Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube – Shoppers from around the world confess to using it all to first shop and then to market Dubai to the world during the Dubai Shopping Festival 2015
By Raziqueh Hussain
DUBAI — 182,100 likes (increasing by the minute!). 37,691 are talking about this. These numbers (at the time of printing) are from the official Facebook page account for the Dubai Shopping Festival 2015, under the umbrella of the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment. With the Dubai Shopping Festival on in full swing and the estimated $650 billion holiday shopping season square in the sights of marketers and retailers, all eyes are on the maturing power of social media to drive holiday shoppers to stores in Dubai.
According to research from US-based digital marketing platform Offerpop, 67 per cent of marketers plan to increase their social media budgets this holiday season in Dubai. Brands also appear to be sticking to proven social media platforms, with 92 per cent of marketers saying they will spend the majority of their budget on Facebook.
If you visit the official site of DSF www.mydsf.ae and click on the social hub page you would know just how popular the festival has become worldwide. As it happens with social media the numbers vary on a daily basis but by the end of the 32 days last year DSF reached 101, 716 interactions and 15, 905 people were be talking about DSF on Facebook. On Twitter it received 2,339 mentions, and 30,370 likes on Instagram. This year #MyDSF hits on various social media platforms is estimated to double!
The use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube has many visitors flocking to the shopping hub this month for the 32-day shopping extravaganza which is on from January 1 to February 1.
This year, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), DFRE had launched a massive international marketing campaign to promote DSF 2015 under the marketing slogan “20th Anniversary – A Journey of Celebrations”. The first phase of the promotional campaign targeted the key markets of China, Russia and India with the marketing momentum being carried over to other markets including countries in the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to promoting DSF to the local audiences in the UAE and neighboring countries.
Commenting on the marketing campaign, Laila Suhail said, “The campaign aims to showcase the fact that DSF has grown from being just a festival where one merely visits to make purchases or pick up bargains to a destination where people can actually be thoroughly immersed in, as they shop and make their personal choices whether it is shopping for electronics or food or even for entertainment or hotel accommodation. The slogan pays tribute to DSF shoppers as they embark on a journey of personal transformations, starting from what they want to experience to what they want to be.”
According to TINT, a San Francisco based technology company which has moved into Dubai recently, 88% of the online population in the Middle East uses social networking on a daily basis – that’s the highest in the world! 36% of Middle East online users are aged between 18 and 24 years –per capita this is the highest number for a younger and more tech-savvy audience.6.5 million users from the Middle East are on Twitter; 3.7 million are active users producing about 10 million tweets per day.
UAE has the highest LinkedIn penetration with 1.6 million users: A number that has increased by 45% in only one year. So it is no wonder that The Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, launched a social media campaign earlier in 2014 to capture the essence of Dubai. The residents and visitors of Dubai were encouraged to share photos and videos through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #MyDubai – to show the real and human side of Dubai.
#MyDubai has been tagged in Instagram photos over 1.5 million times, in this month alone, #MyDubai has been tweeted over 27,000 times. There’s a dedicated Twitter account and an Instagram account for this campaign – or you can go to hashtagmydubai.com where all the Instagram, Twitter and Facebook mentions are aggregated into one area for easy viewing.
Paul Spencer, a resident of Dubai who uploads images of the shopping festival daily says, “Dubai is one of the world’s premier tourist hotspots and with residents mostly expats, I feel it is a nice way to showcase what is happening here daily to my friends back in the UK. Not only can I show them the culture and lifestyle of Dubai but also get them to come here and enjoy the sun as well as enjoy shopping during this time.”
Nishita K an active Indian blogger says, “After I came back from our vacation in Dubai, all the questions from my friends seemed to surround on the shopping there. How was the shopping? What did you buy? Which malls did you visit? How were the prices?” she laughs, adding, “The one thing that I noticed about Dubai that really stands out in terms of shopping is the use of social media. Almost every store (and attraction) advertises its hash-tag very prominently encouraging people to take ‘selfies’ in their clothes and instagramming or tweeting them. In fact, Dubai itself has its own hash-tag advertised prominently everywhere. I don’t know if this is a worldwide thing or not (it’s definitely not the case in India), but everywhere I saw people were taking selfies using one of those smart phone extenders, and posting on social media.”
She further opines, “I couldn’t help thinking what a fabulous idea this is, and wonder why stores in India aren’t getting in on this trend. These shops are missing such awesome free advertising, all they need to do is create a hash-tag and advertise it everywhere in the shop for people to use.”
For Ginny Thomas from US doing the rounds of all the malls and checking out the fabulous discounts was overwhelming so she tried on a few sunglasses and posted the pictures on Instagram to take opinions from her friends and family. “I posted nearly four pictures, standing in front of the red and green shopping bag – the symbol of DSF and wanted to know which one of the shades looked good on me. I chose two instead of one after much brain-storming because I know I won’t get this kind of deal back home plus a chance to win AED 1 million a day! Boy, tell me where else could I get this lucky?” she asks.
Murtuza Mallik from Pakistan came to Dubai after seeing a couple of DSF ads on Youtube.com street entertainment. “I was completely mesmerized with seeing so much of fun that too on the streets. In Pakistan I would never get a chance to see jugglers, fireworks displays and stilt walkers so for me this visit has been worth it and it is more fun to see it live than on video,” he says.
‘How do I look?’ Victoria B from Italy, posts on her Facebook page during the Venice Carnival at Mercato Mall. She gets more than a 235 likes, so she decides to buy the branded blazer and boots. “Getting a friend’s advice on a new piece of clothing, or even a new car, is all part of the shopping experience for me. I’m in Dubai for only 3 days but my full bags are enough to last me the whole year. It is a compliment to Dubai because I come here from the world’s fashion capital!” she smiles.
This year Market Outside the Box (South Ridge Park, Downtown Dubai) has the social media abuzz especially in Western Europe. “I have been tweeting religiously about Market Outside The Box (Market OTB) – the region’s first sustainable fashion and lifestyle marketplace featuring retailers operating out of stylishly refurbished shipping containers – much to my delight as I’m looking to pick up a wide selection of sustainably produced fashion items, accessories, jewelry, shoes, bags, home décor, stationery and beauty products, in addition to organic food concepts,” says Daniel Muss, a musician from Slovakia. “I’m really excited about this and want the whole world to know that it is happening here in Dubai. My tweets have been re-tweeted more than 50 times this week and also reached the top-trends in one day in my country,” he adds.
Abdullah Al Mulla, a local visitor to the Gold Souk in Deira, was awestruck by all that glittering gold shops that he ‘whatsapped’ his friends to ask what’s best to purchase for his expecting wife and pat came many replies – The Dubai Gold Celebration Chain. “I’m getting an opportunity to purchase a piece of this record making chain, within exclusively branded packaging and with an accompanying Guinness Book of Records logo and certificate, during DSF 2015. I can’t wait to gift it to my wife and new-born,” he says enthusiastically.
Thanks to social media, this year’s DSF has turned into an unparalleled retail success that has helped put Dubai on the world map. So whether you friend, follow, like or share – one thing is for sure and that is that you definitely buy in Dubai!
Raziqueh Hussain is an Indian journalist and Editor of Brands Today