Global Perspective: Explorers Must Consider the Middle Eastern Market1 May, 2009 By: John Parkin, Response Contributor Response
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!" So the chorus goes. But the big question is, "Where to?"
Isn't it funny how history has a way of (almost) repeating itself? As you may recall, in the United States, when socio-economic factors started to put pressure on the populace of the East Coast, the cry was "Go west, young man!" Many heeded the call and packed up what little they had and made their way across the unknown lands that led to the Midwest and beyond, all the way to California. These were America's finest — the brave and courageous pioneers traveling to unknown places without any prior knowledge of what dangers or drawbacks lay ahead.
Of course, every rule has an exception. In the early 1990s, one of DRTV's pioneers went east. Kevin Harrington took the concept of TV shopping to Europe and opened up a path that many now follow. We were among those that followed in his footsteps, setting our sights on Europe and beyond to the Middle Eastern nations of Lebanon, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
In this present global economic climate, few, if any, territories, are unaffected by the damage that has been caused by the sub-prime market and subsequent financial fallout. However, every cloud has a silver lining. There are still some under-developed markets — little-charted waters awaiting the courage of the DRTV entrepreneur.
Go East! In the Middle East, with some care and careful planning the road is not as fraught with uncertainty as one may think. Here are some simple tips for those of you adventurous enough to give this largely untapped market a try.
1. Don't go it alone. Its essential you have some truly in-depth knowledge of the differing culture(s) that exist in the Middle East. Align yourself with partners that have an understanding of the business from both ends of the transaction, and are in the business of maximizing sales for all parties, not just servicing their own agenda, or filling up airtime
2. Don't assume the European model will apply. Just because the business is situated outside the United States, that does not mean it will follow Europe's oft-used "satellite channel" modus operandi. Although media costs are fixed and allow for better than normal ratios, retail pricing tends to follow American dollar prices, not inflated prices due to currency conversions. In effect, what sells for $1 in the United States sells for $1 in the Middle East.
3. Do remember that the back end is quite different. In several territories, it's COD — no credit cards. Just to make life more interesting, there are no courier or delivery services. And, of course, call centers as we know them don't always exist.
But in the true spirit of pioneering, all these obstacles can and have been overcome. The results if you get it right are as good if not better than in the early days of infomercials in the late 1980s through the 1990s.
The market is there for the taking, provided you really do have some one good and tough on the ground.
John Parkin is famous for the red bowtie and suspenders he wore when began hosting infomercials in 1989 for the automotive wax product, Auri, which was originally owned by Morty Moosavi. The duo have been in business together — and remained friends — for 25 years. They own Parkin Moosavi Intl. Ltd., a U.K.-registered company that brokers programming and products in the Middle East. Parkin can be reached via E-mail at email@example.com, and Moosavi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.