Fashion Marketing in Arab World: Maintaining Brand Identity vs. Adaptation

Izzudin Busnaina


Purpose – the Middle East (ME) stands to be one of the fastest-growing markets and embodies a destination for fashion retailers. However, this promising market represents, arguably, the most misunderstood marketing territory in the world today (i.e., Arab/Islam). Therefore, this paper aims to determine the adaptation degree of the global fashion brands’ offerings in Saudi Arabia and identify how Arab customers perceive the fashion global brands’ personality and image.

Design/methodology/approach – in our exploratory research, Saudi Arabia was selected as a proxy of ME. We used structured interviews with global brands' agents in Saudi Arabia (i.e., GUESS, Levi’s Burberry and H&M), combined with a consumer survey.

Findings – The findings show that global fashion brands tend to apply an adaptation perspective to Saudi market, but that was not consistently across marketing implementations. Further, we found that some aspects of marketing adaptation produce undesirable influence in Saudi market; they caused differences between the perceived brand image and the brand personality that are promoted by companies.

Research limitations/implications – The relatively small number of global fashion brands available for the study. However, this paper provides useful insights for fashion marketers to design their marketing strategy to Arab markets based on a good understanding of buyer behavior and to avoid misunderstandings in such increasingly significant markets.

Originality/value – This is one of the pioneering studies that empirically investigate the global fashion marketing in Arab markets. Also, it contributes to understand buyer behavior of Arab consumers in fashion market and opening the way for further research in the other Arab countries.

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