Convenience is key: insights from the Middle East consumer

2020 Global Consumer Insights Survey explores urban consumers in the Middle East and the cities they live in.

For the past eleven years, PwC has surveyed thousands of consumers across the globe every year to track their shopping behaviour, lifestyle habits and more. This year, we focused on 19,000 urban consumers in 29 countries, including 1,002 respondents in the Middle East region.

The aim of the survey was to get an in depth look at consumers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Cairo — to really understand where and how they shop, what their lifestyle is like and why they choose to live in their city.

The findings highlight the unique differences between the consumers in the region and the ongoing transformation that our cities are experiencing compared to global.

How resilient Middle East consumers have responded to COVID-19

Our new report is based on a Global Consumer Insights Survey COVID-19 Pulse – a snapshot survey that analyses how consumer attitudes in the region have been affected by the lockdown. It identifies key regional trends to watch in a retail landscape likely to be impacted by social distancing and other virus-suppression measures for some time to come.

Click here to read the report

 

Key findings for the Middle East

Consumers in the Middle East and globally are still shopping both in-store and on their smartphones. Interestingly, we see a revival of the tablet as the number of consumers using this shopping channel has increased by 12% in the last two years.

Question: How often do you buy products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?

Similarly to global, Middle East consumers shop exclusively online when purchasing airline and rail tickets, hotels and entertainment tickets. When investing in large purchases such as furniture and jewellery consumers are more likely to shop at a physical store to get the full in-store experience.

Question: Which products do you buy exclusively online?
Question: Which products have you not purchased online in the last 12 months?

Middle East consumers prefer convenience and are more likely to use food delivery services than global consumers. In fact three out of five consumers have restaurant food delivered to their house at least once a week. As demand grows, so does choice and availability, making food delivery even more accessible for consumers in the region.

Question: Please indicate the frequency of your food delivery habits.

Four out of five consumers in the Middle East are expecting to spend the same or more in the next 12 months versus more cautious global consumers.

Question: In terms of your personal spend for the next 12 months, do you expect to:

Consumers continue to embrace mobile payments globally. Middle East consumers still lead on making purchases using in-store apps though this practice is becoming less popular.

Question: Which of the following payment activities have you undertaken using your mobile / smartphone / wearable device when shopping in-store?

Middle East consumers consider shopping a fun pastime and are more likely to shop at a physical store when personal shopping services, personalised in-store promotions and exclusive or limited edition offerings are available.

Regional consumers welcome new technologies and believe they would enhance their in-store experience. In fact, 4 out of 10 consumers would like to receive personalised offers on their smartphone when they enter a physical store and prefer completing their purchase using an automated checkout.

Thinking about when you shop at a physical store, please indicate, for the following categories which type of store you primarily purchase from?

12% of Middle East consumers shop for clothing and footwear at luxury stores.

5% of Global consumers shop for clothing and footwear at luxury stores.

What new technologies would enhance your in-store experience?
What brings you into a physical store in your selected city, rather than researching and purchasing online?

71% of Middle East consumers purchase at least some of their groceries online, and a third make microtrips to the grocery store or supermarket daily or more frequently. When it comes to delivery, shoppers expect instant gratification and are willing to pay for 0-2 hour delivery.

What is the longest delivery lead time you are willing to pay for when purchasing groceries?

Middle East consumers use platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to seek inspiration, particularly for fashion and technology purchases, but are less likely to buy directly through a shoppable post. Thanks to a continued push for transparency around paid partnerships, consumers are more aware than ever — only 19% reported to have been influenced to buy by a product or a service following an endorsement from a celebrity and 32% have been influenced to buy following a positive review on social media.

Still important in the customer journey but less likely to influence consumer purchasing decisions.

Thinking about social media channels and how you use them, which of the following activities describes your online behaviour?

Snapshot of my city

An in depth look at urban consumers across the Middle East

Consumers in Abu Dhabi:

  • Tend to be more cautious with their spending compared to consumers in other cities in the Middle East - almost a third plan to keep their personal spend the same in the next 12 months.
  • Favour in-store shopping more than consumers in other cities in the Middle East thanks to retailers emphasising in-store experiences and malls becoming lifestyle destinations.
  • Are frequent users of mobile payment platforms, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, to pay for purchases in-store. The banks and retailers have played an important role here, promoting mobile payments with rewards and most importantly focusing on the security behind the infrastructure to ease shopper’s concerns.
Question: In terms of your personal spend for the next 12 months, do you expect to:
Question: How often do you buy products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
Question: Which of the following payment activities have you undertaken using your mobile / smartphone / wearable device when shopping in-store?

Consumers in Dubai:

  • Access mobile loyalty and rewards coupons via apps, such as the Entertainer, more than consumers in the rest of the region and globally.
  • Use online grocery delivery services weekly and rely on food delivery apps more than consumers in other cities in the Middle East - in fact just 7% of respondents in Dubai said they never use food delivery apps.
  • Consider safety and security the primary reason for living in their city.
Question: Which of the following payment activities have you undertaken using your mobile / smartphone / wearable device when shopping in-store?
Question: Think about your city, which of the following features are the primary reasons why you live there?

 

 

Question: Please indicate the frequency of your food delivery habits.

Consumers in Riyadh:

  • Frequently shop online via smartphone - more than consumers in other cities in the Middle East - and are most likely to place an order using a mobile app, pay ahead and collect their purchase in-store.
  • Are most likely to order a meal kit from a food delivery subscription service, such as DailyMealz, at least once a week and are most inclined to book their hotel stays exclusively online.
Question: How often do you buy products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
Question: Which of the following payment activities have you undertaken using your mobile / smartphone / wearable device when shopping in-store?
Question: Please indicate the frequency of your food delivery habits.

Consumers in Jeddah:

  • Are most likely in the region to purchase the majority of their groceries online and to shop using a tablet.
  • Make more purchases using an in-store app than consumers in other cities in the region. They also pick up ready to eat meals at the supermarket at least once a week - almost a third of them do so more than two times a week.
Question: For each of the following product categories, how many of your purchases have you made online over the last 12 months (including purchases made from a computer, tablet or mobile/smartphone, wearable device or smart home voice assistant?
Question: How often do you buy products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
Question: Which of the following payment activities have you undertaken using your mobile / smartphone / wearable device when shopping in-store?
Question: Please indicate the frequency of your food delivery habits.

Consumers in Cairo:

  • Are particularly bullish due to the easing of inflation, with two thirds planning to spend more in the next 12 months than last year.
  • Are least likely in the region to shop online using their smartphone because of issues with connectivity. Instead they prefer to use more traditional shopping channels.
  • Indicate overwhelmingly that the main reason they live in their city is their social network.
Question: In terms of your personal spend for the next 12 months, do you expect to:
Question: How often do you buy products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
Question: Please rate your level of satisfaction with the speed of the broadband (internet connection) in your home?
Question: Think about your city, which of the following features are the primary reasons why you live there?

Survey methodology

We surveyed a total of 19,098 urban consumers in 29 countries, including 1,002 in the Middle East, between August and September 2019 to understand their shopping habits, lifestyle and preference for their city. In the region, we focused on five key cities: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Cairo.

Contact us

Norma Taki

Norma Taki

Transaction Services Partner and Consumer Markets Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 4 304 3100

Imad Matar

Imad Matar

Middle East Transaction Services Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +966 (11) 211 0400 (ext 1501)

Maye  Ayoub

Maye Ayoub

Partner, PwC Middle East

Tel: +20 100 666 6240

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Kaedyn Sheikh

Consumer Markets Industry Driver, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 (0) 56 996 0368

Lemmiki Ehatamm

Consumer Markets Industry Marketing, PwC Middle East

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