Is the New Middle-Eastern Shopper Sending Luxury Down the Silk Road?

06 Jun, 2017

According to Luxia, the Global Hotel Media platform, this summer will see a rise in Middle Eastern guests, who armed with a favourable ‘Brexit’ exchange rate and sophisticated tastes could give luxury brands the lion-share of overseas shoppers’ attention. With a worrying number of British retailers set to move into administration this summer; Jaeger and Agent Provocateur being just two, luxury brands are starting to review their approach to a growing segment of their revenue – emerging markets, and in particular, the discerning, sophisticated, and increasingly motivated Middle Eastern consumer.

Understanding your audience

A deeper understanding of this niche audience is ever more imperative for luxury brands. Recent events, such as decreasing oil prices, the tightening of anti-corruption laws in China, the slowdown of the Asian economy and threats of terrorism have all contributed to a dampened spend from emerging markets. But the exciting and fast-moving progressions of the middle-eastern fashion and retail scene are changing the shape, mind-set and tastes of the consumer, presenting opportunities for fast moving luxury brands.

Venturing beyond borders

Within a challenging retail landscape, the middle east is presenting a fascinating opportunity. Over the past year alone, multi-brand luxury retailer Boutique One has moved to London, cementing their strong links between Middle East and UK’s capital. YOOX/NAP have announced a strategic partnership with Alabaar to solidify their position in the region. Amazon has acquired Souk. Al Tayer has launched a luxury e-commerce platform. Vogue Arabia launched. MODIST disrupted the women’s fashion market with their focus on modest dressing for extraordinary women; business women coming to the fore.

The time is nigh

With the preferential exchange rate and the close of Ramadan on June 24, London is set to see a record number of shoppers on it’s highstreets and in it’s globally respected department stores. According to data from Luxia Global, the largest spike in middle-eastern visitors occurs in August, surrounding Eid-al-Adha – the second of two Muslim holidays which are celebrated globally. Luxury Hotels in areas such as Knightsbridge typically witness a 60%+ Middle Eastern occupancy throughout August, seeing a triple uplift from normal periods. With former hotspot France having shed some of its appeal amongst affluent Arabic travellers, this has only further boosted the number of Middle Eastern visitors to London.

What’s it all worth? 

So what does it all mean for luxury brands? According to research by Thomson Reuters & DinarStandard, the global market for Muslim clothing is forecast to be worth £391bn ($484bn) by 2019, and only set to accelerate in years to come. It’s never been more important for luxury brands to target these oversees shoppers. They need to set the wheels in motion to avoid a disingenuous scrabble to gain share of voice.

Luxury brands need to start strategizing before the rush of consumers hit London. They can do this by getting involved well ahead of time, by helping shoppers plan their trip, and targeting them in the first instance via social channels, airline magazines, and through the hotels they are staying in.

Perhaps a more meaningful way of targeting these valuable audiences is for luxury brands to work collaboratively with influencers in order to raise brand visibility and credibility within these more niche groups. First and foremost all successful brands will be clear on their key stories, their key points of influence, and how they make the most of advertising and word of mouth to communicate effectively with a multi-dimensional consumer.

If luxury brands are able to inhabit the mind-set of the Silk Road fashion innovators and appeal to the sophisticated businesswomen shoppers, the post-Ramadan successes can be vast. This comes from catering to overseas shoppers’ needs without condescension, and communicating early in the calendar, to build deeper, more relevant, and longer lasting paths of communication.