Omar Ahmed (December 18, 2012)
Having the real-time ability to predict what consumers want is the difference between those who exceed sales expectations, and those who barely manage to make the cut. Customer analytics is playing a huge role in profiling consumer behavior for decision-makers in a technology-centric marketing environment. And it’s not just sales strategies, but ultimately the consumer brand awareness that benefits from having up-to-date data on consumer behavior and perception.
While customer analytics plays a huge role in positioning corporate strategy everywhere, take the example of the Emirates. The sheer volume of consumers who flood the UAE each year, in the form of tourists, makes it even more critical to be able to understand and gauge consumer behavior in real-time. In such an environment, it is not just about customer analytics, but predictive consumer analytics. Using the ‘what if’ approach to chart business moves on-the-go.
An excellent case to understand the viability of doing your customer analytics homework manifests in Canada’s Agri-Food Trade Service’s approach to entering the Emirati market. The government body dug deep into the trenches to study UAE consumer behavior when it came to food demographics, and then connecting Canada’s companies to that critical consumer intelligence.
Ever since the Emirates catapulted into an entirely new era of modernization and rapid development, like everything else, the food sector also evolved. Dietary habits changed significantly as global brands such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Fuddruckers, all headed towards capturing a share of the burgeoning market. Analysis by the Trade Service found out that from that up to the 2015 period, the food and beverage market would grow at a rate of 9.9%, while the hotels and catering sector requirements would grow at a whopping 52%.
For Canadian companies, small and large, those statistics were critical in establishing entry strategies. Companies such as Esquires Coffee House, a Canadian coffee chain, had insights to the growing trends of health-consciousness, and nutrition labeling, as highlighted by the research.
On the other hand, large industrial suppliers had insights to trends such as the need for a modern diet, and established Prairie Halal Foods as a joint-venture, which would offer modern and exotic meat such as bison and elk to up-scale Dubai hotels, whilst being Halal. Today, Prairie has its first Middle East office in Dubai, which is also being used as a launchpad for capturing other Gulf markets, and the company is doing serious business, thanks to the efforts the Trade Service put in to understanding the changing behaviors of modern Emirati consumers.
Eric Siegel, chairman of Predictive Analytics World, famously said, “Business is becoming a numbers game and Predictive Analytics is the way to play it”.
The fact that the globe’s greatest technology companies such as IBM, with dedicated customer analytics practices, have established offices in Dubai, it gives the region’s companies access to working with professionals to gather customer data, and then make ‘what if’ sense out of it. Creating different scenarios to tackling the changing level of tourist shoppers is a market-disruptive strategy, that is easily enabled by the presence of technology giants in the Emirates. Additionally, it also sparks a culture of corporate focus towards the science of predictive analytics; the ultimate game-winner when it comes to making informed business decisions.
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