Le Voile Couture is a boutique that specialises in selling Abayas. The shop is based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Le Voile Couture sells its Abayas in Dubai. Abayas are the UAE’s traditional female dresses, which are mostly worn in public. Le Voile Couture’s target audience is Women aged 18-35 years. However, the business gets customers outside the aforementioned age range since the product is worn by women of all ages in the country. Le Voile Couture is a small local business that is only operating in Dubai currently. It is located in ‘Galleria Mall’ in Dubai. Besides, the business acquires customers from exhibitions and social media platforms such as Instagram.
Le Voile Couture is a partnership between two individuals who operate the business at an equal share of 50%. The owners operate comfortably in a partnership, thanks to the short chain of command in the business. Therefore, it is easier for the owners to get their message passed down to the employees. They are operating in the Abaya market in the United Arab Emirates. However, they are aiming at operating regionally in nearby countries. Currently, Le Voile Couture is a Dubai-based local business, which plans to elevate its status to a regional business in the next few years mainly by using social media marketing to get a better brand image in the region. Therefore, in the future, the business is expected to be more popular in the region. Such popularity will make the business transition easier since potential customers will know it better from different regions.
It is commonly understood that social media offers a marketing opportunity for businesses, especially those that target young people. Because it is a new phenomenon, many marketers are yet to embrace social media. Notwithstanding, the few marketers who have incorporated social media alongside traditional marketing methods have witnessed growth in their businesses. It is in light of this potential marketing capacity presented by social media that the owners of Le Voile Couture wish to take their business online. Already in Dubai, many fashion businesses operate at least a Facebook page where they interact with their customers, informing them about any relevant information that may boost their businesses.
Important business information that can be passed through the social media includes the introduction of new products, change of business location, and price fluctuations. In turn, customers can use the same social media platform to provide feedback about the business. In business, feedback is highly valued since it enables a business to view its product(s) through the eyes of the customers. Today, most customers prefer products that reflect their tastes, something that exerts pressure on businesses to remain in contact with their customers to ascertain what excites them. Businesses that deliberately ignore customers’ input often find it difficult to remain in operation, especially in the face of the increased competition because rivalry equips clients with a wide range of product choices. As a fashion hub, Dubai City has many fashion businesses. Hence, Le Voile Couture cannot afford to ignore the views of its customers.
Primary research will consist of:
- An interview with half of Le Voile’s owners: Information about the business will be retrieved, including the plans on what the owners are planning to do in the future. Besides, information on how they are planning to cope with the transition from a local to a regional business will be sought.
- A questionnaire for the customers: The questionnaire will help to get information from customers’ point of view concerning how the business is doing, what can be improved, the areas it is doing well, and/or why customers prefer it to other competitors. Customers would also advise whether the business could be done from a regional level. Customers will also be asked about Le Voile’s social media account to determine if it is better compared to that of the competitors.
- SWOT Analysis: This analysis will identify the business’ strengths and weaknesses. However, the analysis will be done after the questionnaire and the interview with the owners to identify what Le Voile has to do to improve its operations now and in the future.
Main Results and Findings
SWOT Analysis for Le Voile Couture.
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Survey with Customers
A survey was used to get information from the customers’ point of view.
Analysis and Discussion
Social media marketing is the action of a business to promote its products or service using social media sites. Le Voile Couture uses social media marketing since the platforms are accessible to its customers. They are an easy way to get new potential customers as confirmed from 50% of the owners who participated in the interview. Social media is also used because Le Voile Couture is currently operating in a local market. In addition, social media is favourable because of the target audience and the country the business is operating in. Le Voile is in a market in which social media marketing is used prominently (Al-Jenaibi, 2011). The Abaya business uses apps such as ‘Instagram’ to promote its products to its target customers. Le Voile Couture operates in Dubai, UAE. Here, the usage of social media is heavy (Wiest & Eltantawy, 2012). Therefore, Le Voile has to use social media to promote its products. The target audience consists mainly of women aged 18-35. In this region, such women use social media heavily (Newsom & Lengel, 2012; Sreberny, 2015). Therefore, for small businesses to grow such as Le Voile, they have to exploit this particular market.
SWOT analysis was used to analyse what Le Voile has been doing well so far, including its weaknesses and the areas the business can improve. It also reveals the threats the business faces in the market. SWOT analysis only covers these four factors. Therefore, it might be hard to use it for complex issues (Verboncu & Condurache, 2016; Oreski, 2012). With SWOT analysis, elements that can be considered in both sides of the argument cannot be captured in this framework. Le Voile Couture prides itself in selling unique designs that its competitors do not deal in. Hence, the business enjoys the unique selling point (USP) model. Having ‘different’ designs is important in this market due to the vast majority of competitors, especially the local businesses (Amar, 2016). Therefore, Le Voile has to make sure that it stands out from the crowd. With many of its competitors who similarly market their products (using social media), Le Voile may have to demonstrate to its potential customers that the product it sells is ‘better’ and that customers should buy the product instead of getting it from the competitors. In a perfectly competitive market, the strength of any business lies in the ability to differentiate its products from those of competitors. According to Amar (2016), the business practice of attempting to set its products apart from those of competitors is known as product differentiation.
The business is aiming to retain customers by selling different designs that appeal to them. Selling a product such as an Abaya, which is permanent due to the culture of the country, implies that Le Voile’s product will never go out of fashion. This situation is an advantage to Le Voile since it will not be concerned with the need to upgrade its design every often. Fashion businesses have to contend with fast-changing trends mainly due to changing customer preferences or because of the ‘planned obsolescence’ (Agrawal, Kavadias, & Toktay, 2015).
Despite the Abaya is a stable product, Le Voile will need to modify its design to achieve a new look. By upgrading the product through new designs, Le Voile seeks to highlight to the public that it is ahead of its competitors and that it is up to date with what is happening locally. Every fashion business aims to sell new products and/or set new trends (Berthon, Pitt, Plangger, & Shapiro, 2012). Hence, using social media to market the product display that the business belongs to this ‘social media era’. Social media is being deployed in the Abaya industry at this moment in the Dubai market (Hawkins & Vel, 2013). Using social media to market product that mostly targets teenagers and people who are in their early twenties requires the product to be exciting and unique because people in this age bracket get bored easily, hence requiring a brand that will bring forth some form of excitement. Le Voile is seeking to achieve this goal using the USP. On the other hand, the ‘different’ designs that the business is offering might not attract all customers, especially the older age groups who would prefer a more traditional design. Le Voile could appeal to those older age groups by using primary research first and forehand to identify how it can tweak its social media marketing approach to attract the older-aged customers that it is currently missing. Research shows a growing acceptance of social media by the older generation (Kamal, Chu, & Pedram, 2013). Thus, Le Voile can tap into this growing acceptance to reach out to older potential customers.
An interview with 50% of the owners disclosed what they are planning to do to be a regional business. They revealed the plan to use strategies such as getting a famous woman from the region to wear the product and advertising it on their social media platforms. The owners said they would continue to advertise their product on social media platforms, especially ‘Instagram’ and ‘Snapchat’ due to it being used by the company’s target audience. Getting a celebrity to advertise the product will give the business the limelight in the region. The strategy will improve the business’ brand image, especially if the celebrity who is contracted to promote Le Voile’s product has a good image in the region. However, if the celebrity has a bad image in the region, he or she may give Le Voile a bad publicity whose consequences may involve the loss of potential and the existing customers. However, if the same celebrity has a good image in the region, his or her ‘fans’ would be tempted to buy the Abayas that Le Voile is offering. In addition, if the celebrity is bigger in another city/country, Le Voile may get exposure from that nation and hence an excellent opportunity to expand its business to that city or country. The use of celebrities in the marketing of products has been used with much success. For example, Nike achieved a tremendous increase in sales after it contracted famous athlete Michael Jordan to market its shoe brand (Dom, Ramli, Chin, & Fern, 2016). Therefore, Le Voile will benefit by contracting a well-known celebrity to market its Abaya. Additionally, this approach may help the company to outperform its competitors, as it was witnessed in the case of Nike where the company managed to outperform its rival shoe businesses such as Reebok and Adidas (Dom et al., 2016).
Le Voile could also use a strategic alliance with a business in a nearby city/country. For example, the company could use the alliance with an Abaya business in Qatar that perhaps wants to enter the Dubai market soon. Through the partnership, Le Voile would get information about that different market and hence better knowledge of the particular area. In addition, being associated with an Abaya business in another city would be a fast way to get Le Voile known to the customers in the area. Le Voile could partner with an Abaya business that has a similar target audience. The business would benefit from information that would be specific and helpful to it. It might be more appropriate for Le Voile to establish a strategic alliance with an Abaya business whose target audience is different. With this strategic alliance, both businesses could put the other businesses product on their social media page weekly or monthly to gain coverage from most of their customers. As a result, both businesses would benefit from a wider market reach for their products. Additionally, by cooperating to promote their business interests, the two companies would eliminate competition that could be detrimental to their respective business positions.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on the current fast-changing business world, new establishments must utilise the best technologies in their operations to gain a competitive edge in the market. Consequently, in the near future, Le Voile Couture could use social media marketing in many ways to its benefit. For instance, the platforms may help the business to transition from a local to a regional company. Since its USP is different from that of its competitors, Le Voile has the edge since the Abaya is a permanent product in the market. Innovating the product may attract younger women to buy from the business. Le Voile may also get a celebrity to endorse its product and/or advertise it on its social media platforms. The celebrity may promote Le Voile’s product to potential customers in other cities, a strategy that would help the business to transition easily to the regional level.
Regarding the use of social media, Le Viole would benefit from adopting other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace to complement its Instagram platform. Particularly, Facebook has a wide subscriber base in the UAE (Dhir, Buragga, & Boreqqah, 2013). Most of these subscribers are within the age group that forms the target market for Le Voile. Importantly, Facebook is easy to use even for people with limited technology acquaintance This accessibility may explain the growing number of users in the UAE, especially those in their middle ages. Twitter is also popular in the MENA region, having inspired the ‘Arab Spring’ (Ghannam, 2011). According to Dhir et al. (2013), the UAE consists of one of the regions in the world where Twitter usage continues to grow even as the overall usage of the platform across the world drops slightly. Nearly half of Twitter users in the UAE are young females who form the target base for Le Viole products. Therefore, Le Voile must tap into this potential market by increasing its online presence through additional platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Le Voile should try to appeal to other age groups, especially the older age bracket since it would give the business potential customers in other cities or countries. The business should also deploy strategic alliances to get its product known in other areas. Using social media marketing will help Le Voile Couture to eventually elevate its status from a local to a regional status. Without using social media marketing, Le Voile may find it hard to make the transition since the business is not known in other areas.
Le Voile is a business with promising prospects, especially given that it offers a product that is permanent in the Dubai market. The company is also making deliberate efforts to differentiate its Abaya from those made by its rivals. Despite an acute competition in Dubai’s market for the Abaya, Le Voile has the potential to achieve a loyal following among its target customers. The use of social media coupled with celebrity endorsement will serve to enforce this consumer loyalty. Consequently, these factors will lead to the strengthening of Le Voile’s business position within and outside the Dubai market.
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