Marketing to Arabic Consumers: What You Need to Know

By Mohamad Chehade, PhD

While it may be true that we live in a globalized world where people are aware of and can recognize different languages and cultural codes, local still matters. People still care about what’s happening in their immediate neighborhood. Therefore, when you’re marketing to Arabic consumers, you need to take a localized approach.

In this article, we’ll explain some best practices for marketing to Arabic speaking consumers.

How Marketing to Arabic Consumers is Different from English Consumers
Before marketing to Arabic consumers, you need to understand that what has worked for English consumers will or might not work for Arab consumers. And by English speaking consumers, we mean global consumers since English has become the lingua franca.

So how is marketing different? In two ways, basically – language and culture.

The first hurdle you’re going to face is that of language. English is not the primary language in many Arabic countries. People do not get exposed to the English language unless they reach higher education or enter the job market. Thus, they learn English later in their life.

While things are changing with more and more Arabs learning English at an early age (along with the influx of foreigners into the territory), it’s not up to the mark where English becomes mainstream. Thus, your marketing and communication efforts should be in Arabic to make the most impact.

The second barrier is that of culture. Arabic culture is varied and largely different than Western or any other culture. Some experts call it conservative, while others call it inflexible. Whatever it might be, you need to adjust to the local standards.

Best Practices for Marketing to Arabic Consumers
Now that you know your global marketing strategies won’t be equally effective for marketing to Arabic customers, it’s time to know what might work. There are certain best practices marketing firms use to market to Arabic consumers or a localized demographic.

Understanding Your Arabic Consumer
To start marketing to any demographic, you need to go back to the basics. And the basics of marketing is to understand your customers. Also, don’t get blinded by the term “Arabic.” It doesn’t mean people are contained in the Middle East region. Arabic is widely spoken.

Arabic speakers can be found all over the world, including some in North America. However, Arabic-speaking people’s largest concentration is found in countries where Arabic is the official language (or one of the official languages), including 26 countries in western Asia and Africa.

Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia are the most populated Arabic-speaking countries. That said, Arabic is spoken in various ways. Thus, it is important to review your target audiences while translating an ad copy. This is because Arabic speakers in Detroit may interpret your ad differently than those in Dubai.

A 2015 Washington Post report on the future of language found that about 467 million people speak Arabic as a first language worldwide.

Focus On For Search
The search reveals a lot of things about the user’s requirements. Consumers are increasingly turning to search engines to find a solution to their problem. And search engines like Google will tell you precisely what consumers are searching for. And the best thing is they do so at a granular level.

As per a Think With Google report, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the main language used for online searches in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Arab consumers tend to have a formal conversation. They tend to follow a different format in terms of currency, number, and date.

So you need to craft marketing materials according to the language the Arabic consumers use.

Content Localization is Key
Content localization is the way of creating content that the local audience tends to read. This is important because 75% of consumers prefer to buy products that are described in their native language.

When you target an Arabic audience of a specific country, it’s best to work with local agencies to help localize your marketing materials. Good thing about local agencies is that you can use your existing content and don’t have to worry about creating a content from scratch.

Select Your Marketing Channels
Arab consumers use different mediums than Western audiences. This is because the internet and media censorship is rampant in Arabian countries. From time to time, companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Whatsapp have faced restrictions. Therefore, audiences tend to use other mediums for content consumption. You need to include these mediums into your marketing strategy.

According to a report, the popular social media websites in Arab countries are MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Microblogging and WebBlogs are also an effective channel.

Respect Religious Symbols and Local Laws
Another important thing you need to take care of is religious views and local laws. In fact, this is even more important than choosing the correct methods to communicate your messages.

For example, you can’t use Arabic as the primary language in any business dealings. The government allows Franco Arabic for use in marketing materials. You should also be extremely cautious when using religious symbols and wordings to accompany them.

Once you’re on the correct side of the laws, you should tweak your marketing strategy to reach the goals. With that said, Arab audiences offer a great market for you to penetrate and expand your business.

To sum up, it is essential to understand your target audiences – not only in terms of their tastes and preferences, but also their culture, language, and habits. This will help you connect with them on a deeper level, thus nurturing a long-lasting relationship.

So, what are you waiting for? Tweak your strategy and target your audience right. Are you feeling stuck? Apex Reach is here to help.

Global Insights
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