Cheap is chic, Desmond tells Lynx delegates

Cheap is the new chic, said the global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group as she unveiled the results of an international survey into consumer habits.

Laura Desmond, speaking at the Dubai Lynx festival about the urgent need for agencies to adapt to the changing commercial landscape, said the Intentrack survey had identified a worldwide demand among consumers for discounts, promotions and extra-value offers. In Poland, for example, there was recently a 180 per cent rise in redemptions on beer vouchers.

A similar behavioural study focusing on the Middle East and North Africa has been commissioned and early signs are that the region is mirroring this global trend of prioritising price over quality.

“Our role will be vital in building, rebuilding and reinforcing product reputations,” Desmond told delegates. “These trends will definitely shape the new marketplace we have to face.”

The challenge for agencies, she said, was to create and leverage human experience, be innovative and assimilate digital offerings into networks rather than treating them as separate divisions. Digital is estimated to contribute around 20 per cent to agency revenues at present but she expects this to grow to 35, and even 50  per cent in some sectors involving technology and youth. In emerging markets such as the Middle East, the growth of digital will be accelerated, she predicted.

For agencies, the pace of change is so fast that revolution, rather than evolution, is required, said Desmond. But how many agencies in the Middle East are ready for revolution?

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