The United Arab Emirates have always been well known for the rapid expansion of its retail sector. Given the rapid growth of population as well as the growing popularity of UAE as a tourist sector, it is not surprising that clothing and apparel have become one of the leading retail sectors and the major sources of financial profits in UAE economics.
The promising economic future as well as the improving living standards and welfare of the newcomers make it possible for famous international brands to intervene Arabian markets with the aim to expand their market presence and to improve the quality of their international performance. However, not all international brands readily embrace the specific features of retail markets in UAE. The two examples of Marks & Spencer and Bhs reveal the hidden inconsistencies and factors that may predetermine companies’ success among different groups of consumers in UAE.
In this context, and in the light of specific cultural, climate, religious, and economic / political traditions, Marks & Spencer seems to have been more successful that Bhs in its striving to conquer the hearts and minds of consumers in UAE, and where Bhs finds itself in the process of continuous market research, Marks &
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International companies are well aware of the specific and at times sophisticated requirements which customers in UAE have towards different kinds of apparel and clothing. These demands and their specificity are justified and predetermined by a unique set of cultural and religious traditions, which make some of the products suitable for European and international markets non-suitable for the markets in UAE. That is why any company aimed at conquering Arabic markets tries to look deeper into what customers expect to receive for the price they pay for a product under a well-known brand name.
Marks & Spencer was probably one of the first to grasp the unlimited opportunities of retail markets in UAE, providing local and international customers with a unique range of apparel products for men, women, and children. It should be noted, that Marks & Spencer has not only chosen the design of its products to fit it into the set of cultural traditions in UAE, but has been wise enough to develop close cooperative ties with local retailers, to make its market expansion easier and more cost-effective.
True, “The world’s first Arabic Marks & Spencer signboard was put up in the Dubai store, located at the Al-Futtaim Centre in January 1998 by His Highness Sheikh Mohhamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence – UAE” (Marks & Spencer 2009). As a result, close cooperation with local authorities and the product range specially developed for Arabic markets have become the starting point of Marks & Spencer’s success in UAE.
Marks & Spencer’s website in UAE provides customers with a wide range of clothing products which can satisfy different tastes but simultaneously seek to satisfy special needs of Arabic consumers. For UAE, Marks & Spencer offers a unique combination of European charm and Arabian modesty, which altogether shape a wonderful impression of high quality and dignity, which Arabic and international consumers can purchase for a reasonable price.