Street style at Milan Fashion Week fall 2019

MILAN Have you ever considered creating an in-store meditation room for your customers? Or, are you developing specific social media and digital marketing content directed to the Gulf countries?

During a seminar organized by Global Blue and the Montenapoleone District association here on Monday, Abdelaziz Aouragh, founder of Amsterdam-based marketing agency PureSafy, focused on Muslim consumers and highlighted the increasing importance for luxury brands to develop specific retail, communication and marketing strategies for the travelers to Europe from the Gulf countries, who are keen to shop for themselves and their families while vacationing.

With 55 percent of the population living in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman being in their 20s, the Gulf countries seem to be one of the most promising markets for the further development of luxury brands.

In particular, data provided by Global Blue highlighted that in the first quarter of 2019, Middle Eastern tourists’ tax-free purchases in the stores located in Milan’s Golden Triangle luxury shopping district spiked 56 percent compared to the same period last year and the value of the average purchase, standing at 2,339 euros, rose 17 percent.

According to Global Blue Italia partner relationships and marketing manager Antonella Bertossi, these significant increases are related to favorable exchange rates for Middle Eastern customers, as well as to a more stable political situation in the Gulf.

Aouragh also noticed that Milan, like other growing destinations for shoppers from the Gulf including Turkey and Bosnia, can take advantage of the fact that Paris is currently considered unsafe due to the “yellow vests” protests and that London “got lazy and didn’t invest in activities to continue to be appealing for Gulf tourists.” In addition, he claimed that customers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are boycotting Harrods, which is owned by a Qatar sovereign fund, due to the diplomatic crisis among the countries.

How to guarantee these potential customers a satisfying shopping experience?

“It’s crucial to be aware of the cultural and religious habits of these travelers,” said Aouragh, highlighting that, for example, the creation of a meditation room where Muslim customers can perform their Saalat prayer ritual could help create long-lasting relationships with Middle Eastern consumers. “It’s also very important to consider the Islamic religious calendar,” he said. “I recommend not offering them coffee during Ramadan.”

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