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Middle Eastern Influencers

This article is part of our series on Market Insight: Middle Eastern food.
You can view the full series or download the report.

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Middle Eastern cuisine is increasingly influencing not just what, but also how we eat. While its dishes and tastes are becoming more widespread in the Western world, evidence suggests this is just the beginning.

This week we explore the second of the key trends shaping the future of global food culture from our latest report.

Week 2: Middle Eastern Influencers

Given the Middle East has some of the highest social media usage in the world, it should be no surprise that celebrities from the region are savvy operators. They are finding new ways to spread awareness and increase their influence. To this end, in 2019, 5 Arab individuals made The Times’s 2019 ‘100 Most Influential People’ list, more than ever before.

This is particularly clear in the world of food – with restaurants and chefs from the region setting the pace for experience and engagement. Influencers from the region are connecting with global audiences, giving them new role models, insights and inspiration. For example, Nusret Gökçe’s (a.k.a Salt Bae) restaurant in New York was praised by the NY Times as the city’s “first true 21st-century restaurant” for its ability to combine lived and online experiences.

Beyond the personalities, the food style itself is changing the way we approach food in the West. Embodied by colourful mezze platters and multi-plate dining, the region exhibits food that is naturally suited to sharing both around a table and on Instagram. In combination, a recipe for success in setting the bar high!

So what?

While experience branding has been preached for a while, the Middle Eastern twist is a rich territory for new innovation. In the Instagram age, brands across the West should recognise and seek to learn from and incorporate these influencers and styles. Managers should look to take meals beyond fuel, inspire diners with the human faces of those experiences and utilise new technologies to amplify reach and global engagement.

Brand example: Knafeh Brothers, Australia

With a firm belief in ‘baking and shaking’, the Knafeh Brothers sell their mother’s perfectly sweet Knafeh recipe whilst dancing and singing along to traditional Middle Eastern music, bringing a new level of experience to the product and posting their performances on social media for everyone to celebrate food and culture from the region with them.

These brothers demonstrate how to deliver an elevated and inclusive experience in the moment, while also maximising longevity online. In combination with a great product, they have taken the brand to cult status.

Download your copy of the report now, and if you are interested in how to find the human future of the food market, then please get in touch!

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