CMO Council

November 02, 2009 08:00 ET

CMO Council Inaugurates New Advisory Board and Member Chapter in the Middle East & North Africa

Chief Marketing Executives From Regional Companies and Multi-Nationals to Lead New Initiatives Aimed at Raising Marketing Standards and Advancing Regional Knowledge

DUBAI, UAE--(Marketwire - November 2, 2009) - The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council -- a global group of 5,000 senior executives controlling more than $125 billion in marketing spend -- is expanding its reach and presence in the Middle East and North Africa with a new advisory board and assessment of marketing credibility and effectiveness in the region. The geography includes more than 20 Arab-speaking countries and some 200 different nationalities across diverse countries, cultures and population groups.

CMO Council Advisory Board members include senior marketing decision makers from 3SC Technologies, Al-Futtaim Automotive Division, Almarai Company, Bloom Properties, Citibank, Etihad Airways, GBS Group Holding, HSBC Bank, Jumeirah Hotel Group, MTN, One97 Communications, Saudi Telecom, Schlumberger Information Solutions, Sony Ericsson, and Western Union. Chairing the MENA advisory board will be Mohammed Al-Tajer, Vice President & Cluster Marketing Head for the Global Consumer Group of Citibank in the MENA region.

"We have assembled a highly experienced group of senior practitioners in the MENA region," noted Al-Tajer. "We plan to have a very active and engaged team that will help develop CMO Council program initiatives, authority leadership platforms and advocacy positions. In particular, our group will forge close links with the academic community so we can influence and shape the marketing curriculum to better prepare students for a more digital, analytical and multi-channel marketing environment," he added.

The first meeting of the MENA Advisory Board was hosted by CYVIZ in Media City, Dubai on October 12. A number of important initiatives were mapped out for implementation in 2010:

--  Address key issues facing marketers in the region; leverage the
    knowledge and expertise of veteran marketers to advance insights and
--  Work with universities on creating programs that will improve the
    quality of marketing/business graduates.
--  Improve thought leadership in the region through the encouragement of
    the marketing professionals to produce related studies.
--  Reach out to business schools and enroll as many marketing professors
    as possible in the CMO Council Academic Liaison Board.
--  Create opportunities for board members to speak and represent the CMO
    Council on university and college campuses, as well as at professional
    conferences and summits.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have long been considered a region of opportunity, but one that is challenged by cultural and religious complexity, volatility, and political uncertainty. With a gross domestic product approaching $1 trillion, an expected GDP growth rate of just under six percent, and a population of over 313 million, there are bright prospects for growth and market development, reports The World Bank Group.

The 16 countries in the Middle East have nearly 42 million Internet users and Arab-speaking countries in North Africa, including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Tunisia, already make up half the top 10 digitally connected markets in Africa with over 27 million Internet users.

The CMO Council is conducting a benchmark Rate the State of Marketing in the Middle East audit to gain insights and views from senior managers at MENA companies. It has already surveyed more than 200 multi-nationals on their Perceptions & Intentions in the region. Initial findings have been shared with advisory board members and are attached.

Discussions and interactions at the inaugural board meeting included:

--  Putting the MENA region on the global marketing map; growing knowledge
    and understanding of the region's enormous potential, sensitivities and
--  Addressing and satisfying the diversity of nationalities (over 200 in
    Dubai, alone), ethnic groups, and religious norms in the region.
--  Accommodating the huge disparity between different socio-economic
    groups, plus migrant worker and multi-lingual considerations.
--  Finding good regional marketing partners and sourcing, cultivating and
    keeping new talent.
--  Need for a rigorous training program in tandem with local universities
    to produce marketers that have relevant skills and the right strategic and
    business mindset.
--  Deficiencies in media reporting and lack of accurate and available
    audience numbers and circulation figures in the region.
--  More effective use of market data and customer analytics for decision
    support and marketing effectiveness.
--  Better integration of people, process and technology; addressing big
    gaps between business requirements and IT capacity to address it.
--  Need for better interaction and integration between IT and marketing
    groups; oil and gas companies tend to be the best at this.
--  Trust as an essential ingredient in doing business in MENA. Personal
    credibility tends to be more important than company credibility, which, in
    turn, is more vital than product credibility.
--  Relationship marketing requirements in the region require longer go-to-
    market cycles and more patience in gaining momentum and uptake.
--  Strategies for penetrating closed and conflicted markets in the region
    - Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, Tunisia, etc.
--  Understanding how governments and para-statals work is vital. The big
    concentration of market power with large holding companies and
--  New marketing technologies and new ways of doing business are being
    embraced, but more slowly in the region.
--  Censorship and regulation are factors that have to be accommodated and
    understood, as well as factored in to business and marketing practices.
--  The need to adapt and customize products for the varying requirements
    of the region; too few multi-nationals have products developed exclusively
    for the localized market.
--  Strong areas of competence in the region include experiential, event-
    driven marketing, mobile messaging and multi-cultural communications.

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide-range of global industries. The CMO Council's 5,000 members control more than $125 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include over 12,000 global executives across 90 countries in multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), Brand Management Institute, and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME).

Select Findings from CMO Council's Middle East Perceptions & Intentions Survey of Multi-National Marketers

Nearly 200 respondents from companies represented across all industry sectors:

--  52 percent do business in MENA
--  49 percent expect to enter the market in the next three years
--  65 percent of those doing business in MENA entered the market more
    than five years ago
--  34 percent entered within the past three years

Most successful and receptive markets are seen to be:

--  Dubai
--  Saudi Arabia
--  Abu Dhabi
--  Egypt
--  Qatar
--  Bahrain & Kuwait (tied)

Top 10 markets in which multi-nationals sell:

--  Dubai
--  Abu Dhabi
--  Egypt
--  Saudi Arabia
--  Qatar
--  Oman
--  Kuwait
--  Bahrain
--  Morocco
--  Jordan

The Good News:

--  57 percent of marketers expect to increase marketing budgets in MENA
    and 36 percent see no change in their spend.

The Bad News:

--  72 percent spend less than $1 million annually on marketing in MENA.

Compared to the ROW, marketing spend in MENA over next three years will be higher or on a par with investments in sub-Sahara Africa and South America.

What are some of the impressions?

--  Volatile market, payback questionable.
--  Promising market to do business in.
--  Difficult to enter and risky from an HR perspective.
--  Levels of quality and efficiency questionable...and price
--  Interesting market for certain products and services.
--  Strong potential; would like to visit opportunities in the region.
--  Requires an insider approach.
--  Still very immature, yet fast growing.
--  Very important, can turn into a high-value market within a short span
    of time.
--  This part of the world is very important to the overall global

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