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PwC reveals Middle East findings of its Global Consumer Insights Survey

March 26, 2019

  • Customer experience is top of mind for Middle East consumers
  • Smartphone shoppers dominate: survey reveals that the biggest growth in mobile payment was experienced in the Middle East, reaching 45% this year
  • Social media still king: 60% of Middle East respondents say social media influenced their fashion purchasing decisions and 53% for tech purchases

Dubai, UAE 26 March 2019: Consumers are increasingly using digital technology for more than just shopping.

Since 2010, PwC has annually surveyed over twenty thousand consumers around the globe to track shopping behavior. In this year’s survey, we reached out to more than 22,000 consumers in 27 territories across the globe, including 1,004 respondents from the Middle East.

The Middle East findings of PwC’s Global Consumer Insights survey released today reveals that customer experience is at the heart of what Middle East consumers are looking for. For the first time in the 10 years that PwC has conducted this survey, consumers surveyed are using smartphones over other mobile devices to shop online, with 24% of consumers using a smartphone to shop online weekly.

Middle East key findings

Shopping by Channel

In-store is still the shopping channel of choice at both the Middle East and global level though smartphones are running a close second, especially in the region. This year, for the first time, smartphones outpace PC as a channel, with smartphone growth estimated at a 54% CAGR from 2016 to 2019 in the Middle East.

In-store Experiences

Middle East consumers’ in-store experiences rely on a balance of engagement through store layout, the store’s digital connectivity, and personalisation.


The survey reveals that the biggest growth in mobile payment was experienced in The Middle East, with a 45% increase in mobile payment usage over the period of one year. That is almost double the rate of Western markets and globally, an overall increase of 24% was seen over the past year.

The Middle East results differ by geography with KSA leading the way, followed closely by the UAE. Egypt lags behind with only 29% choosing mobile payment options.

This is a long way from a few years back when Saudi consumers preferred cash on delivery payment and reported the lowest percentage of payment via credit cards.

Meanwhile, the survey found that Middle East consumers are not afraid to pay a premium. This is especially true of purchases related to health and wellness products, followed by technology/home entertainment and fashion.

Shipping & Delivery

Consumers’ willingness to pay for quick delivery has declined due to an increase in retailer offering free next day delivery. Only 21% of Middle Eastern respondents were willing to pay for same-day delivery (vs. 41% last year).

Online Retail Market

Over the years, shoppers in the region increased their shopping with Amazon; with 76% shopping with Amazon at some point. What is more interesting is that 23% of Middle East respondents use Amazon exclusively (vs 12% globally).

Online Grocery

Regional shoppers enjoy ordering their groceries online; but this is a recent trend. 73% of Middle Eastern shoppers are overall ‘likely to purchase groceries online in the next 12 months’ compared to 50% globally: a noticeable increase from last year with 58% Middle Eastern shoppers likely to purchase groceries online vs 48% globally.

Social Media

It is no secret that social media is more widely used in the region, than anywhere else in the world; and the power of social media on regional consumers’ buying behaviours came through clearly in the Middle East, when compared to global results. 60% of Middle East respondents say social media influenced their ‘fashion’ purchases, followed by 53% who cited technology purchases.

Norma Taki, Middle East Consumer Markets Leader at PwC comments:

“It is time for consumer related metrics - ROI should not be the only measure. Consumers are looking for a seamless and easy purchasing journey, and companies can achieve this by mixing physical or human elements into digital interactions. The result is a greater return on experience with the customer and more lasting results for businesses.”

For a full copy of the report please visit:

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Established in the Middle East for 40 years, PwC has 22 offices across 12 countries in the region with around 5,200 people (

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Dalia Adawieh

Director, PR & External Communications Leader, PwC Middle East

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