Power of Cultural Franchising

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Power of Cultural Franchising

By Nathen Mazri

Franchisors’ main concerns are brand governance and brand viability in local markets for maximum profits. Generally, upon applying for a master franchise of a particular territory, applicants submit their application form and business plan as supporting document and often the plan lacks the Communication Objective/ Strategy for the franchisee brand. What may work in USA does not work in Saudi Arabia, vice versa! Cultural marketing is important to reinforce the brand values in a traditional way that resonates well with the local market. McDonalds is exceedingly creative in launching cultural product innovations such as McArabia with pita bread in Middle East. In Canada, Quebec, you can replace your fries with Poutine, a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy.

Franchisee owners must consider the cultural behavior towards a product category such as tomato ketchup, video rental, or cupcakes and understand the customer perception towards every category. In Saudi Arabia, major franchisee outlets such as Starbucks, McDonalds, Dairy Queen and other international chains are segregated between men and women. The queue to buy a Big Mac by men was longer than that of the women and the queue to buy Mcflurry for women was longer than that of the men. I guess the women had more sweet teeth! A product that may work well in other markets may not work as well in different markets among different demographics such as gender, age, race, income level, and nationality. A billboard ad on the major street of Tahleyah St. in Riyadh could not display even a normal female if she is not fully covered. International fashion magazines could not show female skin or body parts and it had to be edited and colored in black if sold in Saudi Arabia.

The laws of advertising are very sensitive as well as the marketing P’s such as place, promotion, and people are the most crucial aspect that affect a brand in any region as they make up the most part of the brand culture and authenticity.

Franchisee owners must think as brand owners and not act as local operators but brand thinkers. It is a great sense of accomplishment to own a particular international franchise in your own country, but it is highly important to maintain the big responsibilities that come within the franchise system, which is proving the growth of the brand on a Glocal level.

In today’s cluttered mobilized economy where there are more than 3,000 messages a day we are exposed to on a daily basis from offline to online and in our palm of our hands, one of the best marketing practices to apply is digital marketing in a direct strategy. Know where your customers are online and on mobile and create maximum exposure in that platform. Mr. Sub, a Canadian QSR selling premium subs in Canada since 1968 in Toronto sub-franchised its master franchise for Middle East territory to Veyron Investment opening its outlets in Dubai Healthcare City, International City, and up to 5 more outlets by the end of the year 2016.

Mr Sub Middle East based in Dubai, Sam El-Masri, President of Veyron Investment realized that 25% of the total revenue is generated from online food delivery websites such as talabat.com and 24h.ae. Therefore, Mr Sub has created a digital marketing strategy to maximize its exposure on these major platforms via email marketing, homepage banners, skyscraper banners and other advertising opportunities for one year increasing brand awareness by more than 50% among the website users on monthly basis. Before Dubai, Saudi Arabia ranks as the first country in the world that youtubes given there is extreme boredom in the region due to limited leisure activities because of religious reasons and it is the third in the world that tweets.

A Saudi prince taught me how to use Instagram while eating Saudi dish “Kabsa” with my bare hands on the floor! Who would have ever guessed?


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