Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sneak Preview of Origin Oman

What is Origin Oman?
Origin Oman is a domestic campaign to promote Oman-made products and services; it has the full support of Government, business and community organisations. The campaign’s principal objective is to engender national pride and encourage consumers and companies to choose locally made products and services bearing the Origin Oman logo.

In brief, Origin Oman offers every Oman-based resident an opportunity to help promote the sultanate’s products and services and by doing so help create employment opportunities, stimulate the national economy and reduce carbon emissions.

At the heart of the campaign is the Origin Oman logo. Companies who meet the standards set by Origin Oman can use the logo to identify themselves, their products and services.

The key five (5) criteria which must be met before the Origin Oman logo can be used are:

1. As a manufacturer – all products made have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible, be sourced from products originating in Oman. A product that is imported and re-packaged will not be eligible.
2. As a producer - all primary product (fruit, vegetables, meats etc) must have spent the majority of its life in Oman.
3. The company and its products or services must meet high quality standards.
4. The company must be committed to sound environmental standards.
5. The company must be committed to the highest standards of business conduct and derive strength and prosper by dealing fairly and honestly with its employees, shareholders, clients, suppliers, competitors, government, regulatory authorities and the general public.

By meeting these standards, Oman-based consumers can be assured that companies and their products and services carrying the Origin Oman symbol are of a high quality, are socially responsible and are contributing to the development of Oman’s national economy.

Local is Good
Locally owned businesses reflect the character of our communities. Owners of local businesses live here. They are our neighbours. Their products and services support and sustain the needs of Oman-based residents and they play a vital role in our social networks. In fact, local businesses mirror who we are and what we value as a nation. They help to create a sense of place. Indeed, local businesses offer the greatest opportunities for jobs, innovation, and other community contributions, which improve the quality of life for Omani citizens.

Over the past few years, global trends and market forces have resulted in consolidation, mergers and acquisitions in many business sectors. Growth among mass merchandisers, Internet retailers and big-box stores, ultimately reduces the selection and diversity of products and services available in communities. With such intense competition, the market share of goods and services sold by local businesses has eroded, in some cases, dramatically. The result is less choice for Omani consumers, a growing sameness of design, of products, and of services, less opportunity for innovation and reduced reinvestment back into Oman's economy.

Why is Origin Oman important to consumers?
Local businesses are the heart and soul of Oman. What you may not know is that local companies contribute tremendously to the development of Oman’s economy. Indeed, those who work with local businesses are more likely to earn a living wage and receive benefits. Food that is produced locally is fresher and requires far less energy to transport to market and not insignificantly, it is local business owners who are there with contributions for schools, hospitals, local projects, youth groups and civic projects.

Why is Origin Oman important to business?
Owning and operating a local business is very rewarding, but among its many challenges is the growing dominance of the internet, big box retailers and mass merchandisers. Origin Oman has been created to provide consumers with a brand identity for all locally owned businesses. We will create a website that will provide Oman-based consumers who seek specific products and/or services with listings, which can be accessed through queries for products and services and/or by location.

We will provide regular promotional campaigns that gain the attention of consumers and encourage their loyalty to Oman-based businesses. We will plan and organize panel discussions and public events that illustrate the substantial and varied contributions that local businesses contribute to Oman's economic and environmental well-being. Indeed, the participation of locally owned business is critical to the success of Origin Oman. We encourage businesses to support our various public awareness campaigns by placing the Origin Oman logo on their products, letterheads, websites, offices and store windows, acknowledging customer support by thanking them for buying and shopping locally, and also by providing them with point-of-purchase information that reinforces the benefits that you provide to Oman. Of course, we also encourage local businesses to buy goods and services from other Oman-based firms.

What can you expect from Origin Oman? We are committed to sustained growth with an emphasis on public education. As we grow our partnership base throughout Oman, we will organize and promote multiple public education and promotional events that highlight the benefits of sustaining local economies as well as the enormous contributions local businesses provide to Omani communities. We encourage citizen and business partners’ suggestions and urge them to take advantage of the Origin Oman brand and to further expand and promote our public education mission. Regular e-based communication, editorials, an annual Origin Oman Week, promotional events, an annual Origin Oman Directory, a quarterly newsletter highlighting our progress and assistance with local manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers are just some the core elements of our work plan.

How can you help?
First and foremost, we want you to buy Oman made products and services. Whether you are a business owner or a private individual, recognize and value the way your buying decisions can influence the shape of Oman's economy.

If you visit a local business that does not display the Origin Oman logo, be an advocate for Origin Oman and encourage the owner to become a partner. It builds recognition not only of Origin Oman, but of the importance of each business to the growth of Oman's economy.

If you are a business, please make every effort to promote Origin Oman through the distribution of our marketing material and directory to your customers, participate in our promotions, events and understanding the important role you play in Oman's economy and by thanking your customers for choosing to buy Oman made products and services.

About the campaign
The aim of Origin Oman is to encourage consumers and organisations to buy Oman made goods and services wherever possible. It’s not a difficult concept to sell. Most people share the common human inclination to support their own local community ahead of outsiders. And the success of the Origin Oman campaign will be greatly helped by the well recognised Origin Oman logo. The campaign intends to:

o Promote national pride in our manufacturing industry and the economic importance of buying Oman made.
o Encourage Oman-based consumers to buy locally made products, use local services and to be local tourists. Indeed, we are sure that many who want to buy Oman-made products or purchase Omani services are frustrated by not knowing where to look for them.
o Build brand loyalty for Oman made products.
o Create awareness of the employment, economic, environmental and social benefits of buying locally made products and services.
o Enable consumers to clearly identify Oman-made products and to make an informed choice.
o Help increase Oman's manufacturing capability.
o Reduce imports, especially of consumption goods.
o Help create employment.
o Help reduce fuel consumption.

Origin Oman Marketing Campaign
Naturally, the marketing campaign (see attached set of initiatives) will be the most visible part of Origin Oman. It will be designed to encourage consumers and businesses to value the economic and environmental impact of buying Oman made products and services.
A variety of marketing and communication channels will be used, these include: paid advertising, sponsorship, news media, press releases, editorials, print supplements, blog, road shows, brochures, newsletters, e-bulletins, billboards, events, Origin Oman Week, posters and the Origin Oman website (www.originoman.om)

Timeframe
Given the time and care that is required to develop a campaign such as Origin Oman, every effort will be made to begin the campaign in the first week of January 2008. The Omani National Products Campaign has had a high public profile since its inception and this has created significant expectations with various stakeholder groups. Communications around the campaign will need to be carefully managed if it is to ramp-up its reach and credibility.

Target Audiences
The broad target audiences for the marketing, media and events campaign are:

o Consumers, segmented in various ways (age; income; life-style; social class; gender; and life-cycle-stage)
o Corporate/Government Procurement Teams
o Manufacturers/producers of products and services
o Retailers/resellers of local products
o Omani businesses more generally
o The wider community and opinion leaders
o The youth market

Key Messages
The initial concept will be a high-level, generic marketing, media, advertising and experiential event campaign designed to appeal to national pride and to make Oman-based citizens feel good about supporting Omani businesses. At a later stage, the campaign will be more targeted to specific audiences and market segments. The initial generic campaign will allow businesses to link their own domestic marketing, media, advertising and event activities into the Origin Oman campaign and leverage off it if they wish. Encouraging people to support Omani goods and services (identified by the Origin Oman campaign logo) will be the foci of the media campaign, which will certainly be the most visible part of the campaign.

As part of the Origin Oman campaign, the following themes/messages will be developed to appeal to the target audiences highlighted above:

1. A generic appeal to national pride – irrespective of nationality
This high level theme would cut across all elements of the campaign and answer questions such as, "What is this all about?" "Why are we doing this?"

2. Pride in Omani values
Emphasise the international quality and durability of Omani products and the goodness and purity of ingredients.

3. Reversing the cultural cringe
People from other countries seek out Omani goods and services, so why not buy them here at home?

4. Invest locally
Studies show that significantly more money will stay in Oman where purchases are made locally. In brief, more money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses purchase from other locally owned manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, service providers and farms.

5. Taste the difference
Most local produce has been picked inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh and with its full flavour, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before. Close-to-home foods can also be grown for taste, rather than withstanding the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting. Ever tried Omani tomatoes, onions, aubergines, dates, bananas, limes, mangoes, eggs, chicken, kingfish, tuna, shrimp, abalone, or lobster?

6. Save the planet
Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation. This generally means contributing less to congestion, habitat loss and pollution. A UK study found that a typical British meal, sourced locally, travelled 66 times fewer “food miles.” In fact, with 1/4 of all trucks on our roads are carrying food, plus the pollution caused by transporting produce by air, it’s easy to see how the movement of goods is contributing so heavily to carbon emissions. We could cut millions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere by reducing our dependence on international products and going back to buying local instead. Alternatively, we can just keep burning those fossil fuels and learn to live with global climate change.

7. Career choice
Skilled and talented young people should see Oman's manufacturing industries as a worthwhile and rewarding career choice.

8. Talent magnet
A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

9. Know what you eat
Buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used? Is that fruit genetically modified? Was that chicken free range or did it grow up in a box? People who eat locally find it easier to get answers.

10. Explore Oman
Visiting local farms is a way to be a local tourist. You'll also be ploughing money back into the local community.

11. Live healthy
By buying local you will eat more vegetables and fewer processed products, sample a wider variety of foods, and eat more fresh food at its nutritional peak.

12. Get better service
Locally owned businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they're selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Campaign Evaluation Criteria
The marketing campaign will be evaluated using the following measures:

Manufacturers
o Uptake or those who become members of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Changes in attitude and behaviour towards the Origin Oman campaign.

Corporate & Government Procurement Teams
o Advertising awareness of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Procurement Teams’ willingness to buy Oman made products/services.

Retailers
o Advertising awareness of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Retailers' willingness to stock/promote Oman made products/services.

Consumers
o Advertising awareness, unprompted, of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Advertising awareness, when prompted, of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Consumers' disposition/consideration to buying Oman made products/services.
o Specific attitude changes to Oman made products.

Origin Oman FAQs
The aim of the Origin Oman is to encourage consumers and organisations to buy Oman made goods and services wherever possible. It’s not a difficult concept to sell. Most people share the common human inclination to support their own local community ahead of outsiders. And the success of the Origin Oman campaign will be greatly helped by the well recognised Origin Oman logo. The campaign intends to:

o Promote national pride in our manufacturing industry and the economic importance of buying Oman made.
o Encourage Oman-based consumers to buy locally made products, use local services and to be local tourists. Indeed, we are sure that many who want to buy Oman-made products or purchase Omani services are frustrated by not knowing where to look for them.
o Build brand loyalty for Oman made products.
o Create awareness of the employment, economic, environmental and social benefits of buying locally made products and services.
o Enable consumers to clearly identify Oman-made products and to make an informed choice.
o Help increase Oman's manufacturing capability.
o Reduce imports, especially of consumption goods.
o Help create employment.
o Help reduce fuel consumption.

Is the Government involved?
The government spearheads Origin Oman. The Ministries of Commerce & Industry and National Economy provided seed funding for the initiative.

Can I join?
Any business of any size can join, whether you make or sell a product or service. Non-business organisations such as educational institutions, government organizations, charities, sports clubs and other bodies can also join.

What are the annual membership fees?
o Business membership (products & services) RO300
o Start-up business (within first 24 months) RO150
o Non-profit organisation (e.g. health or education institution or sports organisation) RO100 per annum
o Government organization – RO150 per annum
o Retail store - By arrangement

Origin Oman invoices you for your membership fee once your membership has been approved. Payment is due on receipt of the invoice.

What are the benefits?
Origin Oman continuously encourages consumers and procurement teams to buy products and services of members. Benefits include:

o Promotion under the Origin Oman banner through literature, campaigns, print, web, television and radio coverage.
o Own website page on: www.originoman.om - the content of which is fully controlled by you and links to your website if available.
o Use of the Origin Oman Member logo to promote the business.
o Opportunity to apply to use the Origin Oman logo on products.
o Website entry on the Origin Oman website www.originoman.com
o Access to marketing and promotional materials.
o Training at subsidised rates.
o Opportunities to participate in shows and events.
o Trade development opportunities through meet the buyer initiatives.
o Be part of the Origin Oman Week.
o Access to a PR & press release service.
o Newsletters and e-bulletins.
o Invitations to Origin Oman networking meetings and seminars.
o Entry into the published Origin Oman guide.
o Members bulletin board /forum on: www.originoman.om

Who are your members?
Companies and organisations, small and large, from virtually every economic sector will join the Origin Oman initiative. Indeed, we fully expect the number to grow monthly. This means that hundreds of consumer and industrial products will be carrying the Origin Oman logo.

How can I join?
Application forms are available from the Origin Oman offices at PEIE’s head office on Knowledge Oasis Muscat or they can be downloaded from: www.originoman.om Application for membership of Origin Oman is based on the following criteria:

o I am a business based in Oman and committed to the aims and objectives of Origin Oman.
o I agree to support Origin Oman initiatives and events and provide reasonable information about the performance of my business. I understand that this will be treated in confidence but that it may be used in summary by Origin Oman to satisfy current funders or to secure future funding.
o I will strive to ensure that my products are of the highest quality and produced with care and commitment.
o I agree to comply with all relevant legislation relating to food safety and hygiene, traceability, environmental health and trading standards.
o All products when offered for sale to the public should clearly indicate the provenance or origin of the product for the benefit of the consumer, so that they are able to easily identify local produce.
o As a producer - all primary product (fruit, vegetables, meats etc) must have spent the majority of its life in Oman.
o As a manufacturer – all products made have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible, be sourced from products originating in Oman.
o Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality members will demonstrate active local sourcing where and when products are available from within Oman.
o I agree to provide full details for all products that I intend to carry the Origin Oman logo and only to use the logo in accordance with the style guide provided. These details will include, but are not limited to, identity/source of raw ingredients, location of manufacturing/processing and other information requested by Origin Oman.
o Approval must be granted before the Origin Oman logo may be used.
o I understand that I will be required to pay an annual subscription charge for my membership (12 months from the date my membership is approved and payment is received by Origin Oman). The subscription will be due on or before this date the following year. In the event of non-payment of that subscription within 30 days of the anniversary date, Origin Oman may thereafter terminate my membership without notice and all benefits of membership will immediately cease. My membership will only be reinstated, at the absolute discretion of Origin Oman, upon payment in full of any outstanding subscription.
o I understand that I must at all times abide by the Code of Conduct, Origin Oman may, in its absolute discretion, terminate my membership for any breach of any term of the Code of Conduct. The decision of Origin Oman shall be final. If my membership is so terminated, I understand that all benefits of membership will immediately cease, but there shall be no entitlement to a refund of any sums I have paid.

How long does it take to process my membership application?
Approximately one week, depending on the quality of the information supplied by the prospective member, as well as on the volume of applications being processed at a given time.

How will I know which companies make or supply certain products or services?
The Origin Oman website - www.originoman.om - has a full list of members. There is either a short profile on each member company, its products and/or services, or a hyperlink to that company's website.

Can Origin Oman help me with my marketing and advertising campaigns?
Yes, but our primary goal is to promote the Origin Oman campaign and our members, create awareness of, and interest in, products and services bearing the Origin Oman logo. It is a marketing effort which members should complement with their own activities. Although we do not directly assist members with their marketing and sales strategies, we do give advice to members on leveraging their association with Origin Oman.

Can I be supplied with Origin Oman promotional items?
Yes. A range of Origin Oman items are available at a nominal cost. Check our website, www.originoman.om

How do I communicate the merits of my products or services to other members?
There are a number of ways of doing this:
1. You can advise other members of your membership of Origin Oman.
2. You should take advantage of the networking opportunities created by workshops and forums organised by Origin Oman.
3. Send messages via the campaign's communication material whenever opportunities arise.

What do I do if I buy an Origin Oman product or service that turns out to be of poor quality?
Our Code of Practice provides for a grievance procedure to be followed in such situations. You must lodge a formal complaint with Origin Oman. We then set the procedure in motion, requesting the provider of the product or service to respond within a certain period. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, we then start a mediation process with a view to settling the complaint.

Can I promote Origin Oman internationally?
Definitely yes, but it is the responsibility of members to familiarise themselves with existing trade protocols and market conditions that could affect your business activities in the international market.

Has Origin Oman plans to go international?
The campaign is focused specifically on the domestic market. We will extend our activities abroad once we have achieved satisfactory success at home. However, we do undertake to assist members leverage their brands via our relationships and partnerships with like-minded international organisations.

Member’s Code of Conduct
o To promote the aims and objectives of Origin Oman.
o To work in collaboration with fellow members.
o To source locally thereby reducing food kilometres.
o To work together with fellow members to build supply chains, retaining the economic benefit within local communities.
o To ensure that the Origin Oman brand represents local provenance and quality to the public.
o You agree that Origin Oman may record and store information and materials you have posted, transmitted, sent or communicated on the Origin Oman website.
o We reserve the right to refuse any application for membership if, in our absolute discretion, we consider that the applicant does not meet the standards required of members, as set out in these Membership Criteria, Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct or in any other document published for that purpose by Origin Oman. The decision of Origin Oman will be final.
o We reserve the right to terminate the membership of any member if, in our absolute discretion, we consider that the member has failed to comply with, or maintain, the standards required of members as set out in these Membership Criteria, Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct or in any other document published for that purpose by Origin Oman. The decision of Origin Oman will be final. In the event of terminating the membership on these grounds, notice of termination will be given to the member and all benefits will immediately cease, but there shall be no entitlement to a refund of any sums paid by that member.
o If an application for membership is refused, or membership is cancelled, Origin Oman accepts no liability whatsoever for any alleged loss which may result.
o In granting membership Origin Oman reserves the right to require any member alter, remove or cease any form of sales production and sale of goods associated in any way with Origin Oman that contravenes any current relevant legislation or brings, or is likely to bring Origin Oman into disrepute.
o All intellectual property rights on and relating to the Origin Oman site and in the logos, including trademarks, trade names or other signs, vest in Origin Oman.
o All marketing and other materials bearing the Origin Oman name or logo must only be used in accordance with the Origin Oman guidelines. On termination of membership, the licence granted to the member of Origin Oman to use its logo, marketing information or any other material of any description (“the materials”) is immediately terminated and the materials must, at its option, either be returned to Origin Oman or destroyed.
o Any member is entirely responsible for the accuracy of all information included on the site concerning that member. Information provided will be available to members of the public. However, Origin Oman reserves the right to reject, edit or remove at any time any information which Origin Oman, in its absolute discretion, considers is unsuitable for any reason whatsoever.
o Origin Oman will inspect /audit a member before approval of their application and at any time in the future.
o Membership will be conditional upon the payment in full of the required annual subscription charges as set out by Origin Oman.

Style Guide for Members
This guide will tell you when and how to use the Origin Oman branding. It is important that our members adhere to these guidelines to preserve the overall image of Origin Oman and its membership.
Origin Oman reserves the right to refuse requests to the use of the logo in any circumstances it deems inappropriate and in the event of non compliance with such a request, or use not strictly in accordance with this guide, to take appropriate action against the relevant member.
There is one distinct logo to be used. Only the original image supplied by Origin Oman should be used to generate any publicity or marketing materials. Please contact ibtisam@originoman.om for copies of the appropriate image.

The Origin Oman logo can be used on:

o Letterhead, marketing promotions and at premises.
o Products that meet the Origin Oman criteria - fruit, vegetables, meats etc must have spent the majority of its life in Oman. All products made must have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible are sourced from products originating in Oman. Full details will need to be provided for all products for which you seek approval to use the logo. These details will include but are not limited to identity/source of raw ingredients, location of manufacturing/processing and other information requested by Origin Oman. Approval must be granted before the logo may be used.
o Your website. Please provide a link to www.originoman.om
o Use in any other circumstances is to be approved by Origin Oman.

Who do I contact?
Further information on Origin Oman is available from our website, www.originoman.om or e-mail us on: members@originoman.om
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Monday, December 10, 2007

PEIE's Value Stream Mapping

The Oman Manufacturing Group (www.peie.om/OMG.shtml) will hold its final seminar for 2007 on Sunday 16 December at 7:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hote Muscat.

A panel of manufacturing experts led by S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries (pictured) that includes, Amrou Al Sharif, Teclution; Raza Ashraf, Total Alignment; Manoj Manoharan, Jotun Paints; and Venkatesh, Savoir Faire Management Consultancy will discuss Value Stream Mapping and Lean Manufacturing processes two of the most powerful techniques to reduce manufacturing bottlenecks and increase organizational efficiency.

In the face of increasing global competition, manufacturing companies across Oman face a number of growing challenges from reducing costs, improving marketing, packaging, design and product quality, training, introducing new technology through to speeding up production processes. In order to help manufacturers meet these challenge, the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) has organised a series of four OMG Seminars for owners, managers, supervisors and others who are committed to improving their manufacturing performance. These have been held throughout 2007 and according to Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing “have been tremendously popular with Oman’s manufacturing community, we’ve been delighted with the OMG feedback received from businesses that have attended the OMG Seminar Series that was launched in March.”

Delivered by experienced manufacturing practitioners, “the OMG Seminar Series has introduced best practice ideas and practical tools and techniques to Omani manufacturers. The three seminars that I’ve attended have been highly participative and great networking events,” says Teclution’s Regional Manager, Amrou Al Sharif.

According to Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE: “OMG is the voice of Oman’s manufacturers and was designed specifically to raise the profile of the Sultanate’s manufacturing sector. Together with our partners we’ve delivered a series of top-class seminars that I believe have gone a long way to helping manufacturers grow, export and succeed.”

Susie Houh of Ericsson and a supporter of PEIE’s OMG Seminar Series commented: “OMG offers manufacturers and those servicing the sector the opportunity to meet with each other, share experiences and discuss the challenges that the sector faces. It’s an initiative that aims to help Oman-based manufacturers shortcut the learning curve on the key issues that will help them grow.”

Gen Y Panel Notes

Here are the panel notes prepared for last night's (9 December 2007) Generation Y Digital Nation seminar held on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

1). The term Generation Y (Gen Yers)
The term Generation Y (Gen Yers) first appeared in an August 1993 magazine AD Age editorial to describe those born between 1981–1995.The scope of the term has changed greatly since then, to include, in many cases, anyone born as early as 1976 and late as 2000.

2). Oman’s Demographics – Large Gen Y Community
3,204,897 note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2007 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years: 42.7% (male 698,461/female 670,793) 15-64 years: 54.6% (male 1,026,686/female 723,712) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 47,534/female 37,711) (2007 est.)

Median age - Total: 18.9 years Male: 21.5 years Female: 16.5 years (2007 est.)

3). Gen Y & Rebirth of Community Spirit
"Personal computing is more and more 'interpersonal' - people use computers to relate to others online" (Crainer quoting Tapscott, 273, 2006). Written almost 10 years ago, Tapscott's prediction that the internet would become a community springboard rather than an isolating phenomena has come true. Commonly referred to as "Web 2.0," this new movement of up and coming websites is all about interaction, communication, and mass customization. Instead of viewing the web as a conglomerate of static pages designed by a group of highly skilled programmers, Web 2.0 sites encourage browsers to make spaces that are all their own (customized templates, backgrounds, music, etc.) while at the same time integrating features that instantly connect like-minded others. Blogging is just one example of this community trend. Not only are people able to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with the world at large, but many bloggers find that the "at large" part isn't as big as many assume....

4). Use of Technology
From older Baby Boomers to young adults, people use the same kinds of technology, but it's Gen Y that's integrating it into their daily lives at a faster rate than ever before, a research firm said Monday.

Generation Yers are spending more time online, watching less TV, engaging in more social computing activities, such as instant messaging; and using more social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Youtube than any other generation.

Mobile phone use provides the best example of how the younger generation is integrating technology into their lifestyles. Fully, 45 percent of Gen Yers who have mobile phones use data services, led by text messaging, ring tones and games.

That percentage, however, drops significantly for the older generations. Fully, 27 per cent of phone-carrying Gen Xers, defined as 27 to 40 years old; and 17 per cent of younger Baby Boomers, 41 to 50 years old, use data services.

Gen Yers spend an average of 12.2 hours online every week, which is 28 per cent longer than Gen Xers and almost twice as long as older Boomers, which range from 51 to 61 years old, Gen Yers are 50 per cent more likely than Gen Xers to send text messages, twice as likely to read blogs and three times as likely to use social networking sites.

When it comes to online shopping, Gen Xers lead the charge. This year, 16.9 per cent of Gen Xers are expected to shop online, compared with 9.6 per cent of older Boomers, 12.4 percent of younger Boomers and 4 per cent of Gen Yers. Those numbers are not surprising, considering that the prime spending years are 27 to 50 years old. Fully 41 per cent of US household now shop online.

When it comes to online banking, however, Gen Yers lead with 67 per cent having checked bank account balances during the last three months, compared with 64 per cent for Gen Xers, 53 per cent for younger Boomers and 49 per cent for older Boomers.

5). Bit More on Marketing
Marketers trying to anticipate future consumer trends should tune in to Gen Yers. As these do-it-yourselfers become a primary consuming audience, they will carry with them their cross-channel shopping enthusiasm, active blog usage, and reliance on the information-scouring powers of Google.

One key data point that stands out: 24% of Gen Yers read blogs, which is twice as often as the 12% of Gen Xers (ages 27-40) and three times the 7% of Young Boomers (ages 41-50) that read blogs. So sceptics of blogs should suspend their disbelief and look to at least one bellwether demographic to get an idea of how widespread blog readership can potentially grow in the future.

This then begs the question whether marketers should have a blog themselves to connect with blog readers. The answer is a qualified "yes", with the huge caveat that companies shouldn't have a blog just to have one. The better question to ask is whether you are interested in engaging in a different type of dialogue that this generation seeks in its regular interactions -- one characterized by give and take and a culture of generosity. All too often, marketers see blogs as yet another channel through which they can foist their existing marketing messages but beware as Gen Yers can sniff insincerity out in a nanosecond.

6). Profiling Gen Yers
The Tough Side: Generation Yers tend to share a number of common characteristics, many of which fly in the face of their Boomer and Xer predecessors' values.

They're impatient. Gen Yers have been raised in a fast-paced world dominated by technology and instant gratification. The result: Speed, not patience, is their virtue. Don't be surprised if they chafe at many-stepped processes and bureaucracy — or prefer to vault over, rather than methodically ascend, the corporate ladder.

They're skeptical. Generation Y wears a BS detector on top of its head - and why not? They've been scammed to, lied to and exploited.

They're disengaged. According to a November 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation Report, "Kids and Media @ The New Millennium," 8 to 18 year olds are exposed to almost eight hours of media each day—including TV, videos, computers and video games. As a result, expect this generation to eschew single, focused challenges in favour of multiple and varied projects.

They're blunt and expressive. Told repeatedly to Just Do It, Gen Yers value self-expression over self-control and speak their minds freely — a tendency that can get them in trouble when dealing with customers, co-workers or people in authority.

This doesn't mean, however, that Generation Y doesn't heed respect. But Generation Y won't automatically offer up their respect just because someone is older or has a title.

The Bright Side: Like any generation, what makes Generation Y difficult to deal with is also what makes it uniquely skilled. A number of talents and tendencies dominate, including the fact that they are:

· adaptable
· techno savvy
· able to grasp new concepts
· multi-taskers
· efficient
· tolerant

Perhaps the most surprising attribute many Gen Yers share is a sense of commitment. They pledge their hearts and souls to causes that they believe in, which makes them very loyal employees.

Money Isn't—Mostly—Everything
Compensation plays a tricky role for Generation Y. While it isn't the end all and reward all that it often has been for previous generations of workers, when the chips are down, it still makes a difference.

Marketing to Gen Yers: Getting it Right?
Here are 14 ways to improve your marketing success to Generation Y

1. Avoid clich├ęs and insincerity.
2. Avoid hype.
3. Use sound bites, strong images and short snappy phrases.
4. Keep your marketing text concise.
5. Use plenty of cool graphics.
6. Keep the tone of your marketing campaign low-key and sincere.
7. Show concern for the environment.
8. Understand that they expect instant gratification.
9. Appeal to their sense of being technologically savvy.
10. Emphasize the functional benefits of your products/services.
11. Be realistic and offer practical information.
12. Emphasize quality.
13. Understand that this group is bright, technically astute and sophisticated buyers.
14. Keep abreast of trends and respond quickly to its ever-changing needs and wants.

7). Creating Brand Recognition for Gen Y
Creating brand recognition with Gen Y can be tough. By practically becoming an extension to their computers and mobile devices, they are quickly moving the bulk of marketing to the Internet. Where is all that time being spent online though? For many, it's on games. Believe it or not, online games are forms of social networking too. We're not just talking about Yahoo! Pool but a host of others like World of Warcraft, Lineage II, and Everquest — games that have subscribers in the millions and boast annual sales in the billions. In these simulated worlds, players can chat, shop, create interest groups, throw parties and do virtually anything save their homework.If you're looking to provide interactive content for Gen Yers, games may be the way to go. Some hotel and automobile marketers like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Ford, and Toyota and have already taken advantage of cross-promotion opportunities. Many brands make their appearance in virtual worlds through clothing and food as well.

8). Blogging
Information used to be controlled by a powerful few but now Gen Yers are revolutionizing things with the Internet. This generation no longer settles for what big companies are willing to offer and instead are finding their own ways to get exactly what they want. Marketers should be keen to notice that this doesn’t exclusively apply to products but information too.
Back in the day, it was okay for companies to stay low-key on the Web but now more than a main site is required to connect with the wired Gen Yers. While many Gen Yers frequently check blogs, podcasts and emails, a large percentage of business executives reported that they had no plans to spread information about their companies on blogs or community sites. This can be troublesome to companies unaware of their reputations from other Generation Y sources. Moreover, Gen Yers are less prone to trust big companies due to a disparity in attitudes.

9). Gen Y Leads Purchasing Decisions
Gen Y is seen as one of the most lucrative market segments for many online brands. Now, a new study reported in an article by USA Today asserts that Generation Y surpasses the Baby Boomers in purchasing power and heavily influences most family purchase decisions.
Often studied by marketers as the leaders in new fashion trends, Generation Y is turning away from department stores, such as JC Penney or Dillard’s, and favoring high-end brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, and Express for their clothing needs. They are also more likely to bargain shop at places like Goodwill or similar thrift stores than to shop at department stores, mixing a need for high-fashion with a sense of fiscal frugality.

Similar trends can be traced across the retail spectrum, from automobiles to electronics. Generation Y’s need for immediacy will steer them towards discount webs sites offering free shipping such as eBay Express or Overstock.com and away from text-intensive sites with poor navigation. Retailers would be smart to acknowledge that Gen Y associates a quality made web site with a quality brand and vice versa.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gen Yers on KOM's Radar

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will host its fourth and final Digital Nation seminar for 2007 at 7:30pm Sunday 9 December on KOM. Panelists for the event include: Riyadh Al Balushi, Oman3D; Jeremy Foster, Ericsson; Graham Porter, Cisco; Daniel Pinto, Netsolo; and Tariq Al Barwani, Nawras.

Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline, SAP Arabia, Infocomm and Omania e-Commerce, Sunday’s seminar is entitled iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World. According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing “iGeneration or Generation Y as they’re also known were born between 1978 – 1998 and account for a large slice of Oman’s population. Indeed, statistics reveal that the sultanate’s median age is just 18.9.”

Gen Yers are often characterized as ambitious, self-absorbed, gregarious, demanding, confident and believe they can change the world. They are the offspring of baby-boomers, a generation of Omanis now preparing for retirement and relying on their children to produce the wealth needed to finance their old age.

Karim Rahemtulla, MD of Infocomm, an M-commerce firm based on KOM described Gen Yers as the "world's first truly mobile and connected generation". He added: "Through our community portal, isurf.co.om we have a tremendous amount of contact with Gen Yers and this is a generation that has grown up with technology, they’ve access to the Internet, laptops, wi-fi, Google, iPods, CD, DVD, MP3, SMS and MMS. This multitude of choice, this instant connectivity, this speed of globalization is all they’ve ever known. In fact, this is a generation that has never had to memorize a phone number or had to get off the sofa to change a satellite TV channel.”

Technology is the buzz word when it comes to Generation Y. Personal computers and the Internet have transformed both the home and school environment. A recent study predicts that current 10 to 17-year olds will spend one-third of their lives (circa 23 years) on the Internet. “You probably won't find too many Gen Yers in the library and it's unlikely that you’ll find them flicking through a ‘real’ dictionary or consulting a thesaurus, it’ll all be done online,” suggests Nasser Al Rahbi, Marketing Officer at KOM.

In 2000, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), a popular form of instant communication among Gen Yers, boasted 90 million registered users and 2.4 million simultaneous users. Since then it has gown tremendously. According to Time magazine, a new user registers to join the AIM community every 3.5 seconds.

Cisco’s Graham Porter and moderator for tomorrow evening’s Digital Nation seminar says: “It’s AOL statistics that indicate how tech savvy Gen Yers are. Blogs, e-mail, online games, satellite TV, iPods and smart phones have elevated their mobility tremendously, these folk are truly global. In my view, Oman-based companies must begin to measure, understand and embrace this permanently changing landscape. Research is required into how Gen Yers operate. Indeed, if firms neglect this booming and IT centric generation they risk degradation of brand equity and failure to draw new customers.”


Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Millennials An Untapped Market

Companies are unprepared for the technology demands of today’s youth, suggests a survey carried out by Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

KOM’s survey revealed that many companies have no immediate plans to allow customers to buy products or services online. Indeed, many of those surveyed said they had no plans to provide online forums for customers to discuss products or services. Moreover, they had no immediate plans to monitor customer discussions on websites or blogs.

The survey was carried out in preparation for KOM’s forthcoming Digital Nation seminar scheduled for 7:30pm, Sunday 9 December at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat. Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline SAP Arabia and Omania e-Commerce, the 9 December Digital Nation seminar is entitled iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World which will look at “Millennials” - youngsters born between 1980 and 2000 - and their use of the Internet and the communication tools that the public and private sector need to use to reach this tech savvy generation.

“Millennials account for a large and growing portion of Oman’s workforce. This is a generation that’s grown up with the Internet and they don't remember a world without it. They’re comfortable sourcing commercial information and news from the Web. They communicate socially via e-mail, SMS, shop online, blog and use sites like Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and Facebook. Just consider some basic figures, over 65,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube every day and according to Technorati over 120,000 blogs are launched each day – this is the awesome power of Web 2.0 and Millennials are driving it,” remarks Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing (pictured).

KOM’s survey revealed that Oman-based executives recognise the importance of Millennials and their contribution to the growth and development of Oman’s economy but acknowledged that they weren’t responding to the generation’s commercial requirements. “The survey clearly reveals that local businesses need to do more to meet this emerging group's online needs. Indeed, it’s evident that Millennials are driving a revolution in the way products and services are chosen, developed and procured. Customer endorsements on blogs are becoming very important and businesses need to wake up to the relevance of what’s happening online. Many are unaware of what’s happening online and the influence Millennials have on how products and services are bought and sold,” says Al Faruji.

The Digital Nation seminar is open to all and free of charge. To register, e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to: info@kom.om