Advertising & Marketing

Cheil 2016 Trends Report


At Cheil MENA, our observation skills, trendspotting and pattern recognition are MADE IN THE REGION. Although we keep track of global trends, we don’t copy them. Instead, we develop our own collection of trends that are happening in the MENA region. Right here. Right now.

The 2016 report demonstrates how our diverse and infinitely surprising region is moving from a thirst for fame towards making a difference. Instead of exhibiting narcissism, people are displaying humanity through more empathy, spirit of togetherness, and investment in emotional and physical wellbeing of the communities.

#1. Citizen Journalism

Who could have imagined that for ordinary people there are better ways to change the world than signing online petitions? Today we are witnessing citizen journalism at its best yet – powerful, influential and most importantly, constructive. Live-streaming apps, social media platforms, instant messaging and mobile phones have come together to amplify the impact of citizen journalism to an unprecedented strength.

When Istanbul Traffic Police Department accepts traffic violation notices from the public through WhatsApp a stronger sense of community is fostered. When Snapchat collects, curates and weaves together users’ videos under one theme, a vivid, multi-faceted and convincing story is created. Crowd-sourced storytelling elevates the role of an individual and empowers participation.

#2. Pets – Social Superstars

Instagram or youtube content featuring animals often becomes a social media sensation for a day or two. Globally in the past few years increasing numbers of pet owners have been creating online profiles for their pets, a practice known as ‘social petworking’. Unexpectedly, such practices are gaining popularity in our region as well, with pets’ profiles acquiring a significant social media following that surpasses their human counterparts.

Brands and advertisers like to team up with social influencers to gain reach and relevance. Pets are famous for adding elements of cuteness and comic relief – two powerful emotions in social media. Pooky is a cute puppy from Dubai whose Instagram account gained 1300 followers in the first week. Şero is a cat of the Republican People’s Party of Turkey who spreads sympathy and buzz through its own Twitter account. Does this mean we have just witnessed the arrival of ‘petfluencers’ in the region?

#3. Region on the Run

Running is becoming the most popular lifestyle sport in the region, now known as ‘social runs’. In 2015, 30,000 runners participated in Vodafone Istanbul Marathon, 13,000 in Nike’s We Run DXB, 7,000 in the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon. People run for a cause, for a challenge, for fun, for vanity, but most of all for being inspired and inspiring others. Mobile technology (such as Runtastic app) fuels the competitive spirit and a sense of community by opening up these events to much larger online audiences of supporters.

A number of sports, health, financial, insurance, telecom, automotive, food brands and non-for-profit institutions organize or sponsor runs. Advertisers have an opportunity to tap into this burst of positive energy in more innovative and creative ways.

#4. Controlling Time

The notion of ‘time is precious’ has never been more pertinent. Millennials, who will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2030, say they would rather have more time than money. According to a GfK study, 32% of them feel ‘time-crunched’. This feeling of being time crunched has led to the need to control time. They don’t have the patience for brands and services that give them a 4-hour window to get things done. They like to know exactly when something is happening to plan their time around it. 

Service brands, like Careem, BiTaxi, Deliveroo, tackle this need by providing a way of tracking the status of order for customers. Brands that give customers the power of being able to control time gain their loyalty.  

#5. Good Days for Strays

People in this region have developed quite a peculiar relationship with pets. It is not impossible to spot a cheetah looking out of the back seat window of an SUV; while other animal lovers cannot have pets due to ‘no pet policies’ of rental properties or transient expat lifestyles. At the same time, animal shelters are brimming with abandoned animals every summer. Such extremes intensify empathy among the public towards abandoned and stray animals. People are keener than ever to join and support animal welfare community groups of which there are many to choose from.

No longer are pet food brands the only companies partnering with animal welfare initiatives. Pugedo Recycling Boxes that dispense pet food in return for recycling items boost good-citizen habits and feed stray dogs at the same time. Gulf News lends its pages to the community with Save an Animal section. This highly emotional and engaging topic lends itself to anyone who wants to do good and create valuable content for their social media.

#6. A Picture or a 1000 Words?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But is it, really? Social media have trained people to consume and create content in quick snippets. The likes of buzzfeed.com and listelist.com present global or local stories in a funny, simple, and very pictorial way. No need to read, just scroll and watch. At the same time, according to Yahoo Maktoob, 25% of people in the Arab world ‘hardly ever read for personal enjoyment’; 30% of people under 25 in Jordan, Lebanon, and Algeria ‘hardly ever’ or ‘never read’. If this trend continues, imagination can slowly shrivel as people become immersed in screen technology and less interested in reading.

Leaders and communities challenge the younger generation to pick up a book and read. Numerous initiatives intend to bring back the taste for reading. In UAE, 2016 was announced as the Year of Reading. How will you contribute?

#7. Corporate Groupies

In 2010 Forbes magazine said: “Many companies use employees in ads to humanize their brands in tough times.” Today it is obvious that regardless of the economic situation, brands need to become more human to get the trust and interest of their audiences. Engaging employees in brand communications is gaining popularity. And as always, the Middle East region takes it to a new dimension, literally…, by creating ‘corporate groupies’ that convey pride, togetherness and achievement.

In return, both employees and consumers will expect stronger corporate responsibility, more prominent and human corporate culture, more empowered staff, faster response and more people-centric ways of doing business. This is why RTA and Ülker celebrate their anniversaries by thanking employees for their commitment and featuring staff in the creative executions of the campaigns.

#8. Circles of Trust

Mobile technology is blamed for ruining people’s social skills that negatively affect daily interactions and family gatherings. But the native digital generation finds a way to prove it wrong. Messaging apps are discovered as a modern alternative to a friends’ gossip or family dinner conversation. Thanks to instant and more personal group chats, uncensored updates and genuine feelings can be shared with those that really matter. To spice it up group admins find creative names for their groups. No wonder WhatsApp has become the most preferred social media in the region.

According to Northwestern University, only 12% of instant messaging users do not belong to any group, while 83% are members of friends & family groups. Will brands be allowed into these closed circles of trust? Ideas from brands like Samsung and Caramio prove that it is ingenuity and sincerity that can get brands in!

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