Today, companies in Dubai have the chance for their products and brands to face rejections from potential consumers, and that’s exactly the opportunity they want.
What’s exactly happening here?
What we’re talking about is a controlled simulation behind closed doors, one that puts brands and products through the wringer to produce the ultimate version of the product and consumer experience.
This has just become possible in Dubai.
Loft 36 launches in Dubai
Last week, Geometry, one of the world’s most iconic activation agencies, opened the doors on a new creative hub dubbed “Loft 36” in the flourishing Emirate.
This new dynamic office space is powered by data-driven research and shopper journey mapping, alongside a Geometry-built collaborative and interactive operating system for planning and ideation. The office also includes a purpose-built retail space for testing and fine-tuning of the agency’s creations.
In essence, this space allows the agency and its clients to collaborate on identifying and enhancing the pivotal moments that influence customer behavior. This culminated in the creation of two creative spaces: The Experience Room and The Geomart.
Nick Walsh, Managing Director of Geometry MENA, shared with AMEinfo some insights into the mindset behind bringing Loft 36 to Dubai.
Omnichannel is the future
Prompted by continued growth in the MENA market, Walsh feels that it was only natural for Geometry to open its own creative space in the Emirate. With the Dubai shopping experience becoming more omnichannel, it made sense.
“People now are going into physical retail and looking for ‘the experience’ – and the experience is still very strong here,” he said. “Then, they’re going online to buy, or vice versa, looking online and then going in store to buy.”
According to KPMG’s 2017 ‘The truth about online consumers’ report, the average ticket size for online shoppers in the UAE is among the highest globally, at $332. This reveals a tendency for customers to spend in-store AND online, which highlights the growing omnichannel trend.
Walsh continued: “[People] are looking for a more enhanced experience in both places.”
A 3-stage, 3-week process
Clients seeking to collaborate with Loft 36 will engage in a multi-layered process.
“The way in which we bring clients into the experience is through a 3-stage 3-week process which starts with the brief: we have a huge amount of backend data we can tap into,” Walsh noted. “We’re then able to plot journeys through our systems, and those journeys then help us optimize where the spend goes to clients and where we focus the spend.”
He continued: “Then, we have an ideation process. We can do this so we that can have the team in Saudi working with the team in Dubai or the team in the UK working with the team in Dubai, so it’s all a very fluid system.”
“We are then able to then take those ideas and test them in real-time in our store environment,” he said. “We have the Geomart, which is our real-time Bakala, where we’re able to then show the creative work – we’re able to take clients on journeys. We can test it there and then, and see the reactions to it.”
Modelled on a small grocery store, The Geomart is real life in a lab, where sensors record anonymously the attention, actions and choices of a purchaser’s behavior.
Serving the MENA market
Walsh explained that a majority of his company’s clients are FMCG brands (fast-moving consumer goods).
“We are doing a lot of work in Saudi with local FMCG brands. We take that thinking into lots of different channels… a lot of principles of purchase through to other categories.”
He explained that all their work is based on sales, especially given that one of the greatest pressures on brands right now is sales itself.
With that in mind, Geometry is focusing on the most basic of shopping experiences: the Bakala (mini grocery store in Arabic) trip.
This is where the aforementioned Geomart, one of Loft 36’s creative spaces, factors in.
So what technology is involved here?
Building hybrid creative spaces takes a lot of effort, time and skill.
The first of Loft 36’s two spaces, The Experience Room, is where initial research into the profiling of regional consumption trends and consumer intent takes place.
As a virtual interactive bubble, the Experience Room facilitates seamless agency and client collaborations. Fitted with an operating system developed in-house by Geometry, multiple teams globally connect to conceptualize the entire journey from touch-point to delivery, in real time.
“The Experience Room is technology that we have built from scratch, ,” Walsh said. The 3-stage 3-week hybrid process the company takes clients through is “a combination of programs we built from scratch, programs which we have repurposed, and others which we have licensed.”
He continued: “As for the Geomart, this is where the tech gets very interesting. Not only are we implementing our own technology, we’re also using it as a testbed for startups – retail technology startups,” Walsh commented. “At the moment, we are running pilots with a company called Solouq, to perform eye-tracking across different areas, and another one called Bakala, which put in place the EPOS systems.”
These are only 2 startups of many others working on what Walsh described is an “evolving testbed.”
Geometry’s ‘Loft 36’ can be found on the 36th floor of Al Sarq Business Tower, on Sheikh Zayed Road.