COVID-19 flipped most people’s life upside down overnight, with travel limitations, business closures, homeschooling, and more — and one sector that was instantly impacted was retail.
Arab Consumer behavior and trends are altering purchasing habits. They’re less hopeful about their financial prospects, therefore they’re cutting back on their expenditures.
They’re also becoming less loyal to brands and more demanding, seeking greater convenience, healthier options, and items supplied locally, Many client journeys were now taking place entirely online, from the beginning of a shopper’s research until the time of purchase.
Ecommerce is becoming more popular in many retail categories than in others
There has been a big movement towards online purchasing in 2021, with a huge number of retailers in the MENA region being forced to temporarily close their physical outlets and operate with significant constraints.
The most significant shift in purchasing habits occurred in the fashion, home and garden, and consumer electronics sectors, as customers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt limited their moves to only needed journeys.
Beauty goods, food, and groceries, on the other hand, saw a smaller shift in purchasing behavior, owing to the availability of these items in grocery and drug stores, which stayed open.
Arabs buy into brands
Over the last two decades, many Arab countries have been assaulted with low-quality products from China and other countries, and brands are a clear and simple approach to assure consumers that a product is of excellent quality.
Furthermore, as we will discuss further below, brands in the Middle East have a certain status. Though this may be true in other countries, Arabs attribute status to brands in a variety of areas, including automobiles, clothing, and smartphones.
Purchase based on emotions first, practicality last
Consumers in various Middle Eastern countries make purchases based on criteria that may or may not appear to be realistic.
Many people in the Middle East, for example, prefer to own just one expensive piece of clothes rather than a variety of inexpensive outfits. This is most likely related to the status once more.
Purchases of mobile phones that are beyond their means every year or so are another example. To show off, the wealthy may gold plate a car.
Again, this is a generalization that does not apply to everyone in society, but it should be taken into account.
Price sensitivity is progressively increasing.
Middle Eastern consumers are spending even more cautiously than in past years. They’re also more worried: in the UAE, 80 per cent (up from 75 per cent three years ago) and 72 per cent (up from 62 per cent three years ago) of poll respondents are concerned about losing their jobs.
More than 40% of respondents in both nations indicated they are cutting back on spending and paying greater attention to prices.
Another increasing trend, particularly among younger generations, is to support local companies by purchasing locally sourced products.
According to a recent McKinsey survey, millennials are nearly four times more likely to dislike “giant food firms.” As a result, a modern retailer must serve as both a goods provider and a business platform for small businesses to obtain visibility and flourish.
The tendency is visible in the quick expansion of various indigenous companies in clothes, cosmetics, and cuisine in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Convenience influence Arab consumer behavior
Despite considerable changes in Arab consumer behavior, such as spending more time at home and taking up new activities, the incentives for where individuals chose to make purchases remained largely the same in the first half of 2020.
Across most retail categories, convenience remained the most important consideration. Home delivery and availability, naturally, were also important.
Convenience is crucial. To ensure clients have all the information they need to make an easy purchase, including shipping alternatives and availability in marketing messaging, as well as an online chat option.
eCommerce consumer expectations are higher than ever
As the number of people shopping online has grown, so has the number of issues that shoppers have to deal with. In 2020, over 65 per cent of buyers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt encountered a problem while shopping online. Inconvenient user experiences were the source of the bulk of pain points.
There isn’t enough product information, customer service is slow, there aren’t enough product reviews, registration or login is required, and preferred payment options aren’t available.
Ensure that users’ wish lists and baskets are synced to their accounts, so that information is accessible from any device.
Brands are expected to get involved in social issues
Shoppers care about a brand’s stance on sustainability or social issues, with 87 per cent in the UAE, 88 per cent in Saudi Arabia, and 86 per cent in Egypt indicating they worried about at least one sustainability factor while making an online purchase in 2020.
The sustainability elements that influence a shopper’s purchase decision range from fair working conditions and diversity and inclusion to ecologically friendly production and avoiding dangerous substances.
Arabs prefer & expect payment instalment options
Zero-interest instalment payments have long been a popular choice among consumers. However, thanks to the UAE’s recent e-commerce boom, they may now take advantage of a new offering offered by fintech startups: buy now, pay later.
The product, appropriately called, positions itself as an alternative to cash-on-delivery techniques, which saw a major reduction during the epidemic due to concerns about spreading the virus through repeated payments.
Consumers in the UAE have already used traditional mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet to pay for in-store purchases.
In order to obtain access to one crucial ingredient in business: consumer behavior data, banks and fintech players have simplified the payment process and advertised their industry-grade security measures.
Brands and consumer-facing organizations must be mindful of these accelerated adjustments in consumer behavior brought on by the epidemic.
Consumers in the UAE have fully embraced online retail channels, leaving retailers no choice but to adapt and harness consumer insight gleaned from data analytics in order to put customers first and satisfy their expectations.
While companies must emphasize their customers’ requirements, they must do so as part of a comprehensive plan that takes into account the hybrid shopping model, in which customers combine in-store visits with internet Local search.
As previously said, organizations that have taken rapid steps toward agility and resilience will be far better positioned to target digitally-savvy consumers in an increasingly competitive market where customer loyalty reigns supreme.
Customers are more than ever calling the shots and redefining expectations as a result of the epidemic, which has rewritten the contract between retailers and consumers.