KUWAIT - Telecoms & IT
CEO, M2R Group
Shadi Al Samad holds a BA in economics from Balamand University of Lebanon. He has over 20 years of experience in management, marketing, sales, and negotiations across well-established organizations.
How has accelerated digitalization impacted M2R?
There is no denying that digitalization has become a vital aspect of every industry. Those who resist the change are setting themselves up for a difficult road ahead, as it will become increasingly challenging to integrate their products and services if they are not digital ready. Since the static business in Kuwait was negatively affected, there was an increase in our business and online advertising. Digital transformation is a core value of M2R Group, something that we strive to achieve every day. Our digital solutions department has tripled in size compared to 2019. The perception of advertisers of outdoor digital screens is different from static. Clients have the ability to be innovative when they work with us and can choose animation and the like. Our existing clients are also reducing their use of static advertising and increasingly use digital options. COVID-19 helped accelerate this growth. New clients have decided to work with us because of the new market trends the pandemic help spearhead.
What are your plans to expand in new markets?
The goal was to expand M2R in different countries, but we have concentrated more on internal expansion due to regulations after COVID-19 and travel constraints. We later proceeded to expand in Lebanon, which was an enormous opportunity. We have finished the full setup, but there are some challenges due to the economic situation in Beirut. The project is ready, and we had a discussion about it recently. In Qatar, we do not have plans. There were some opportunities, but we will wait for after the World Cup to judge the situation. We have a plan for Saudi Arabia too, and negotiations are underway to achieve an affiliation with a significant player in the Saudi market. It wants to come to Kuwait, and we want to enter the Saudi market.
How have you leveraged on changing consumer behavior?
The pandemic has been a major learning event in our lives. One obvious trend that developed due to the pandemic is the work-from-home culture, which is still prevalent in many countries, and some organizations have even made it permanent. Although not that prevalent in Kuwait, it is still an option now; hybrid models are even being explored. One positive side effect of all this is the increase in e-commerce activities, which is buoyed by the 99% internet penetration in the country. The uptick has continued even after things returned to normal, which has forced every organization to invest in digital or lose out on their market share, especially B2C platforms. We have a department specializing in data, and with targeted advertising algorithms, we can categorize audiences according to nationality, gender, purchasing power, and even the applications they use. Through our systems, we are able to provide a better advertising service to our clients and grow as the major digital media advertiser in the region.
Can you tell us more about moving into digital sector?
We are the only outdoor supplier with a Chief Marketing Officer. We have a marketing and development section that keeps track of local and global market trends. We are the only company that owns its own mediums. We are also the oldest and largest media rep in Kuwait. We believe in investing in development. We are proud and confident in our product enough to give data away for free; which no one else would do. M2R Group has always prided itself in putting the right media ROI for the client as the top priority in any dealing. Our USP is the 360 media solutions we provide our clients that complete the media journey for their consumers, something few others can boast of. We have exclusive representation rights with our partners, which sets us apart from the rest. However, perhaps our biggest distinguishing factor is that we work with our clients as partners and not suppliers; their success is our success.
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