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Karat World Gold and Jewellery leverages strategic focus on the Filipino community to thrive in the UAE market

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Karat World Gold and Jewellery leverages strategic focus on the Filipino community to thrive in the UAE market

About 80% of the brand’s customers are Philippine nationals, and it is in expansion mode in the USA, which has a sizeable population of Filipino Americans 

Dubai: Karat World Gold and Jewellery, led by Founder Chairman Yahya Ahmed Mohamed Al-Maqddam and CEO Saleh Yahya Ahamed-Al Maqddam, has found an unconventional route to increase its sales. The brand, that has made significant strides in the UAE jewellery market, opening six showrooms in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain since its inception in 2017, caters to the Filipino community in a big way, with significant results.   

In a recent interview with The Retail Jeweller Middle East, Abdulla Yahya Ahmed-Al Maqddam, Managing Director, Karat World Gold and Jewellery shares his market insights and the brand’s journey so far. 

What prompted you to focus on the Filipino community initially?
We noticed a gap in the market and decided to focus solely on the Filipino community, which proved successful. Over time, we expanded to serve local and international customers such as Arabs, Indians and other Asians and European clients.

What factors contribute to the appeal of your jewellery within the Filipino community?
When we opened, we ensured that our staff, from the manager to the salesperson, was all-Filipino to create a sense of familiarity for our customers. Our pricing, especially for our 18-karat jewellery, is competitive, and we also offer Saudi gold. Our focus on Italian and Turkish jewellery has resonated well with the Filipino community in Dubai, who appreciate the quality and design of these pieces. They often prefer customized pieces that reflect their culture and heritage.

What are the key buying behaviours and changes in the preferences of your Filipino customer base over the last few years?
As customers become more informed about pricing, we emphasize our brand’s quality and loyalty benefits. We offer a branded experience, including KW stamps on our gold items, unique packaging and a loyalty programme where customers earn points for purchases. Our 18-karat gold is guaranteed, and customers can redeem points for future purchases. While Filipinos celebrate occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and New Year’s Day, their buying patterns are similar to Christians, with a peak in weddings during June and July.

How do you cater to diverse customer preferences?
Our customers come from various backgrounds and locations worldwide seeking high-quality, affordable jewellery. Customized jewellery is a popular request and our response is fast to them. Notably, 80% of our customers are Philippine nationals, highlighting our strong presence and popularity within this community. Additionally, we offer Italian jewellery and diamonds, which are particularly favoured by our customers. 

Tell us about your key retail locations and their sales performance. How do you select these locations?
We have consistently strong sales year-round, supported by a loyal customer base. Our main stores are located in Dubai, at Karam Center and Al Rigga Street, as well as in Al Ain Mall. Additionally, we have a presence in Medinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi. We prioritize busy areas that attract a diverse range of customers, not just Filipinos. A good location not only boosts sales but also enhances our branding.

Tell us about your signature collections.
Our signature collections include 18-karat jewellery, manufactured by our factories, and a diamond collection crafted by us. We plan to introduce new diamond collections and are actively working on creating our own designs and brand identity.

What is your current marketing strategy? Can you also talk of your future growth and expansion plans?
One key strategy is our marketing efforts, particularly in the Filipino Times publication and on radio. Additionally, we have a strong presence on social media, which has helped us reach a wider audience and engage with our customers effectively. 

Going ahead, our ambitious plans for growth include expanding our presence in the UAE market and beyond into global markets. We have already begun operations in the US market, where we see very good sales. For now, we are soon opening a new branch in Al Wahda Mall, which attracts a diverse range of customers, including locals, Indians and Europeans, in addition to Filipinos. We aim to have branches in prominent locations and expand to 10-20 retail shops within the next three to five years.

Our next step is to expand into the UK market; and we are partnering with a marketing company to increase brand awareness in the UAE and attract customers from the USA. Our focus is on expanding our presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. We are also introducing a new line of diamond jewellery, manufactured in-house, which has been well-received and will be a key focus of our future marketing efforts. 

Why did you choose the USA for expansion? What products do you plan to offer, and the new customer segment you aim to reach?
USA has high demand, especially from Filipino Americans, who are seeking 18-karat Italian gold, which is not widely available there. We noticed a gap in the market as most retailers only offer 14-karat, 10-karat, or 9-karat gold. By opening an office in the USA with a local bank account, we aim to streamline the payment process for our customers. Our unique product range, not available elsewhere in the US, has sparked interest and demand among customers.

Can you tell us about your online initiatives and your strategies for improving sales?
We recently launched our website and are expanding our product range, including a new category for diamonds. To enhance our online presence, we are focusing on improving sales through Instagram and Snapchat. In Dubai, Filipinos are more active on Facebook, while Arabs prefer Instagram and Snapchat. Therefore, we are targeting these platforms to reach a wider audience, including locals, Indians and other communities.

By Bushra Satkhed

Retail Jeweller World Exclusive

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