Experimental Retail: Vodafone’s Launch In Qatar

Vodafone has taken an interesting new approach to retail design in Qatar, where retail experiences are a national past-time, and the telecom industry is highly regulated and monopolized.

Vodafone has taken an interesting new approach to retail design in Qatar, where retail experiences are a national past-time, and the telecom industry is highly regulated and monopolized.

Working alongside Fitch, a branding and design consultancy based in London, the company is showing ambition to have themselves become the country’s most-admired mobile carrier.

Vodafone Qatar4

A press release from Fitch further details the cultural context and brand goals:

“The launch was pre-empted by the existing state-owned incumbent, Qtel, which bought up all Above-the-line media space for the next 3 years to try and neutralise the competitive threat before it had even arrived. Our brief from the client was specifically to create a space moved far beyond the standard way telecommunications retailing is generally approached, to set new standards in the category.”

Fitch has taken Vodafone’s three flagship stores, all of which are designed to the brand’s global store format and created immersive retail environments that encourage customer participation. They feature self-service touch-screen machines on which visitors can check out Vodafone’s offerings, in addition to edit their plans and pay bills.

Employing powerfully attractive design, the entrance of the store showcases a positioning statement “It’s a big world, jump in” and the logo image; Vodafone’s name is not mentioned anywhere on the storefront. Furthermore, Fitch explains the retail design as revolving around a focal ‘ignition point’, located at the centre of any given store. Customers are meant to flow into this central point and are then aided by staff or browse freely through printed materials and on the digital units.

Unique design features include:

  • Seamless interior furniture – all store workings are hidden… to ensure nothing detracts from the flow towards the central ignition point, including innovative magnetic modular wall bays along both sides.
  • Angular design language to bring the ignition spark to life in the environment, with premium mirrored finishes to appeal to the regional customers and convey the energy and vitality of the Vodafone brand personality.
  • Breaking with convention, the handsets are not given primary consideration in the space. The focus is very much on acquiring customers for Vodafone as a whole, rather than just enticing them with the latest gadgets.
  • The carefully placed lighting reflects off the reflective surfaces, enhancing the overall look and feel of the space and adding to the spark effect.”

Vodafone Qatar3

Interestingly, Fitch has a design strategy targeting various demographics and ethnicities living in Qatar in a rather stratified manner. To do this, Fitch’s launch strategy includes six smaller standard stores, mall-based retail kiosks, and a fleet of retail-trucks which travel to non-urban areas and worker camps. This consequently connects the brand to both Qataris and expatriate groups, introducing them collectively to Vodafone’s global community.

Vodafone Qatar

The level of sophistication which Vodafone is bringing to the market is, naturally, creating notable buzz both online and in Qatar’s press; Fitch and Vodafone are hoping that this buzz and the vibrant and innovative environment will lead to customer acquisition, especially given the fact that it is a new to the market and competing with massive state-owned companies such as Qtel.

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