Middle East: How luxury brands are delving into creators’ heritage to create diverse and emotive campaigns

Posted by Chloe James in Comment

12 months ago

When it comes to consumers ready to buy big, the Middle East is a (literal) goldmine. Thanks to a relatively affluent population – that’s also one of the youngest in the world – the region’s luxury market is set to see an annual growth rate of 8.5% over the next five years. For comparison, the entire world’s luxury market is expected to see a 5.4% annual growth rate in the same period.

The Middle East’s interest in luxury is nothing new. What is different, however, is the way that its residents shop. Earlier this year, a report from Business of Fashion found that consumers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE were splashing more money on fashion than ever. More than half of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest residents, and 30% of the UAE’s, spend more than US $12,000 (£9,670) on clothes each year.

Stats like this earned the region the nickname the “Next China” for luxury brands, leaving said brands scrambling to tap into the new market ASAP. A lot of this has been done the same way as any other region. Brands assign regional ambassadors, such as Djula with Ahood Alenezi, or they recruit mega influencers like Karen Wazen to style luxury pieces à la Prada.

But there’s one key tactic that luxury brands are using repeatedly in the Middle East. More so than in other regions, they’re recruiting creatives for collaborations that delve into their background and heritage – tapping into the huge diasporas present in the region.

Campaigns built around cultural narratives

Take Carolina Herrera, which turned to Lebanese artist Nourie Flayhan to illustrate an Eid Al-Fitr campaign to “highlight the strong family values” shared by both the holiday and the clothing brand, and to Saudi Arabian poet Amal Alharbi to pen a verse for the ad announcing its new oud perfume. Swiss jewellery house Piaget asked Emirati print designer Huda Al Nuaimi to create an exclusive print weaving together the history of the brand’s gold foundry and the rich cultural history of the Middle East. Egyptian artist and calligrapher Diaa Allam was asked to design an augmented reality experience taking viewers on a journey from New York to the Middle East for Tiffany and Co. The list goes on.

What these campaigns have in common – and what makes them so impactful – is that they all build a narrative around a creative’s culture. The Middle East is home to some of the countries with the highest percentage of expats in the world, particularly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE, which ranks first, with 88.13% of its population heralding from another nation.

Home and heritage become even more important when you live permanently outside of that context. Specifically constructing a campaign with this in mind does what any successful campaign does best: tapping into a specific demographic’s emotions.

The strategy has even been adopted by brands with zero presence in the Middle East to convert residents into consumers when they travel. Case in point: Harrods commissioned Allam to calligraph an Eid design for the department store. For luxury brands looking to reach consumers in the region, this is a tried and tested tactic worth noting.

By Chloe James, Middle East correspondent for CORQ. Picture credit: Nourie Flayhan via Instagram