The most pertinent question asked in retail circles is: "Will brick and mortar retail survive in the Middle East?"
Industry watchers and analysts have raised this question and debated endlessly in almost every retail focused congregation or online article.
But, the necessary question is what do consumers want and how do retail brands win them in today's world full of choices?
Babyshop, is a leading children's retailer in the Middle East.
While Babyshop was well-known as a store, it wasn't known to be a brand that Arab mothers aspired to associate with.
With its newly introduced purpose of, "Celebrating Parenthood", Babyshop had an opportunity to consistently activate its purpose across the year.
Hence, the goal was to look out for occasions that enabled Babyshop to bring its purpose to life and win share-of-heart to win share-of-wallet vs. the other way around that was tending to be the norm in retail.
The Interpretation of the Challenge (30% of vote)
84% of Arab mothers, the primary retail spenders in the Middle East, prefer buying from brands that mean something. Even though discounts tempt purse strings, they prefer to buy into what the brand stands for, and then, buy into the products sold by the brands.
Mother's influence purchase decisions across typical households in the Middle East. Hence, most brands clamour for the attention of mothers. This is even truer in the retail category where mothers drive volumes and value. Brands and marketers are on the lookout for occasions to appeal to mothers.
So, Mother's Day is a marquee occasion, but it's also a cluttered occasion. Several brands appeal to the emotions of mothers, with a gamut of loving, celebratory and gratitude-filled messages, with promotions to “gift something” to mothers.
In a challenging retail category, with retailers clamouring for share-of-wallet with price-offs, how could Babyshop, a leading children's retailer, stand out?
The Insight / Breakthrough Thinking (30% of vote)
As a brand, Babyshop has always stood for being an ally in parenthood, with its brand purpose being “Celebrating Parenthood”.
Now, “Celebrating Parenthood”, in Arabic, directly implies “Celebrating Fatherhood”. Arabic, like a few other languages in the world, contains a variety of words that stem from paternal-centered roots.
The word “parenthood” (Al Obuwah) is one such word. Although, many Arabs have, over time, understood that word to mean both - father and mother - the word “parenthood”, in Arabic, actually translates into “fatherhood” in verbal usage. The Arabic word for “Parenthood” leaves the word “mother" out.
We confirmed this with linguists across UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt (a market with institutions known for Arabic literary credentials)
Like parenthood is an equal responsibility, giving mothers an equal place in the Arabic word for "parenthood" was ours.
So, we set out to act vs. advertise on Mother's Day.
The Creative Idea (20% of vote)
There was no Arabic word for “parenthood” that included or implied "mother".
Despite Saudi Arabia and the Middle East are evolving when it comes to women's rights and equality, the word for "parenthood`" hasn't evolved.
So, we did something no brand ever attempted.
Working with linguists, we created a new Arabic word, giving equal importance to both parents, putting "Mum" into "Parenthood".
Introducing: AL UMOBUWAH. A word that means "Motherhood AND Fatherhood".
Instantly, it sparked positive support but also, negative hostility.
43 Arabic female and male Influencers joined us to endorse the word, engaging with negative commentators.
And leading Arab media voices supported the word and its inclusion.
Online, we launched a new children’s collection, that also featured in regional fashion shows.
Interactive audio-based experiences, created more familiarity.
Children learnt the word across Arabic schools.
Babyshop published an Arabic magazine, titled Al Umobuwah.
The word featured on Arabic poetry platforms.
The Outcome / Results (20% of vote)
Tapping into the Arabic language was a daring strategy from a children's retailer. And amidst backlash and negative sentiments, pre and post launch, from people and from media, Babyshop remained brave and stood true to its strategy and ambition.
Leading Arabic news channels and talk shows endorsed the idea.
The word earned 400,000+ mentions on social media alone.
2.3 billion earned media impressions.
Endorsed by popular Arab media voices, reached 220 million people regionally (92% of people across 6 key markets).
$4.5 million earned media and rising, across leading regional news and mass media online platforms.
And despite 50% negative sentiments in its first week, the word achieved 87% positive sentiments across 6 key markets.
With support, it also got published in an Arabic dictionary.
Cross-regional commercial impact (vs. period prior):
+27% brand buzz.
+32% brand love with Arab mothers.
+4% new customers
+2.3% wallet volumes.