With its different culture, marketing ecosystem, and size of the market, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) have a huge potential that you cannot place this region behind your influencer marketing strategy. Consumer spending in the UAE alone is expected to exceed $261B by 2021 offering a huge opportunity for overseas expansion.
Moreover, the region experiences digital transformation with the increase in the internet, mobile, and social media usage in recent years. Statistically, 9 out of 10 Arabs use at least one social media platform daily.
This sudden increase in social media users then led to the emergence of influencers with a relatively larger audience. After the surge in the number of influencers, the advertising industry has started to zoom in on influencer marketing. The Middle East leads the GCC market with the highest demand from top paid influencers and brands.
But first, let’s get to know the region better and later we’ll give you tips on how to start your own influencer campaign starting from today!
#1 Influencers make a real-world impact
For millennials, influencers are the preferred choice when it comes to discovering new products. According to the study, 47% of women between 18-24 ages say online platforms are the main sources of information on brands and products. And 73% of respondents said they’ve purchased a product after an influencer mention, which is a strong number to show the social power of influencers.
For global brands, mega influencers are stars to expand into the region. Fashion, beauty sectors introduced worldwide known mega influencers such as Huda Kattan and Maya Ahmad. Along with launching her own brand, Huda Kattan also collaborates with leading beauty and fashion brands.
Dubai based beauty influencer Maya did numerous partnerships with famous makeup brands including MAC Cosmetics, Dior, Kiko, and Givenchy.
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The popular influencers effectively convert global brand promotion into the local context.
For its haircare brand Elvive, Loreal started long-term influencer collaboration with Dubai based lifestyle influencer Narins Beaty. She explains the features of Elvive products which allow growing long and healthy hair while using heat tools. She is very popular in MENA and always shown with beautiful and her long healthy hair and growing popularity among Gen Z makes her the best choice for Loreal’s #dreamlong campaign.
#2 Cultural diversity
Almost half of the marketers that work in MENA use influencer marketing and 94% find it successful for their brands’ marketing. However, influencer marketing in MENA differs from the Western market. Your influencer marketing campaign should be specially designed to the region’s culture and tastes otherwise you will end up with low KPI.
Content that allows the influencer creativity and freedom always wins in influencer marketing in MENA. According to the Mc&Kinsey report, the market is characterized by less loyal consumers who are always in search of affordable and substitute products. In this context, influencer marketing is a great way for global brands to enter the MENA market.
#3 Influencers are replacing TV commercials
Social media is viewed as trustworthy and it has overtaken TV as a source of information.
Marketing strategies that are cleverly designed to the market features are winning in influencer marketing too. Uber has an outstanding new-comer example of influencer marketing in MENA.
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Uber effectively ran the influencer marketing campaign by tailoring its brand objectives to Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic system. The goals were to grow the brand’s social media communication and build credibility. Together with the government’s support for the modernization of socio-culture, Uber’s campaign touched several hot topics such as women empowerment, entertainment, and employment. The long-term partnership with big size influencers drew high ROI and positive engagement towards Uber.
#4 Micro-influencers are more persuasive than celebrities
Micro-influencers especially are on the rise and gaining more online power. They have dominance in terms of the level of trust and therefore having more brand partnerships. Not surprisingly, influencer marketing is experiencing a shift from macro-influencers to micro-influencers as they generate more engagement and authentic content.
Besides, working with micro-influencers enables brands to reach multiple audiences with less spending. They are more relatable to their audience, therefore have more influence over them. Unlike celebrities, they introduce themselves as they are. As a result, YouTube stars became more popular than TV stars.
How to rock influencer marketing in MENA?
Local and global brands have done noteworthy collaborations with mega influencers especially on the beauty industry. Although influencer marketing is going crazy in the region, it requires different approaches. Here are a few of our tips:
Leverage Credibility of Micros
Despite its growing size, influencer marketing in MENA is an infant industry with lots of niches and influencers to be discovered. Credibility is a key component of micro-influencer marketing.
As marketing experts suggest micro-influencers are the future of influencer marketing. Even now, they have more engagement rates and profitability. MENA is not an exception. With a high level of engagement and authenticity, micro-influencers have the potential to increase awareness and bring new consumers. They are especially relevant for small budgets.
Target Gen Z
Gen Z population of the MENA region is rapidly growing and going to dominate social media platforms as well. Social media usage by Gen Z’s leads to the emergence of nano-influencers and the rise of micro-influencers.
One of the prominent influencer campaigns were run by Egypt’s Commercial International Bank. Considering that banking is not among the interests of Gen Z, that was pretty risky to take. So, to make it engaging for the youngsters the bank added popular dabbing fashion into the action. The campaign was calling young people to make changes in the New Year. The campaign ended with high engagements, almost all of the socially engaged users were asking about bank services.
Work with Experts
Even if you have done successful influencer partnerships before, the MENA market has a distinct nature and legal requirements to consider before diving into partnering.
The biggest issue brands face in influencer marketing is not having a clear view on how to find the relevant influencers and negotiate with them. BPG Cohn & Wolfe Influencers Survey revealed that 55% of brands’ biggest challenge was finding relevant influencers, and followed by 41% negotiating terms and conditions.
If you plan to enter the region you will need an expert consultancy to run an efficient campaign and to reach your target audience smoothly. Keepface gave assistance to many brands over the years, helping them to find the best fit influencers and to manage all the process from negotiating with influencers to reporting the success.
Choose the Right Social Media Platform
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have millions of active daily users in the MENA region.
YouTube is a destination for tech and gaming influencers, while fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle influencers choose Instagram. About 30K Middle East-based YouTubers have more than 10K followers. Video content is the highly preferred choice by lifestyle, entertainment, gaming influencer niches while photo content is popular among fashion and interior concepts.
With comprising 10% of the world’s Instagram users, influencers in MENA are mainly focused on Instagram. Social media users in the region are a vivid consumer of stories and videos.
And, of course, there is TikTok. From celebrities to TikTok evolving influencers the TikTok sees a huge surge in usage since 2019. Most influencers in terms of follower count are coming from UAE and Saudi Arabia mainly on comedy, acting, and fashion content. TikTok itself launched #CreateForGood and #TikTokCares campaigns with MENA influencers to educate people on tolerance and safety manners.
@salmansfamilyThree things to avoid at the beach ? ##tiktokcares ##pourtoi ##foryou ##couplegoals @isleym.b♬ son original – salmansfamily
Despite its differences with the rest of the world, the MENA region has a vibrant influencer marketing ecosystem. The population is hyper-connected and their personal experiences are more important than brands’ popularity. Therefore conducting authentic influencer marketing is challenging but rewarding. Here at Keepface, we’ve helped brands around the world by finding the right influences, creating and managing high ROI campaigns, and advising to build the right influencer marketing strategy.
If you’re looking to amplify your brand’s voice through influencers feel free to contact us.