Danya Alalaiwat

Creating a community brand – an interview with Danya Alalaiwat, Alosra’s Senior Marketing Executive

Alosra’s Senior Marketing Executive, Danya Alalaiwat, joined the team in 2013, and has been one of the key people behind the brand’s evolution and creative direction over the years. We recently sat down with Danya to learn more about her experience, the Alosra brand and its commitment to the local community.

How has your role developed since you started out at Alosra?

Initially, I worked with the stores and dealt mainly with their marketing requirements such as signage, promotional aspects and handling sponsorships. Since then, my job scope has really expanded. As we progressed, the brand really evolved, and so did my responsibilities. I went from dealing with agencies, to learning more about how to do things in-house. During that time, my graphic design skills were really enhanced. This was efficient for the business not only cost wise, but also in terms of speed and having the creative liberty over everything. This went on for a few years, and I was gaining and developing new skills every day. A few months ago, I got promoted to Senior Marketing Executive and now I’m in charge of the Alosra marketing team.

What changes have you seen with the brand over the years?

When you look back, you can see that the team has really made a difference from how the brand started to where it is today. The sophistication of the brand has evolved, as we worked on refining it and ensuring a more prominent brand presence. This applied to designs, store layouts and in-store signage, down to the fonts that now better serve our mission and values.

How do you think that the Alosra brand is different than the other supermarkets out there?

Personally, I believe Alosra does much more when it comes to branding, design and creativity, particularly in-store. I have heard from a lot of customers that they like to go to Alosra because it feels like they are walking into some of the supermarkets that they had visited in Europe or USA. We put a lot of effort into creating an ambience in the store that creates a welcoming experience.

Can you tell us some more about the team’s creative process?

Honestly, the creative process can be challenging at times, especially when you are trying to think of different ways to express the same message. I believe that our creativity comes from our love of food – who doesn’t love food? We all shop at Alosra, and our work involves stressing on the quality of our food and also our excellent customer service. Those two things come really easy, especially since we enter our stores and see all the friendly faces and the way our team interacts with customers. You can see that our customers love the team – they are all on a first name basis! And when it comes to our food, for example, I believe the Arabic pastries at Alosra are the best I’ve ever tried! I think it’s our passion about Alosra’s food and the quality of our products, as well as the amazing people on our team that really fuel our creative process as the Marketing team

What would you say your team’s role is in relation to customer experience?

Firstly, it’s the physical touch in the store and their visual experience as they shop with us. That’s the first thing we can contribute to. But we also help set Alosra’ tone of voice that we use to communicate with our customers, both in the stores and digitally. If you follow us on our social media accounts, you can see that we are playful and engaging in the way we connect with our online community. If you can see the direct messages our customers send us, the way they interact with us is very personal, and they continuously express how much they love the brand. So, we contribute to creating that personal touch online and in-store. We listen to what they want and what they like and we work with the rest of the Alosra team to serve them while also bringing a bit of ease and convenience into their lives.

Can you tell us more about Alosra’s community involvement?

Our ‘Think Local’ initiative is very important to us. We’re a local organisation that supports our community. We have also been recognised for a long time for our commitment to hiring and nurturing local talent. Being a Bahraini organisation is something we really pride, so it makes sense that we would showcase Bahraini products in our stores. When I first joined Alosra, our ‘Think Local’ programme supported one local farmer. We used to display his produce and conduct school trips for students to learn more about farming in Bahrain. Since then, the programme has really evolved. We’ve started dealing with a lot of new, local businesses that are up and coming but that might not know how to expand their business. We provide them with that platform to help them succeed. Some customers actually come in specifically to pick up these local products. Another example is how we expanded our fish counter since we realised people want more local fish, so we tie up with local fishermen to increase our offering. Alosra is really a community in which we aim to show off the local talent which we have in the country.

We also focus on community development work whenever we can. From providing local health centres with cakes for their celebrations of their staff, to catering field trips with healthy snacks for local schools, distributing Ramadan food baskets and much more, we try to cover various segments of the community. It is very rewarding to see that we are being approached more and more as people realise how eager we are to be involved and to support.

Are there any initiatives or events coming up that you are particularly excited about?

We have a very exciting event coming up called SuperValu week. SuperValu is an Irish supermarket that produces a range of Irish products, which we brought into Bahrain, and that we really want to educate audiences about. Their products are of really good quality, yet very well priced. We recently visited Ireland to learn more about SuperValu and have come to understand that they are like the Irish version of Alosra. We tied up with them not only because of their great products, but also because we share similar values – including supporting the local community.

We came up with the idea to create a pop-up market at the end of October to showcase SuperValu’s Irish products, while at the same time celebrating local entrepreneurs and highlighting their products. This way, we will be representing both cultures and both our brands’ commitment to local. We will be having the pop-up market on October 25 and October 26 in El Mercado in Janabiya on. There will also be exciting in-store activities and offers throughout the week leading up to the markets to highlight the products. We hope to see you all there!