Each country or region comes with its own marketing challenges. But none are as dynamic or complex as the European Union. With a population of nearly 500 million and 20% of the world’s trade, it dwarfs the United States as the single largest trading entity. But unlike the US, where there is one dominant language, the EU’s linguistic diversity consists of nearly 20 official languages. The cultural diversity (Spain vs. Moldova) and geographic extremes make it a marketers playground.

Take Italy for instance. People are more focused on individual contact, customers have a resistance to accept mechanisation of customer service. This attitude runs contrary to Scandinavia Europe, which boasts the highest level of self service.

Differences in attitudes, geography, cultures and languages translate into greater challenges for the marketers, and hope these obvious differences get reflected in the marketing plans. Kuwait, on the other hand, is a much easier market I’m glad.

This post was on a early Saturday morning. Time to begin the day.

I am one of the few marketing trainers who like to keep fit. If you have attended any of my training sessions, then you would know that I have bulging muscles and….wait, who am i kidding? I am overweight, and all my workout efforts at the gym at negated by gulping down the glazed doughnuts at Krispy Kreme.


Nonetheless, in my pursuit to keep fit, I decided to visit the nearest sports store to get myself a new pair of trainers. Now generally, I am not loyal to any one particular brand (though I do have a slant towards Adidas), but the Nike trainers, all shining and fragrant of raw rubber, were begging me to check them out. They looked good. And I envisioned the physique of John Cena on me in no time once I would put them on.

So after trying on 4 different pairs and 3 various sizes, I finally got the pair I wanted. Then came the question: how much?

Me: Excuse me, how much for this life changing, body sculpting, feel good, femme-attracting, road-runner speed giving, calves shaping pair of Nike’s?

Clerk: KD. 40/-

The sportsman in me took to the bench and the marketer took control.

Me: What? 40 dinars? Do you know how much it costs to make these?

Clerk: … (must have thought I was a class A jerk though)

Me: It costs about 5 dinars for the rubber and molding for the pair. Materials, shipping, import duties and supplier costs make it to about 12 dinars. Ok..Nike also pays for advertising and R&D, so that adds another KD 7. Selling at a profit of KD. 4 to the retailer, the retailers has to pay KD. 30 to put a pair on the shelf. Add to that the HR costs, along with KD 9 as profit, the customer pays KD. 40

Clerk: So…umm..are you gonna take it?

Me: Umm…er..no, I’ll have the Adidas instead. Size 42 (yeah, I have small feet). Black color please.

As I walk out the store, I cant help but imagine how marketing, distribution and its various principles force customers to pay for products nearly 7 times its manufacture costs. Then again, everyone involved has to make a profit. From the Nike guys to the man driving the delivery truck in Kuwait, we all have a part to play in the KD. 40 trainers.

(The cost breakdown is adapted from Marketing Management by Philip Kotler, European Edition)

The Islamic Connection


This post is going to talk about the Islamic car. No, I am not talking about the Saudi made Gazalle I.

Volkswagon was set to acquire Malaysian car manufacturer Proton and manufacture the world’s first “Muslim oriented” car. The prototype would boast a compass pointing towards Mecca, a special box for carrying the Qur’an and another compartment for headscarves. Sounds appealing, if you are a practising Muslim that is.

Lets understand the facts: There are about 1.7 billion Muslims on the planet, with nearly 80 million in Turkey alone. It was, therefore, only logical for Volkswagon to capitalize on such an emotional appeal and partner with Proton to capture this burgeoning sector. 

But like some fairy tales, this one does not have a happy ending. Talks between the two automakers failed early last month, and both have agreed to go (or drive) their separate ways.

You have to give it to Volkswagon for its savviness. To fill a religious gap in terms of automotive is almost brilliant. Too bad we couldnt see the marketing campaign. A drive from Munich to Mecca in the first Islamic car would have been nice.

Know your markets

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Marketing in General

What is marketed? Goods? products? services?

Did you know there are seven entities that can be marketed. Kuwait is a vibrant economy and holds great potential to marketing each of these ideasm if understood correctly.

1). Services
Service marketing is definitely on the rise in Kuwait. From investment, airlines, hotels, car hire, training. Such sectors hold promising growth. Service production and consumption is nearly sumultaneous. You cannot test drive a hotel stay, or feel investment schemes. However thats not always the case. Consider visiting McDonald’s on the Gulf Road and enjoying a good ol’ Big Mac. That’s consuming both a product (the meal) and service (speed of delivery)

2). Products
The backbone of economic growth in the 20th century. The Post industrial revolution saw an explosion in the manufacture of products, machinery and household goods that lasted well into the 80s. In Kuwait, the lifeline product has to be oil, but did you know that the investment sector (services) now accounts for the #1 source of revenue for the state? Awesome.

3). Products and services together
Call it the “servicisation” of products. The blending of markets causes this to happen often. Consider purchasing a cell phone (product). Can you operate it without Zain’s service?

4). Events
Hala February, Gulf Cup and other sporting events are, well, events that can be marketed. In fact, I am planning a marketing seminar of 150 people right here in Kuwait sometime in October.

5). Experiences
Theme parks, Desert golf course in Ahmadi, the Aqua park, Failaka Island are all experiences to be enjoyed and marketed. Their is a growing market for “experience industry” not here in Kuwait, but in concrete jungle of Dubai. Skiing anyone?

6). People
Celebrity marketing is big business, but hasnt caught up in Kuwait very well. While UK has its Richard Branson and the late Princess of Wales, Kuwait can boast some sports and entertainment personalities.

7). Places
Salmiya, with its vibrant malls, Gulf Road and horde of never ending eat joints is the place to be. A second contender could be Avenues. Irrespective who’s first, place marketing within Kuwait is virtually non-existent.

8). Ideas
The social good. Pay your Zakah (Muslim alms) on time. Drive with your seatbelt on. Speed kills. These are ideas that have benn promoted in Kuwait to a certain degree of success. Greater audience involvement and stronger legislation can make idea marketing a true reality.

There you have it! Eight “things” that can be marketed in any part of the world. For a warmer sense, I have trid to super impose Kuwait to this principle of marketing management. Each “marketable” comes with its own set of challenges, risks and rewards. 

Where does your business fit?

Keep learning

When I write about marketing, its not to shoot down someone else’s efforts or just for the sake of being the know-it-all wise guy who thinks all other marketing save one’s own sucks. All I hope is that people can actually benefit from my posts and implement changes to their marketing strategies.

I like Wataniya Telecome. They’ve been my company of choice (not really, I got em random) for some years now. What I like is their online recharge service. I can refuel my credit from my comfort zone, and the way the weather is out there today, it really helps.

What’s really sad is the way Wataniya ignores e-marketing. Its in a position to really leverage e-marketing and reach out to is existing customers for free (rather than annoy them via bulk sms). I do not know who handles their marketing, but it could really benefit by adding e-marketing to the mix.

Take their website. They have this really soft looking, corporatey website displaying video ads and graphics. Cool. Then this is the link https://das.wataniya.com/topup/recharge.jsp?lang=en where you have to insert your email and recharge your cell phone via debit / credit card.

The funny thing is: you can insert rubbish@rubbish.com and still move on to the checkout page! This shows the utter disregard the people behind the website have communication. Here you have thousands of customers (myself included) who willingly submit their emails and permit Wataniya to contact and sell to us. What does Wataniya do? Ignore us.

What should they do?
Send a thank you not to every email that is entered in their database
Establish two way contact
Sell to us once every 15 days

Email marketing is free.

C’mon Wataniya….you can do it. You have the people. You have the resources. Embrace e-marketing.

Till my next two cents, keep learning.

The reason I have made the shift to wordpress is the great usability and features that are available on wordpress that arent on blogspot.

I will continue to blog about the state of marketing in Kuwait and how things, in my opinion, can be made better.

Horrible marketing tactic by ford Kuwait!!

Recently, I got an email from a known spammer in Kuwait about Ford Edge and Explorer. Has Ford Kuwait become so desperate that they now hire third part spammers to flood inboxes in kuwait with unsolicited email messages? You know e-marketing has hit rock bottom when you see a fortune 500 company involved in spam.

What they should have done is emplyed ethical e-marketing practices such as email and social media to reach out to their potential customers. Perhaps e-marketing takes time to develop and therein lies the difficulty for many companies to consider spam as a quick alternative. Its fast (really fast), relatively cheap and no load for the client. Just hire an e-gun and fire away.

I bet the results must have been disappointing.