The other day, while on my usual review of trends and global economic predictions on trade, I came across this frightening set of statistics from the World Trade Organization (WTO). I was actually looking for some hope and I thought… not again… not after the International Monetary Fund’s predictions we talked about last week. I want some hope and freshness for by business. I want a fresh start in 2023 for my business after the pains of 2020, 2021 and 2022. I need some respite and not pains anymore. Without a doubt, I am sure this is how you feel when you hear the news about bad economy, increased taxes and regulations, worsening consumer income and everything that goes with it.
The times are leaving more worries than hopes by the day, the balance sheet is getting heavy with account payables rather than account receivables. Much more to pay than to receive, squeezing our profit margins while consumers expectations are rising and the cost of sales also rising with their expectations. The feeling is suffocating. I get it. Indeed, I do. The gasp for air when it seems like you are in an airless vacuum. I know, but let’s see what WTO is saying:
Hmm… though we concluded with the opportunities for 2023, this seems much like our engagements last week around some of the very difficult moments of 2022 taking cues from the IMF data…by the way, I want to thank all of you for the wonderful engagements. Some of the reactions to my writings were thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you.
Colleagues, by this time, you might be withdrawn and not wanting to read further. But I encourage you to take a closer look into the 7 points above. Let’s try to identify what I am calling the “Slowers” and the “Growers” of the predictions:
Slowers first: a) global merchandise trade is expected to slow to 1% in 2023 from 3.5% in 2022; b) Gross Domestic Product will decrease from 2.8% in 2022 to 2.3% in 2023; c) global trade will drop due to shocks- Ukraine war, oil and food prices, etc.; and c) merchandise export from CIS region falling. These correspond to points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 above.
Growers second: a) Middle East continues to see strong trade volume growth; and b) merchandise trade value sees increase. These correspond to points 5 and 6 above.
First of all, lets do a simple fraction here. We have 5 out of 7 predictions presenting a kind of gloom and doom scenario for 2023. This is 71.4% out of a 100%. It seems things are only getting worse by the moment with no end in sight. Especially as only 28.6% of the predictions present some kind of hope. Actually, a sense of hopelessness it seems. You may be right. But what if we looked at the 28.6% a little closer to see what might have caused this region to standout during the same period when all others had fallen. I thought about this and decided to dig a little deeper into the why of the success factors of this region and ask you to go deeper with me.
Let’s begin by looking at why the Middle Eastern businesses/ trade seem to be thriving in the midst of near global shutdowns.
Colleagues, I set out on a journey of inquiry and soon discovered three fundamental principles that drive business success and trade in the Middle East, especially the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt; and wanted to share with you the golden secret recipe.
First, trade is personal, and it is built on a generational bond of trust in the Middle East forged between sellers and buyers; a relationship and deep social connection nurtured overtime; and often maintained as social capital passed down from generations to generations. So, when people sell, they are not selling goods and services, they sell relationships- a deep intrinsic value in relationships; and when customers buy, they buy based on relationship. This helps businesses to understand the deeper pains and needs of their customers and to design personalized and authentic experiences for their users/ customers/ clients. Hence, loyalty between brands and customers is formed and nurtured into a flourishing relationship creating a stable and expanding market. This brings deeper meaning, purpose, and identity in trade, and so prosperity, irrespective of economic conditions. The customer feels committed to keep the relationship nurtured over time. Invest in personal relationship with your customers.
Second, fairness, negotiations and deeper transparency in trade are a must. Trust is borne out of fairness and transparency in every negotiation in the Middle East and there is nothing as powerful than a brand that can be trusted by its customers. It grows into stability and expands in loyalty and commitment. In every negotiation, in every pricing and offering, pay attention to clarity, details and transparency, laying all of the cards on the table. Treat your customers as partners as in a fair business deal. You will win their hearts and minds. After all, that is what marketing is all about, a quest to win hearts and minds toward brand loyalty. You might be thinking this is only possible in a small business. But there are multinational businesses in the Middle East that are thriving, aren’t there?
Third, companies in the Middle East are increasing their digital footprints as consumers buying preferences go digital. McKinsey research finds that the region’s consumers have embraced digital channels, and their spending is set to grow. But this is not unique to the Middle East. This is a global phenomenon. We spoke about this partially in our last discussion. According to statista, in 2022, the value of the global digital economy stood at $1.6 trillion (USD) constituting about 20.4% of global retail sales. For your business, this brings increasing convenience to your customers and reduces the cost of you doing business- warehousing, marketing, storefront, supply chain and transportation; all seeing significant drop in cost. In this age, you cannot afford to remain bricks and mortar. Adopting a digital strategy is a must. That is why, we bring you www.hobyclean.com; Africa’s discount marketplace coming soon. Download our HobyClean Customer app and be amongst the first to receive information and adopt our new system being developed now.
GHA; aka. “The Stuttering CEO”
CEO & Chief Design Officer – HobyClean
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