November, 2017

The Tilt Towards e-Marketing

By Khawaja Amer

In terms of changing market trends, future markets will revolve around handy gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, etc. The market today is racing towards a new direction - a trend just unthinkable only a couple of decades back. It is definitely difficult if not impossible for the oldies, the conventional marketers to keep pace with the emerging market trends. Marketing has now turned into a highly personalized relationship between the marketer and the customer, because both with their smart phones, are just a call away.

Increasing Brand Consciousness

The middle class in Pakistan is expanding despite all the problems the people face in terms of law and order and the growing political uncertainty. There is rapid urbanization and the number of women in the workforce is growing. All this is leading to better disposable incomes. Convenience is said to be the deciding factor for the purchase of products and services. Even then, many people are increasingly becoming brand-conscious which is leading to changes in shopping habits. This is because internet access and mobile technology have increased and widened horizons and this has further empowered the consumer. An interesting offshoot is more online shopping and effective buying decisions.
The increasing brand consciousness of Pakistanis is attracting more brands to Pakistan, not just in terms of fast food, but also in clothing, shoes and other FMCGs. Many multinational companies have set up their manufacturing units in Pakistan or have expanded the existing ones to produce more brands. While the drugs policy in Pakistan is stringently controlled by the government, at times unjustly, it is true that many foreign pharmaceutical firms are expanding the local manufacture and sale of pharma products and also branching out into OTC (over-the-counter) products.
The market is also attracting more female make-up and personal care brands as compared to products for men. It is a pity though that despite the increasing urban population – some 35% - in a country of over 200 million, Pakistan is still behind India in the area of retail outlets for many American and European brands. One leading American cosmetics brand has some 40 retail outlets in India and not a single one in Pakistan. Even though India’s population in over a billion and the population of Pakistan is just one-fifth of that, the country needs to bring about drastic improvements in its retail sector. The news in the fashion clothing sector is better for both men and women. In fact, the market has also encouraged many local female fashion clothing lines to expand their offerings as well as their store networks or for new local brands to jump in.
Surprisingly, when it comes to fast food in Pakistan, the concept of “American is best,” reigns supreme despite the blow hot, blow cold relations between the two countries. Food is said to be the only entertainment in the country. Since people are frightened because of the law and order situation, they don’t go anywhere except to food outlets. Between 2008 and 2013, annual disposable incomes in Pakistan are reported to have increased by 23% and consumer expenditure by 24.5%. The retail value of the fast food sector was estimated to be growing by a robust 23.5%. In the middle of all this, the retail value of fast food chains in Pakistan is said to have grown by a very healthy 112%.
Affluent consumers in Pakistan do not frequent fast food restaurants. But US fast food chains are now enjoying significant growth as a result of the changing eating habits of the growing middle-class. According to a newspaper report, the Pakistani middle class has welcomed fast food due to the variety of bargain deals they offer in addition to their expanding menus, atmosphere, attitude and strict hygiene standards. The middle class now has more disposable income to spend at these fast food restaurants. Some lower-income consumers are also lured in by the fast food outlets through affordable meal deals.
A recent report in Bloomberg News noted that a chicken fast food chain in Pakistan plans to open an additional 40 outlets in the country over the next five years, expanding its current network of 64 outlets in 18 cities. Fast food investors say that Western brands have only just scratched the surface. One popular American fast food chain has announced plans to grow over the next few years by expanding into second- and third-tier cities such as Gujrat, Sahiwal, Jhelum, Sukkur and Khairpur, meeting the fast food needs of a whole new group of increasingly affluent consumers.
While the fast-paced expansion of the Pakistani middle-class will no doubt continue to drive significant demand for brands in the coming years, perhaps the greater factor will be the purchasing power wielded by the growing number of young consumers. Internet-savvy communication through social media networks and greater awareness of international trends and fashions is expected to drive a significant proportion of younger consumers to connect with their global counterparts and experience global brands.


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Javed Ansari
  Assistant Editors:
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Khawaja Amer

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Kashif Qadri
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Rohail Hassan

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