In distinction from Marks & Spencer, the international Bhs brand is not well-known in UAE markets; moreover, their womenswear and menswear products look more suitable for international tourists coming to visit UAE than for local consumers seeking high-quality products. For those seeking unique and well-designed Bhs products, the company offers unlimited purchasing opportunities through its online stores or a set of stores in Abu Dhabi (LIWA Trading Enteprise 2009).
It should be noted, that while Marks & Spencer has a website designed for UAE consumers and providing full information about its UAE stores and the benefits of its cooperation with Arabic retailers, similar information about Bhs stores in UAE is not easy to find, being available through the websites and information boards of the company’s partners in UAE. It should be noted, that Bhs’s product design for UAE does not differ much from what the company usually offers to its European customers. The lack of these product design differences stems from the originally modest and overtly classical nature of Bhs’s products.
Nevertheless, and despite the growing popularity of Bhs in UAE, it still finds it difficult to expand its retail market presence without active cooperation with local retailers, and similar to Marks&Spencer, Bhs looks forward to expanding its business contacts and ties with a whole range of retail stores in UAE. In the light of the unique cultural features of UAE markets, does that mean that the brand image well-known and familiar to the customers all over the world requires being revised and changed to fit into the unique set of customer traditions and beliefs in UAE?
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In reality, the UAE is well-known for its commitment to British standards of high quality clothing. With the annual turnover of more than $3. 5 trillion, Britain remains one of the leading producers of the world famous brands which are accepted and recognized in UAE. “When the nation is so highly valued it comes as no surprise that brands from the UK also top popularity charts throughout the Gulf. British fashion and food are top sellers in the region, with a loyal following that companies not only British expatriates, but also other expatriates and the local community” (Mishra 2006).
In this context, the brand image which Marks & Spencer and Bhs promote in UAE markets should combine the essential features of British culture and promote the importance of Eastern cultural traditions. Moreover, where Marks & Spencer and Bhs seek to establish themselves as the companies with a well developed positive market reputation, they should also be able to incorporate international brand principles into the system of brand beliefs in UAE. That is why since the end of 2006, Marks & Spencer has been actively engaged into promoting the role of green technologies and “green approaches” to different kinds of fashion products.
In particular, the company has concentrated its efforts around the need to promote a new type of “green” brand image which is widely recognized all over the world. It should be noted, that by making emphasis on green technologies, Marks & Spencer has also recognized the universal and cost-effective nature of this “green” image, for ecology and the need to protect environment are easily understood and accepted by all world cultures regardless their origin.
Obviously, Marks & Spencer looks for the effective ways of creating a more ethical brand image and proving the relevance of ethical mechanisms which should determine the customers’ choice of specific products. “It’s not just our green dyes that won’t harm the environment” (Pearlman 2006) is just one out of many examples which are expected to position Marks & Spencer as one of the most ecologically safe fashion brands in UAE.
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