February 4, 2019 |
Ever since its inception, the United Arab Emirates has innovated constantly, spearheading development in almost every industry. The leaders of the UAE knew very early on that the nation needed to be a magnet for domestic and foreign investment to foster its identity as a powerful business hub. To this end, the UAE today boasts a multitude of strengths that include its burgeoning tourism industry, implementation of free zones, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and its status as world tourism hub.
When we look at the F&B sector, these developments have helped foster a climate where it was possible to import well-known international F&B brands as well as allowing for the emergence of successful homegrown F&B concepts. The Emirati investor has, in turn, grown and evolved alongside this market to emerge with a new attitude and identity to better work within this dynamic sector.
Specifically in the last five years, the Emirati investor has transformed by leaps and bounds with regards to concept development. Where they once were satisfied in merely monetarily supporting a concept, today, Emirati investors are far more engaged. There is an actual desire and drive to be involved, which is always crucial to the success of any project.
In addition, the Emirati investor has developed far more hands-on experience. By actively observing what goes around them, the Emirati investor has gained experience that is applicable in practice rather than just theory. As a whole, the Emirati demographic has now embraced a higher level of creativity and innovation that is a direct result of having travelled and studied abroad, thus exposing them to foreign concepts and bringing these experiences back home.
Finally, there has also been a trend for seeking ventures beyond single outlet businesses. Today, investors want to build an actual business with a positive growth potential versus the traditional one-off business model that we have seen in the past.
To continue to grow and evolve, investors are also arming themselves with all the skills and tools at their disposal. The first thing to be mindful of is to ensure that you have the correct financing and budget in place. Too many concepts have gone under due to inadequate funding or a severe mismanagement of allocated budgets. In layman terms, without secure financial backing, you won’t be able to fund your concept no matter how innovative or groundbreaking it is.
The next important factor is to ensure that you have a strong USP (unique selling point), whether it is the menu, design, service, experience or even the marketing angle. Market differentiation is essential to both survive and thrive in the industry, and it is that distinction that will have your target market choosing your concept over the competition.
Internally, it is imperative that you have the right management and staff on board. Your concept’s success and day-to-day operations will be carried by the strength and efficiency of your chef and management. Without a strong team in place, the outlet will not succeed and be doomed to failure.
In terms of promotion, as with any venture, a strong marketing and social media campaign/plan needs to be implemented. The market has evolved digitally and has enabled concepts to reach out to thousands of potential customers online. It is important to get your brand name out there and use a strong marketing approach that connects with all your customers through both digital and traditional channels.
Finally, maintaining consistency in your food quality and service should take precedence. F&B concepts need to maintain their standards consistently, because as the saying goes “you’re only as good as your last meal”. With the advent of online review systems on apps like Zomato and Deliveroo and a highly interconnected online audience, F&B concepts today are scrutinised more than ever for their levels of food quality and service.
In conclusion, having strong market knowledge and a viable unique concept are the backbones to starting a successful F&B concept in the UAE. The market is ever changing and there is no option for those looking to invest but to adapt alongside it. Those concepts that are thriving despite the challenges are those that have taken the aforementioned core concepts on-board, and implemented them into their recipes for success.