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It’s time for consumer-centred metrics

2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey reveals what the Middle East Consumers want

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 regional findings vary from those at a global level, where we focus more so on how the customer experience is being redefined.

Key findings for the Middle East include:

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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 globally (second year in a row for the Middle East).

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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.

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Mobile payment usage in the Middle East is almost double the rate than in Western markets. Middle East consumers are willing to pay premium prices in all categories but especially on clothing/footwear, health and wellness, and dining out.

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Shipping & Delivery

Consumers’ willingness to pay for quick delivery has declined due to an increase in retailer offering free next day delivery.

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Online Retail Market

Amazon remains dominant in the region with 23% of Middle East consumers using Amazon exclusively (vs 12% globally).

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Online Grocery

The demand for online grocery shopping is increasing in the Middle East, with 73% of regional consumers likely to shop online vs 58% last year, and 50% globally.

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Social Media

Buying behaviours are heavily influenced in the region by social media than elsewhere in the world. Fashion purchases are the most influenced, followed by technology.

Shopping by channel

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

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 globally as a channel.

54% CAGR increase in smartphone usage from 2016-2019 in the Middle East

Note: Chart combines ‘daily’ and ‘weekly’ shopping

Improving the in-store experience

The in-store experience is an important factor to shopping in the Middle East. The overall shopping experience in the region is heightened, especially in UAE and KSA given the want to shop in-store. So we asked our regional shoppers for the first time this year, what attributes are most important to your in-store experience?

Spotlight on: Luxury in the region

Q. Thinking of majority of your purchases across the following categories, please indicate whether you to tend to buy low, mid or premium price ranges.

The region is not afraid to pay a premium, when asked ‘Middle East consumers were willing to pay a premium on health and wellness products followed by technology/home entertainment and clothing/footwear.

Payment through in-store apps lead the way

Our survey reveals that the biggest growth in mobile payment was experienced in the Middle East region to reach 45%. The results differ by geography with KSA leading the way, followed closely by the UAE. Egypt lags behind with only 29% choosing mobile payment.

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

Shipping & Delivery 

When we asked regional shoppers what is the longest delivery lead time you are willing to pay a fee for, the UAE showed a favourable response to ‘next day’. However, Egypt respondents are more willing to pay for 'delivery within 3-5 business”. KSA respondents were pretty steady across those two categories, plus ‘same day’ delivery.

This is a big drop from last year, where 41% of regional respondents were willing to pay for same day delivery.

Online retail market

23% of Middle East respondents say ‘I only shop with Amazon’ vs 12% globally

44% of Middle East respondents say ‘I start my product search at Amazon’

When consumers think online retail, they think Amazon, even in the region. So it makes sense for us to focus some of our research on this online retail giant.

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).

Amazon Middle East: Shop with Amazon




Online grocery shopping a regional favourite

Q. Over the next 12 months, how likely are you to purchase grocery online?

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 noticable increase from last year with 58% Middle Eastern shoppers likely to purchase groceries online vs 48% globally.

Social media influences buying behaviours

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

It is no secret that social media is more widely used in the region, than globally. Therefore it is not a surprise that social media should impact buying behaviours. The power of social media on regional consumers came through clearly in our results, when compared to global.

60% of Middle East respondents say social media influenced their ‘fashion’ purchase, followed by Technology purchases (at 53%)

Contact us

Norma Taki

Norma Taki

Transaction Services Partner and Consumer Markets Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 4 304 3100

Ali Hosseini

Ali Hosseini

Chief Digital Officer - Partner, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 4 304 3100

Danny Karam

Danny Karam

Digital & Technology Partner, PwC Middle East

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