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Governance drives sustainable growth

As an executive director of the Pearl Initiative, Carla Koffel has been building strategic partnerships with the region’s private sector, government stakeholders and civil society organisations since taking charge last year.

The Pearl Initiative was established in 2010, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnership, as a non-profit organisation committed to raising the standards of governance in private sector companies across the Gulf region.

Today, governance is considered a vital tool that allows corporates and the economies they operate in to drive sustainable growth.

“With this goal of raising awareness among family businesses, SMEs, larger enterprises and listed companies, we aim to facilitate the governance dialogue in the Gulf region, bringing a focus on the value to business of continually improving corporate practices as well as addressing specific topics such as corporate integrity, diversity in leadership and improved reporting standards. Each of these areas of intervention individually fuels the overall improvement of the region’s business output,” explains Kofell.

“Another important facet of our operations include developing regional insights through case studies and research-based reports to assess industry challenges and trends associated within our specific areas. Moreover, we actively collaborate with universities to support the development of future business leaders by educating them on the benefits of corporate accountability and transparency,” she continues.

Brand promises are not made to be broken

In a world saturated with corporate competition, true brand authenticity grows scarcer with every passing day. Firms are becoming less value-oriented and more capital-driven; they are deviating from their mission and vision in response to a changing market landscape, and all too often, they are neglecting their brand promise and we are seeing that it is becoming increasingly acceptable for them to do so.

A company’s brand promise is its foundation. It is the link between the purpose, the position, the product, the strategy and the consumer. It is defining the customer experience of today and holds a company accountable for doing or providing what it says it will do or provide. Most importantly, a company’s brand promise plays a vital role in building strong relationships with its consumers and ensuring sustainable, long-term performance because promises matter to people.

However, despite the importance of an effective and well-defined brand promise in a company’s lengthy success, we are seeing that companies often under deliver or neglect their brand promise entirely in favour of convenience and short-term gains. But while many companies do not deliver on their brand promises, the strongest and most prosperous ones do, and the advantages of doing so are tangible. Overall, a brand’s authenticity really distinguishes itself from the competitors, and helps generate a positive perception, which is translating to a stronger consumer base on every level. So what do broken promises mean for the market and the brands themselves?

According to a 2015 Gallup survey, only half of consumers strongly believe that the companies they do business with always deliver on their brand promises. When we look at homegrown brands from the region, Emirates definitely comes to mind; it is a prime example of a brand that has delivered on its promise to be innovative, modern and a customer orientated provider of high-quality air travel, which it has conveyed since day one, and as a result it is known as a world-class airline.

Further, looking at the Meaningful Brands study published by Havas Media Group, it has found that only 32 per cent of consumers feel that brands communicate honestly about their promises and commitments, and just over half do not trust brands in general. These figures indicate the main consequences of neglecting a brand promise on the consumer side. When brand promises are unfulfiled this leads to broken trust, disengagement, and low retention – all of which are reflected in a company’s bottom line. For example, Domino’s had a troublesome promise when it came to their deliveries, which they realised later on. But as a result, it has dropped in most countries. Delivering on a brand promise is a direct reflection of a company’s transparency, which in turn generates trust and confidence in its consumers.

As such, when consumers believe that a company will provide what it has promised – both in terms of products and services as well as actions and experiences – they are definitely more engaged in the company’s operations. Therefore, engaged consumers are more interactive with a brand and have a greater degree of emotional investment, which together foster strength and organic growth for a company. When consumers are trusting and engaged, they are ultimately more loyal; and as any businessperson is aware, consumer loyalty is the essence of greater sustainability.

However, companies that do not deliver on their brand promises are giving up all of their positive outcomes, which produce tangible business advantages across the board. Consider: the highest-performing companies in Gallups’ database deliver on their brand promises 75 per cent of the time, according to their customers. These are the companies with a larger share of wallet, greater profitability, higher revenues and stronger relationship growth than their counterparts. They are the companies whose brand promises align with their vision and values, so achieving these promises occurs effortlessly.

For example, let’s look at the main technology brands of today who are living out their promises and providing converged technologies to customers. There is great trust in these brands and we are seeing consumers regularly coming back for more, and companies should be mirroring this strategy. Nevertheless, a company’s ability to fulfill its brand promise, is only possible with a variety of factors. Brand promises that fail are usually unclear, not distinct, or are inconsistent with a company’s greater purpose and culture.

If a company’s brand promise seems vague or too broad, consumers are less likely to know what they should expect from it – and in turn, they are more likely to think their expectations are not being met. Moreover, if a company’s brand promise does not set it apart from others, consumers have a harder time identifying where and how it adds value to their lives. Therefore, if a brand promise is not aligning with the company’s mission, vision, and values, it comes across as inauthentic, and we are seeing that this is detrimental to customer loyalty.

In order for a company to set itself up for success in delivering on its brand promise in the region, it must invest in consistent evaluation and improvement. A great tool is for companies to seek feedback from their consumers about brand perception and reception: do their customers truly believe in the brand’s dedication to its promise and how its promise seeks to benefit them? Companies should also monitor their performance in accordance with the changes they make. Most importantly, though, companies should approach the fulfillment of their brand promise from the inside out, training and engaging their employees to understand and execute it effectively. For instance, when we look at the telecom sector in the region, it must focus on its customer service and on delivering its brand promise to be a success.

The reality of the matter is that consumers don’t just buy products anymore; they also buy the purpose and vision behind these products. They are investing in companies and brands whose values align with their own, and they are prioritising the experience and communication associated with their purchases more than ever before. Therefore, an effective brand promise of today must extend beyond an outward-facing statement meant to look nice on paper. Rather, it must be a commitment to transparency and authenticity and a pledge to deliver the experiences and services that drive customer engagement in the long term.

DGCX to offer shariah spot gold contract

Meng Chan Shu, director of business development at DGCX, said that the exchange is looking at launching the Shariah Spot Gold contract as soon as possible and is also looking to add stocks and commodities from Far Eastern countries.

Gaurang Desai, CEO of DGCX, said that they have already earmarked a launch date for Sharia gold product, which will be announced in due course. “The launch of the Sharia gold product is of the utmost significance to us because a product of this kind is uncommon in the derivatives industry and we want to make sure that we do it right, and all efforts have been put in place to ensure that outcome,” Gaurang said.


Amlak completes its first property project in Mirdif

Amlak Finance on Tuesday announced the completion of its first fully-owned residential project in Mirdif.

The project consists of 54 villas and was scheduled for handover during December 2017.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of the Amlak’s first fully-owned residential development project in Mirdif. This project is a testament towards our forward thinking approach and further strengthens our leadership position in the market. Through such developments, we hope to continue to enhance the value of the UAE’s real estate market in addition to fulfilling our commitments to our financiers and shareholders,” said Arif Alharmi, managing director and CEO of Amlak Finance.

The Dh138 million development includes 18 land plots, with a total built-up area of 180,085 square feet. Each plot consists of three high-end townhouse villas, which have four to five bedrooms, private gardens, and parking facilities.

VAT: it’s business as usual in UAE

It was business as usual on Monday on the first day of implementation of value-added tax (VAT) in the UAE as the residents took the five per cent consumption levy in their stride.

Most of the groceries, cafes and shops in malls reported normal activity with residents and tourists shrugging off the small hike in prices.

Though there were some minor hiccups reported at the small grocery level with some of them having VAT charge hand-written on the invoices, all the major brands and companies seem to be fully prepared for a smooth transition.

In fact, some of the large group entities such as Landmark Group and Pure Gold have already announced that they would absorb the prices. However, many grocery owners said they still had the old stock so there was no change in the prices. The prices would be revised once the new stock comes in with VAT included in it.

VAT rings in a new era for UAE

From today, the way the UAE businesses conduct their day-to-day operations and the spending habits of residents will see a major shift as the UAE moves away from tax-free nation by levying a five per cent Value-Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services.

With VAT imposed on most of goods and services, some have been exempted and zero-rated, the government is projected to collect Dh12 billion in 2018 from the new tax and Dh20 billion a year later as more and more companies come into the tax fray.

Industry analysts and executives believe that VAT – which is the lowest in the world – will bring transparency and give credibility to UAE corporates. While impact on consumers’ spending trends will be very minimal because five per cent VAT will translate into around two per cent in terms of inflation on the consumers as some of it will be absorbed by the companies as well. Analysts believe that this sudden reaction is normal among the residents ahead of the implementation of VAT but people will get used to the new tax regime with the passage of time.

How vat will impact GCC mobile phone sales

The five per cent value added tax (VAT) is expected to impact GCC mobile phone market, which is already facing slowing demand and stockpiling, a global technology research and consulting firm said.

“There is already a large amount of stock left over in the channel from previous quarters, so distributors are not looking to increase their shipments in the pre-VAT weeks, with many even looking to vendors to reduce their targets for fourth quarter,” said Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at the International Data Corporation (IDC).

As for the anticipated slump in post-VAT shipments in first half 2018, the additional five per cent for VAT purposes will obviously have an impact on end-user prices, and as margins are already extremely narrow in the mobile phone space there will be little room to maneuver with regards to these increases, said Isaac Ngatia, a senior research analyst at the IDC.

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