Instagram website is often seen as a place to share "selfies", fun and unforgettable snapshots, but the visual social platform has proven its great potential for a growing number of Kuwaiti entrepreneurs and internet-savvy consumers alike. With hundreds of thousands of users in Kuwait and millions of photos shared on a daily basis, Instagram turned into a virtual goldmine for entrepreneurs who figure out how to use the photo-driven site to their advantage.
"A growing number of people, particularly women, are turning to Instagram to either market their products and brands or purchase ones," Director General of Castle Technology, an IT developer and e-commerce company, Hashem Behbehani told KUNA. Entrepreneurs who embraced Instagram are seeing a significant boost in their businesses. They have managed to lure a growing number of clients with captivating imagery and visually compelling content.
"Foodstuff tops the list of marketed products followed by cosmetics, clothes and accessories," he said. Behbehani argued that the Instagram helps owners of businesses, especially the small ones, to reach and effectively interact with the biggest number of clients almost instantly and without cost.
"It is a great marketing tool for those who has no store or company to display or promote their products either for lack of enough capital to purchase or rent premises or because of the bureaucracy and time-wasting efforts to get a license." Shopper Ibrahim Al-Essa echoed a similar view. "Social networking websites, especially Instagram, have become virtual market that consumers follow up the latest displayed products at any time or any place through their computers or smart phones," he told KUNA.
Al-Essa said that he follows up the accounts of a number of companies and home-based businesses. For her part, Dressmaker Iqbal Al-Ali said she has launched her home-based business in 2009 and was marketing its products among its relatives and acquaintances. But after using the Instagram to promote her products, demand has gone crazy, she said.
Al-Ali noted that Instagram has successful done the job at a very low cost. She argued that the high cost of shop rents, labor and the complication of the procedures for a license have dissuaded her from having an outdoor business.
Pastry Shop Owner Yusuf Al-Hamad has a similar experience. "A friend advised me to try to market my products through the Instagram website. I have so shortly and to my surprise the account went viral and the number of followers increased on a daily basis," Al-Hamad told KUNA.
"On parallel with the rise of the Instagram account followers, the demand for the products jumped. He unveiled that he has to expand his business and increase the number of workers to meet the growing demand. "For me, the marketing through the Instagram was a game-changer." Despite that there are some people who still do not have confidence in the products marketed from the Internet as a whole, including the Instagram.
"I do not like products marketed through the internet because they do not subject to health, commercial and legal scrutiny," Fatima Al-Nouri, who describes herself as a shopping addict, told KUNA. "There is no official mechanism to guarantee the quality of the products or the legal rights of the consumers."