How to successfully market brands in times of ever-changing consumer mindsets
Posted on 2024 May,24

What actions can a globally active brand take to remain desirable to consumers in times of change? Natalie Shardan, Managing Partner Serviceplan Middle East, uses the example of tourism destination Abu Dhabi to present four principles and explains how to thrive and resonate with consumers in an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment.

'Today’s marketplace is crowded. Consumers are being bombarded with many different options, making it hard for brands to stay ‘top of mind’. Our ever-changing world, the rapid market transformation and shifting mindsets all pose significant challenges for brand communication, especially for brands with a global outreach. People remember brands that talk to them, understand them and make them feel something. If a brand loses that, then its unique narrative will be forgotten,' asserts Nathalie Shardan, Managing Partner at Serviceplan Middle East. 


So how can brands keep up with evolving consumer expectations and gain a competitive advantage?

An exemplary success story from the UAE involves our client, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT), whose unique strategy enables it to be present globally while thinking locally.

In January 2022, it launched its global brand ‘Experience Abu Dhabi’ to raise awareness of the destination and attract more tourists, despite the challenges faced by the travel industry during and post-COVID. DCT effectively championed and promoted the city of Abu Dhabi, preserving its distinct heritage and culture while remaining relevant to a worldwide audience.

To achieve this, the DCT demonstrated its commitment to understanding the target audience by segmenting key markets, delving into cultural nuances and teaming up with local partners and ambassadors to personalise its approach. DCT is making significant investments in research to stay up to date with the latest travel trends and understand travellers’ behaviour.

Here are a few key examples that bring essential aspects of successful branding to life:

  1. From Abu Dhabi to the world and back: Right from the outset, all markets received content tailored to their specific needs, going beyond mere translation. Each market received unique material in its native language, which was personalised and customised for the channels commonly used in that region. Communication messages were carefully crafted to appeal to the desired target audiences, ensuring that the offer was as enticing as possible for potential visitors.
  2. Emphasising authenticity, especially for a destination brand: Abu Dhabi conveyed its rich heritage and historical significance as a destination, staying true to its core values. This approach eliminated any disparity between the promised and actual experience, fostering trust with consumers. This is particularly vital for a destination brand, where transparency and authenticity are paramount.
  3. In our recent campaign promoting Abu Dhabi as a summer destination under the platform ‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’, the brand struck a perfect balance by not making extravagant promises, but rather inviting visitors to explore an immensely captivating tourism destination. As a city, Abu Dhabi offers a diverse range of activities, ensuring unforgettable experiences for various target audiences, whether families, couples or people travelling on their own.


What can brands take away from this?

  1. Stay up to date with the latest trends

Rapid market transformations require brands to keep up with the latest trends and consumer preferences. Continuous monitoring of market dynamics, consumer behaviour and emerging technologies is crucial. Brands should be agile and adaptable, ready to adjust their communication strategies in line with evolving trends – globally and regionally.


  1. Personalise and customise communication

Personalisation and customisation are essential. Today’s consumers seek personalised experiences and communications tailored to different market and different cultures. Brands must invest in data-driven insights and analytics to understand their target audience better. Tailoring communication messages and content to meet individual consumer needs and preferences can enhance engagement and relevance.


  1. Stay authentic and transparent

Authenticity and transparency are also key, and are expected more and more from brands – along with genuine and honest communication that speaks to their values. Brands should prioritise building trust by being transparent in their messaging, sharing their brand story and showcasing their commitment to ethical practices and social responsibility.


  1. Practise storytelling and the power of emotions

Most importantly, brands should not underestimate the power of storytelling and emotional connection. Financial pressure is more challenging now than ever. While businesses are seeking the most effective and cost-efficient ways to target and convert consumers, they should not neglect or underestimate the potential of compelling brand stories that build emotional connections.


So, to conclude, successfully marketing brands requires a multifaceted approach, particularly in times of ever-changing consumer mindsets. As demonstrated by the unique destination brand of Abu Dhabi, brands must be memorable, relatable and emotionally engaging if they want to stay top of mind for consumers in today’s crowded marketplace.

As the marketplace continues to evolve, brands that embrace these principles will have a better chance of thriving and resonating with consumers in an increasingly dynamic and competitive environment.