Why one MENA brand moved from a traditional audience focus to an inclusive one after 125 years

Diala Rateb, Josette Ghorra / November 2020

Advertising in MENA is changing. In the past, regional brands largely focused on traditional audiences; for example, ads of household products would be exclusively aimed at women. Today’s consumers, however, are no longer as clearly defined. Audiences are shifting and people expect to hear from voices that represent them.

In its 125 years in business, Johnson’s Baby had been mainly advertising to mothers in the region. However, their audience research showed that fathers are also playing an active role in their children’s lives. They knew they had to cut through their traditional barriers to connect with families in MENA. Now, Johnson’s Baby no longer looks at its audience as a predefined segment. Instead, a deeper understanding of audience behaviour led to a personalised creative and media strategy for Johnson’s Baby. This allowed for an inclusive approach that more accurately reflects the diversity of its customers today.

Combining first-party and third-party data to truly understand the customer

When the Johnson’s team in MENA was planning the relaunch of the Johnson’s Baby range, the goal was to reach the most relevant audiences across existing and new customers.

The marketing team started by looking at its own first-party data, which included website visitors, previous campaign results, search campaigns performance, and their CRM database. To build a full 360-degree view of their audience, they augmented these insights with third-party data, utilising tools such as Google Analytics and Google Trends.

Combining these insights, the brand learned that both mothers and fathers were in the market for baby products in almost equal measure. Based on their first-party website data, they recorded a 50% year-on-year increase in males vs female website sessions, evolving from a 80-20 split of female vs male in 2018 and a 70-30 one in 2019, highlighting how quickly this audience was shifting.

The brand also included ‘adults not parents’ as an audience segment after data showed that more than 45% of sales comes from adult consumers. Using these powerful insights, Johnson’s Baby created a campaign inclusive of fathers for the first time, as well as the creation of personalized bumpers for adults – not just parents.

Tailoring creatives to affinities not traditional audiences

Johnson’s Baby and YouTube worked together to serve tailored messaging throughout the course of the campaign to different users within a broader audience. They started by splitting their audiences into consumers looking for online ‘baby content’ relating to good parenting, education, entertainment, and food. The team then adapted the copy text, opening frame, and voice-over of each video ad to create tailored messages for each of the different types of audience needs. For example, the brand served bumper ads to ‘adults’ with affinities for ‘skincare’ featuring gentle Johnson’s Baby shampoo with a father figure in the video.

“Our advertising copy used to show just a mother and child bonding with no father figure in the picture,” Sana Naweel, senior brand manager of Johnson’s Baby explains. “With the relaunch, our communications now show different kinds of parents interacting with their child.”

Johnson's Baby showcases inclusive marketing

A holistic advertising strategy engages audiences in new ways

The campaign focused on parents in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates with an overall reach of 80%. Furthermore, the brand was able to achieve an average of 36% view-through rates across the three key markets (compared to a 27% benchmark) — the highest of the year in MENA.

These online wins translated into a wider success story for Johnson’s Baby. Their market share in the UAE went up by 4.8% month-on-month as a direct result of the campaign.

How to make your marketing more inclusive

Inclusive marketing isn’t just the right thing to do to represent today’s diverse audiences, it gets more attention too. A global study that analysed 2.7 million YouTube ads in 2019 showed that when advertisers make their creative more inclusive, people will watch. Here are three tips to be more inclusive in your marketing approach:

  • Be data-driven to get a deeper understanding of your audiences to allow you to create affinity-based advertisements.
  • Personalise your marketing approach by featuring diverse voices that cater to each audience's specific interests.
  • Keep an eye on the zeitgeist and key topics that matter to consumers. Inclusive messaging, ideally in real time, is a great way to build loyalty.
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