Ram Mohan – Managing Director, Nielsen Egypt [Interview]

Hi Ram , we have the pleasure to interview you today and discuss your professional point of view in marketing to enrich Think Marketing Magazine readers

Think Marketing: How did you see the Egyptian revolution impacted the marketing industry in Egypt and the Middle East?

Ram Mohan: Marketing finally is all about meeting consumer’s needs with the right product, right position what happened was a sudden shift and marketers has to adapt to it.

For example beverages industry, you will find that marketers had to change to adapt to this circumstances and what we found that marketers adapted quickly and some brands did quite well during this period.


Think Marketing: What about tourism industry that affected negatively during the revolution?

Ram Mohan: Actually Nielsen do a lot of work across different sectors & tourism was one of them as you mentioned, sectors badly affected was  Hospitality industry, Finance sector, Real Estate .. All this sector was actually under allot of stress and people didn’t want to put money and of course for tourism, the basic issue was security.

I would have thought that Egypt tourism industry should have reacted with interviews with tourists and it should be live! And immediately after the revolution to let people know they are happy and feeling safe in Egypt. This should have been a quick response to address the basic issue of tourists feeling safe in Egypt!

 Egyptians don’t realize how lucky they are !

Think Marketing:  What are the strong points we should highlight to develop the authentic Egyptian brands?

Ram Mohan: I would like to say Egypt is one of the very lucky counties and unfortunately many Egyptians don’t realize how lucky they are. Because Egypt is geographically centralized, very close to Europe, very close to the Middle East and at the head of Africa and you have a beautiful climate and allot of touristic sights like in India. Egyptians are worm and friendly and the infrastructure is pretty good.

I see that one of Egypt’s greatest assets is the people themselves, it’s the largest Arab country with 80 million populations and that’s why I think it’s the greatest potential. If you see even Nielsen, now want to export talents from Egypt into other Arab countries because this is a fountain head of talents.

Think Marketing: Do you think that Egypt should be the hub of marketing industry in the Middle East?

Ram Mohan: Yes, you have talents here, marketing is all about creativity. Its allot of creativity involved and I think Egyptians are one of the most creative people at all and if you look at the film industry in Egypt, it’s one of the most developed film industries at all, if you look music industry its extremely well developed in Egypt. If you look at arts in Egypt, also highly developed.

I think Egyptians have a natural ability to communicate and I really appreciate the sense of humor. Definitely I think Egypt will be the canter of marketing and it will be a geographic shift from the Middle East towards Egypt and this will be a boom.


Think Marketing: mentioning a strong competitor like Dubai, some companies moved to Dubai for taxes issues, do you think the Economic circumstances should be more attractive for investors?

Ram Mohan: I would say if you look at any marketing organization the biggest concern is what is going to happen in Egypt in the next 20 years and I am an optimist by nature and I believe soon after this elections Egypt will be stable again and people will start to spending money in terms of building up infrastructure in Egypt.


Q: Think Marketing: Would you give 2 messages to business owners and marketers who decide to stop investing in down economy and considering marketing department is consuming money departments?

Ram Mohan: This is interesting question, we at Nielsen do work across spectrum of clients multinationals based in Egypt, and we found last year when allot of uncertainty some of the manufactures cut down there marketing spends and others did not. Very few kept spending and what we find now that the marketers who spent it was like an investment I wouldn’t call it a cost because they invested very wisely.

At Nielsen we have a huge number of projects coming up and the wise companies are still spending and investing trying to understand the market and people’s needs.

If you look at Real Estate in Egypt now is booming again, the people who are not investing now will have a problem latter.

Think Marketing: Do you believe digital marketing become a solution to reach out targeted segment of customers with very low price?

Ram Mohan: Definitely, if you look at the way digital marketing have grown just before the revolution, the number of Facebook users was from 3 to 3.5 Million and now approaching almost 10 Million so, its phenomenon doubling and tripling.

91% of online consumers believe what they see online

And Nielsen have done allot of surveys and one of this surveys we found that about 91% of online consumers believe what they see online it’s also because of how the traditional media behaved during the revolution specially the press. Marketing is about trust finally if the customers believe the message is not credible he will not listen to it and will not buy into it.

Think Marketing: We Align the normal print magazines with mobile applications that allow readers to stream videos and more interactive content , do you think this idea will need more time to be adapted to this technology or, they will be using it heavily ?

Ram Mohan: Don’t underestimate consumers; consumers are very smart and quickly adapted to technology. Tow or, three years ago allot of people who are not even had internet connection and immediately after the revolution the number of internet users especially on mobile phone have grown up dramatically. Allot of people have access to the internet, people use to read on papers and now reading on small screens. And be quite confident that people will adapt and they will want new technology and excitement on small screens and they will want to do something like that.


Think Marketing: What was your expectation before and after working in Egypt?

Ram Mohan: I believe that Egypt is under-marketed; the reality

 There is definitely a room to better marketing Egypt name globally.

on the ground is far better than what is perceived. When foreigners come to Egypt he or she would still believe that Egypt is not developed but actually it is, when I came to Egypt my expectations ware very low compared to the reality.  There is definitely a room to better marketing Egypt name globally.


Think Marketing: Do Egyptian marketers should change the marketing massages and make it more optimistic about the future?

Ram Mohan: Absolutely, You actually raised a valid point, in every country this phase exists for some time but this is very short phases and then move back into normal life. The Egyptians people they like music and humor, humor is important for Egyptians. I think what differentiate an Egyptian is the sense of humor and it’s creating balance between work and life, it’s about living for today and it’s very strong Egyptian traits which will not disappear .

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