No longer spoils of war: a future full of potential in Iraq

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Information about No longer spoils of war: a future full of potential in Iraq
Business & Mgmt

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: TNSGlobal



When thinking of Iraq, what may spring to mind is a country in a postapocalyptic state. Intense media reporting has ensured our first mental images are of a nation torn apart by war, characterised by a lack of security, infrastructure and public order.

No longer spoils of war: a future full of potential in Iraq When thinking of Iraq, what may spring to mind is a country in a postapocalyptic state. Intense media reporting has ensured our first mental images are of a nation torn apart by war, characterised by a lack of security, infrastructure and public order. Share this Yet those visiting Iraq today are met with a very different picture. Two years on from the US withdrawal of troops, almost half of the population feel highly optimistic about the country’s future prospects. Most youngsters are focused on getting ahead with their careers and establishing their own financial independence, meaning there is a highly driven, ambitious workforce. As perceptions start to shift, growing numbers of international companies are looking to get a foothold in this rapidly developing market. Yet many still feel in the dark about the consumer landscape of a country that has been seen as ‘off limits’ for so long. Undoubtedly one of the most important lessons for brands looking to get under the skin of the Iraqi consumer is to understand the crucial difference between North and South. Northern Iraq, which was much less affected by the war than Baghdad and the South, is rapidly gaining recognition as a vibrant commercial region. Living habits are modernising towards to a Western influence and its young population is seeking and sometimes advocating more progressive ideas – whether around career choices, clothing brands or just where to go for a drink. People in the North socialise with friends, follow the latest fashion trends and choose to eat out at least once a week. Intelligence Applied

No longer spoils of war: a future full of potential in Iraq In sharp contrast, Southern Iraqis put a much stronger emphasis on spending time with family, cooking and watching TV at home. Brands targeting people in the South therefore need to align their messages much more with traditional Muslim values of family and community. In the North there is scope for more liberal campaigns when it comes to high-growth sectors like fashion and technology. International clothing brands, such as Levi’s, Adidas and United Colours of Benetton, already have a strong presence, while Spanish giant Mango recently set up shop in the Northern Kurdish city of Irbil. Regardless of geography, education is a huge priority in Iraq - seen as the key to improving children’s prospects. A huge number of schools were damaged, looted or forced to close during the war. Despite thereof Iraq’s older generation is determined to provide youngsters with the opportunities they may not have had previously, with a large proportion of the female population keen to become schoolteachers. Educationthemed campaigns, focused on improving the awareness and importance of literacy and higher education, will no doubt find a ready audience. When it comes to communication channels, TV is undoubtedly the preferred media outlet. While radio falls out of vogue, satellite TV is almost universal among Iraqi households. A growing tally of foreign broadcasters now have a presence in Share this the region, including the BBC, US-backed Al-Hurra TV and Radio Free Iraq. Although internet access is still one of the lowest in the region, over 21 million Iraqis now own a mobile phone – 77 per cent of the entire population. Brands that can think now about how to engage people via their handsets will find themselves ahead of the game. In spite of its complex and troubled history, the feeling of optimism in Iraq is palpable. The powerful sense of ambition and independence among Iraq’s young people is opening new doors previously locked shut by the shackles of war. Tapping into the cultural differences between North and South is crucial for marketers hoping to win over hearts and minds. Yet those that can help Iraq’s young people achieve their professional ambitions – whether through education, technology or other means – will find a market ripe with opportunity. By Sawan Prasad, Head of Global Business Solutions and Strategy, TNS Middle East & North Africa This article was first published on M&M Global on 19 December 2013. If you would like to talk to us about this report, please get in touch via or on Twitter @tns_global About the author Sawan Prasad is head of the Global Business Solutions & Marketing Science team in TNS’s Middle East region. He is responsible for driving best practice research through training, coaching and consulting clients on management strategies in areas such as brand and communications, shopper and innovation and product development. Sawan has more than 13 years’ experience in market research, and has worked with clients across various industries such as FMCG, automotive, banking, telecom, government and service sectors. He is an economics graduate with an MBA in Marketing & Finance. About TNS TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world. TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit for more information. Intelligence Applied

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