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.
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).
Middle East consumers’ in-store experiences rely on a balance of engagement through store layout, the store’s digital connectivity, and personalisation.
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.
Consumers’ willingness to pay for quick delivery has declined due to an increase in retailer offering free next day delivery.
Amazon remains dominant in the region with 23% of Middle East consumers using Amazon exclusively (vs 12% globally).
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.
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.
Note: Chart combines ‘daily’ and ‘weekly’ shopping
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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%)