one of more than 30 in the past 18 months, and recently launched offices in Jeddah and Beirut. Claus Adams, the MENA regional director of OgilvyAction, said his business followed the shopper backwards from the point of purchase, trying to influence them with a range of strategies, from the arrangement of products on the shelves to the internet promotion they saw on a social-network site before getting in the car. Joseph Ghossoub, the chairman and chief executive of the Menacom Group in Dubai - which includes advertising brands such as Y&R and Mediaedge:cia - said he expected the boom in what he called "retail" marketing in the West to soon be a major force in the region. "Today what we are seeing is a big move into retail, rather than above or below [the line]," Mr Ghossoub said. "By retail I mean sales promotions, sales incentives, marketing in retail, product sampling. "This is the wave we see coming from abroad. It is already here, but it will become even stronger in the next two years because this is where FMCG's [fast-moving consumer goods] core market is." While Saatchi & Saatchi X's 350 staff worldwide represent less than 5 per cent of its parent company's operation, Mr Nicoll said it is sure to grow as the field becomes better understood. He plans to start with a team of about six and eventually help the company use its understanding of the shopping behaviour of people from the subcontinent to open an Asian division. "We know that 70 per cent of purchase decisions tend to be made in front of a shelf rather than in front of a billboard," Mr Nicoll said. "We are unashamedly talking to that shopper." khagey@thenational.ae