By Aisha Fareed
American brands stand tall in the Saudi market against international counterparts. Apple and Microsoft reign supreme in technology, and Ford, GMC and Jeep are at the forefront among car brands.
In fashion there is Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Nike, Gap, Coach and American Eagle.
Maybelline and MAC have a strong presence in cosmetics. As for food, McDonald’s, like anywhere else in the world, is widely popular among Saudi millennials.
“What I like about American brands is that they go viral around the world,” said Nada Al-Shehri, a Saudi student pursuing her master’s degree in the US.
“I think the reason behind that phenomenon is the way American brands represent the US in terms of diversity, independence and affordability. Those brands advocate for the American dream, which is still a widely accepted theme of the 21st century.”
A recent Arab News/YouGov poll found that eight in 10 Americans are unable to point out the Arab world on a map. But Saudis are quite knowledgeable about American culture via movies, music and products.
According to the YouGov Brand Index, the Apple iPhone ranked fifth in Saudi Arabia in 2016, while its South Korean rival Samsung was seventh.
Sameeh Qasem, managing director at the TIMA digital advertising agency, said American companies and brands know that the Saudi market is vital, massive and fiercely competitive.
“Brands need to always… prove their presence in the market to maintain their status in light of many international brands,” Qasem said, adding that big US brands should engage more with local influencers in the Kingdom.
“Many companies we deal with ask us to recommend local influencers to promote their products.”
Among several US brands that have used local influencers in their campaigns is Nike. In February, it launched a campaign that featured five Arab influencers, including Fatima Al-Banawi, a Saudi social researcher, artist and actress.
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