One of the largest segments in the consumer spending industry is the Lifestyle segment. This segment basically focuses on the well-being of an individual and also gives importance to rest, relaxation with modern day flare. It encompasses such things such as art, home decor, fashion, health, education and of course, confectionery. The Modah store located in Mississauga, Ontario however, went further by tapping into a segment…of this segment. Modah focuses on being the largest Canadian lifestyle store catered to the people practicing the Islamic Faith or people who have an affinity towards Middle-Eastern design and flare.
According to a report by Thomson Reuters, Muslim consumer spending on food and lifestyle products and services was estimated at $1.8 trillion (USD) globally in 2014 and is projected to reach $2.6tn in 2020. Major brands such as Mango and DKNY have begun to adapt to this audience by introducing more modest clothing ranges, but it has also inspired a raft of new start-ups from within the Muslim community.
Just from this stat alone, many businesses are popping up especially in the Greater Toronto Area. The one issue they all face is how and where can they be able to showcase their products and generate sales? Back in 2012, Samir Aziz’s wife, Nafiza, possessed a small home-based business selling women’s clothing. As her success and publicity began to rise in the community, many other people who sold various other products always approached the couple to find ways in marketing their goods as well. From that, Samir & Nafiza had an idea to actually open a brick and mortar store not only selling the women’s clothing they initially ventured into, but also engage other fledgling entrepreneurs to take part by displaying their products to sell. The store needed to be in a prime location where Muslims frequent quite often and finally settled on a 4,500 sq ft unit in 2014 in the Dixie and Eglinton area of Mississauga where numerous other restaurants and various establishments currently reside. Due to the large space, just having their clothing business and one or two other branded products wasn’t enough to alleviate some of the overhead costs. So Samir and Nafiza had an idea and that was to beautify the store space to mimic the stylings of a Pier-1 Imports or a Homesense and invite vendors to be part of a business trade show at their grand opening. The idea was a success and other business vendors loved the chic modern look, high-traffic location and the Modah founders themselves enough that a new lifestyle department store was born.
Samir’s background in the telecommunications and IT fields got him interested in the whole social media craze in marketing as it involved the use of technology and online strategies. On top of that, Samir and his team aren’t just posting pictures and waiting for feedback. He has proactively utilized metrics in analyzing where the feedback was coming from, who was engaging with his brand and what products were being popularized through his social media avenues.
Some of the main challenges for the Samir & Nafiza – the Husband & Wife duo at Modah was the time and commitment required to keep up with the demands of social media. Posting new products and announcing various events taking place at the store was the easy part. Finding out what the reactions of those postings proved to be more difficult as both Samir & Nafiza had to basically stare and scroll through all the postings to see the level of engagement. On top of that, adopting to various social media channels such as their own website, Facebook and Instagram, they weren’t really sure which one was the avenue that was becoming more popular and also which products for that matter and in their initial stages of running the store, they opted out in using Instagram more which later proved to be a mistake due to its immense popularity in 2014.
Samir Aziz had to implement some strategies to ensure that maximum engagement and store awareness was being put forth. With that, he adapted to the Instagram craze, but he needed to go further and ensure his efforts weren’t fruitless. He first looked to Hootsuite to gather the metrics required to give him that valuable feedback, but for whatever reason Hootsuite didn’t provide the analytics needed off the Instagram application. He then installed Iconosquare which was a formidable tool in tracking all metrics and data off Instagram.
Iconosquare is probably the best tool available out there for Instagram marketers and ardent users. Basic functionalities of the app are reused but presented in a neater fashion. Some features are unique and can’t be found elsewhere, which give the web-based platform the edge. Whether you are commencing or already experienced with the app, Iconosquare will give you a better picture of your Instagram account. (Alex Bourgeois, Apr 23, 2014)
Along with Iconosquare, Facebook upped their metrics game and they, too, started providing some insight to viewer engagement and activity through their indepth Facebook for Business page. This allowed Modah to receive the metric information for all activity from their two main sources for marketing.
Since the launch of Modah – Canada’s Largest Islamic Lifestyle Store – in 2014 by husband and wife Samir & Nafiza Aziz, they have seen a tremendous outpouring of support and customer engagement. Not only locally, but nationally and internationally. Samir adds, “80% of our store’s product are from outside vendors and that’s mainly due to the fact that we take away a large percentage of the headaches in running a business away from those vendors”. On top of that, their popularity has risen to such an extent that a lot of the marketing tasks are not even handled at the management level, but rather on ‘influencers‘ on the outside. Various bloggers, popular figures in the community and even political figures tweet, retweet and feature their store and products in their own way to get the word out which has paid dividends.
Following and analyzing the valuable information provided by the metrics they received allows them to see where users are engaged with the store and what products are most popular. This proves to be a huge selling point in acquiring such social data as it will allow Modah to put certain products in the forefront when there is a high frequency of views and visits. One such example Samir explains,
Through the metrics and data acquired, I found that there was an uptick in searching for Chocolate Dates. When I saw that, I immediately put those products on the featured products page of our website and with that saw a surge in sales for that particular product.
This clearly shows that Samir and his team are always on the lookout for the vendors they have currently employed in the store and with that, entrepreneurs from all over are always looking to stock his shelves due to his willingness to always find ways to showcase them. With over 24 vendors inhabiting store shelves, the launch of his own private brand “Modah Home” out of his store and the enormous community engagement with Modah due to various childrens, fitness and other women-focused classes, sales have more than tripled since the first year of business.
Lessons for Others
When Modah first opened in 2014, both founders and husband and wife due Samir & Nafiza Aziz bring about to not only sell their own products, but also commission the services of various other vendors and entrepreneurs to get on board as well. Their social media presence was still in its basic stages, but when Samir implemented social data and track data and metrics to further his marketing efforts, that’s when Modah’s reputation and presence in the market started to take off. The metrics of social media is not just about engaging customers, but also utilizing the data to push the brand or service that the business you are currently involved in just like the Chocolate Dates scenario as discussed earlier.
If engagement metrics are the primary or only way you are evaluating your social media effectiveness, then you are indeed doing it wrong. However, if you disregard engagement numbers completely, you may be missing out on valuable information. The smart marketer never relies on any one metric, but takes into consideration the interplay of many different factors. (Mark Traphagen on Jan 22, 2015)
Samir Aziz does goes onto add that even though social media may not be something you always enjoy getting yourself involved with due to the growing culture of it being used as a popularity contest, it does have its good points because it provides you with clear insight as to how your business is faring in the open market with much needed data provided. The metrics and data cannot be ignored as that will give you a clear understanding of where and when to make changes.
Industry: Retail, Lifestyle, Store
Name of Organization Contact: Samir Aziz, Owner
Authored by: Safi
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