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Regional brands must evolve or face extinction, says Aujan Industries CEO

United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, September 20 - 2006 @ 16:03

Citing the increasing number of families in which both parents work, smaller family units and a new lifestyle that is being enthusiastically adopted by an increasingly youthful population, Alex Andarakis said that the needs and expectations of consumers across the region have changed dramatically.

Speaking at a one-day Dubai workshop, “ShopperTrends: The Way Consumers Shop,” which was hosted by international market research organization ACNielsen, Andarakis argued that regional consumers are also now offered far more choice than ever before – in terms of goods, brands and outlets. As a result, the Middle East retail industry has shifted from one dominated by supply to one led by demand. This shift is placing enormous strains on brands across the region, said the head of one of the Gulf’s fastest-growing beverage and confectionary businesses.

Over the course of a century, Andarakis pointed out, Aujan Industries evolved from importer to distributor to manufacturer to marketer and exporter. The pace of change today, however, is not evolutionary but revolutionary.

“The region’s social and economic transformation is driving changes in corporations, and nowhere more so in the retail sector,” said Andarakis. “As a result, companies like Aujan Industries have to constantly reinvent themselves. While we have been active in the region for more than 100 years, we have never seen a more competitive or faster-changing environment. This is the new regional reality: consumers are now able to lead and suppliers must follow.”

At the conference on the future of Middle East retail, Andarakis argued that the socio-economic shift taking place in the Arab world necessitates new, broad-based strategies for winning the hearts and minds of customers here. Cultures evolve, he pointed out, and so must brands.

“Today, our truly core business is not selling beverages,” Andarakis said. “Our business is managing change.”

That sentiment was widely shared among the industry experts who attended “ShopperTrends: The Way Consumers Shop,” part of the Consumer 360 series of conferences run by ACNielsen.
Today’s event was a landmark in the sharing of best practices and insights among retail executives in the Middle East region.

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Wednesday, September 20- 2006 @ 16:03 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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