Putting the GCC Audience First: Audience-First Marketing for the Arabic-Speaking World

December 21, 2021

With a collective GDP of $1.4 trillion and a per capita income that ranks among the highest in the world, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region represents a high-value target for established and emerging brands. Successful entry into this unique market, however, requires a nuanced understanding of consumers that traditional marketing techniques often fail to capture.

At D/A, we use an audience-first methodology to develop marketing strategies based on the unique attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of Arabic-speaking consumers. 

What is Audience-First Marketing?

Traditional strategies begin with a product or service, followed by the development of a unique brand identity. Finally, marketing analysts use data to identify the best audience for advertising and promotional campaigns that drive sales. It’s an effective system, but also an expensive one with significant risk. Imagine spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a product and brand identity, only to discover that no audience for either exists in your target market.

Audience-first strategies reverse this cycle, putting the consumer front-and-center. For example, a brand seeking to enter a new market might spend months developing and refining its social media presence, learning what makes consumers tick, and tweaking the brand story before ever mentioning a product. Rather than investing time and money into designing a product or brand and then hoping it resonates, audience-first marketing identifies a loyal consumer base first, learning what kind of content speaks most effectively to an audience and priming it to purchase. 

Here at D/A, we built Sila to better understand Arabic-speaking audiences in their native language, which means we’re ideally placed to identify what an audience cares about; member personalities; and member preferences. 


Understanding the GCC Audience

Understanding what your audience has to say obviously plays a critical role in developing a strategy to meet its needs, but it’s far from the only important step. Knowing how your audience thinks, what really makes them tick, requires looking at how members behave. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words. 

One way to collect this information, which marketers call ‘ambient data’, involves focusing on influencers and thought leaders. Traditional marketing looks to these disruptors only for promotional purposes, while audience-first marketing observes how consumers respond to creators and their unique content to gain insight into how the audience responds emotionally to an idea or offering. How much time does the audience spend consuming one thought leader’s content versus another’s? Which influencers have the best success in leading trends? Another involves monitoring audience behavior in multiple settings, from social media to entertainment. As the line between entertainment, branding, and artistic creation blurs, traditional purchase and pricing analysis alone fails to capture the nuances of consumer preferences, particularly in highly-specialized markets like the GCC. 

At D/A, we have access to billions of ambient data points that help us better understand the unique behaviors and preferences of consumers in the GCC countries, giving brands unfamiliar with the culture of the region a unique advantage in understanding its consumers.

The Bottom Line

For brands seeking to enter the GCC market, with its unique linguistic and cultural characteristics, an audience-first marketing strategy based on data derived from AI specifically designed to operate natively in the dominant regional Arabic dialect can be the difference between a successful product launch and years of head-scratching or trial and error.

To learn more about audience-first marketing in the GCC and how we can help you craft a targeted strategy, contact us.

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