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Middle East consumers are ESG conscious, digitally driven and more price-sensitive while shopping, according to PwC’s latest Global Consumer Insights Survey

September 06, 2022

  • 72% of Middle East consumers (vs 63% globally) say they have increased the amount of shopping they do online.

  • Supply chain disruptions and price rises are major concerns for consumers; 43% of respondents report that grocery prices have risen almost always or frequently in recent months.

  • ESG and sustainability factors affect Middle East consumers' decisions more than global consumers (31% in the Middle East, compared with 18% globally).

  • 63% of Middle East consumers say that data protection is an important factor in trusting a brand (compared with 58% globally).

6 September 2022 - Middle East shoppers are more conscious of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and sustainability factors while purchasing a product as per the Middle East findings of PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey - Pulse 4, “Agile and ESG conscious – the new post-pandemic Middle East consumer”.

The latest results reveal shoppers’ habits in terms of choosing retailers, shopping channels and outlets, and products’ features. At the same time, the survey explores how Middle East retailers are dealing with several challenges including higher costs and supply chain issues, and their efforts in retaining the loyalty of digitally savvy shoppers. 

While the region’s shoppers continue to be more price conscious amid increasing prices, both online and in-store outlets are facing various challenges. 48% of Middle East consumers (vs 57% globally) say grocery prices at physical stores have almost always or frequently increased since their last visit during the previous three months. Also, 54% of Middle East consumers (vs 56% globally) report that the rising prices for online grocery purchases was among the top three issues undermining their online shopping experience. Simultaneously, Middle East retailers are still wrestling with serious disruptions to their supply chains post-pandemic.

Norma Taki, PwC Middle East’s Consumer Markets Leader, said: “Certain consumer habits have been permanently reshaped by the pandemic, however, some pre-pandemic trends are emerging to influence consumers’ shopping decisions. Our latest findings explore that despite the Middle East shoppers’ price-sensitivity, they don’t mind paying more if the products are from recycled, sustainable or eco-friendly materials.” 

Adding: “Middle East consumers are also getting more sense of freedom as the region emerges from the pandemic. With increased consumers pursuing more leisure, recreation activities at home, and spending more on travel, retailers and consumer companies should understand how this affects their consumers’ spending decisions and should invest in shifting their supply chain strategies accordingly.”

Middle East consumers’ working, and personal lives are increasingly mobile

According to the survey, 31% of Egyptian respondents plan to increase their travel expenditure, compared with 39% in Saudi Arabia and 46% in the UAE. In parallel to the growing appeal of travel, 33% of Middle East consumers, compared with 41% in the previous Pulse 3 survey, say they are still planning to spend more on home entertainment in the next six months. These findings reflect the pandemic’s impact on Middle East consumers’ lifestyle. However, it is not the same for their work routines post pandemic, almost half of the respondents (47% of Middle East consumers) say their employers still require them to be in their workplace the whole time, while only 33% report that they are expected to adopt hybrid working.

Middle East consumers are leading by example on ESG issues with the older generation in the foreground

Remarkably, the Pulse 4 results revealed how the region’s shoppers are ahead of the rest of their global peers and leading by setting an example in considering ESG as a key factor in building consumer trust and when buying a product or service. 31% of Middle East respondents (vs.18% globally) say they would always recommend a company or brand with a good environmental record.

At the same time, there are some interesting differences on specific ESG issues between older and younger consumers. 65% of Gen X respondents (42-to-57 cohort) say that social considerations influence whether they would recommend a company or brand, compared with 50% of Gen Z respondents (10-to-25 cohort). Similarly, Gen X consumers (67%) are generally more likely to trust a brand because of environmental factors than the Gen Z generation (45%).  

Consumer trust in the Middle East is about data protection and more  

Middle East consumers still find that the protection of their personal data is the most important reason for trusting a brand (63% compared with 58% globally). This gap indicates the shape of the region’s consumer landscape; a young, digitally savvy generation of shoppers, and an accelerating economic transformation which is driven by new, safe technologies.   

Ultimately, the survey’s results explain how the Middle East consumers’ shopping behaviours are not just influenced by the pandemic, but also by the emerging trends financially, digitally, and socially. 

Middle East retailers need to resolve supply chain challenges, consider ESG factors and leverage new technologies to build trust with Middle East consumers and influence their purchasing decisions.

About PwC

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Established in the Middle East for 40 years, PwC has 22 offices across 12 countries in the region with around 7,000 people. (www.pwc.com/me).

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Middle East Marketing & Communications Leader, PwC Middle East

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