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Global Consumer Trends in Middle East and North Africa

5/31/2022
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The Great Life Refresh: A new lease on life as change is the only constant

The Middle East and North Africa region has proven to be a hub of opportunities led by the dynamic disruption caused by the challenges of COVID-19. Consumers are starting afresh with a new lease on life with adaptive values and goals for a better present and future, while aiming to remain holistically healthy, mentally and physically.

Businesses addressing these core wants and needs in the form of purpose are set for success, by innovating goods, services and experiences combined with marketing that acknowledges the dynamic nature of the changing environment and how consumers thrive within it.

A case study perspective: Businesses supporting consumer lifestyles through their brands in MENA

Middle East and North Africa is propelled towards growth through combined efforts of government- and private-led projects. This includes the success of Expo 2020, to be converted further into District 2020, a smart and sustainable human-centric city. Digitalisation and internet penetration efforts in countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, are expected to also contribute further to MENA’S Real GDP Growth, which increased to 5.4% in 2021 from -3% in 2020 alone through similar growth efforts. Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle survey fielded January-February 2021, revealed consumers’ personal traits and values to be highly positive, with 51% of global consumers stating, “my life will be better”. This figure is higher in the region with Saudi Arabia at 61%, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco at 60%, and Egypt at 55%. Furthermore, according to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: Lifestyle survey fielded October-November 2021, industry players anticipate an increase of overall spending of 40% in the next 12 months in the Middle East and North Africa region, making it crucial to be sensitive to consumers’ needs and wants to place their brands top of mind.

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Source: Euromonitor International Passport Database, Economies and Consumer

With a dynamic consumer versus business environment, the following mini case studies provide an insight into company response through innovative consumer-centric solutions:

  • Emirates Airlines has shown brand adaptation. From incorporating strict safety protocols such as COVID-19 testing and stringent disinfection using advanced HEPA filters in 2020 to launching the Premium Economy Experience with luxurious seats and spacious legroom. Rivalling many airlines’ business class offerings in 2021, it creates a new comfort travel zone, continuing to truly represent its “Fly Better” tagline with the evolving times.

  • Al Rawabi Dairy company with its tagline “The Nation’s Health” has kept the consumer as a priority. As the trend of holistic health and wellness is at the forefront now more than ever, the company continues to innovate towards themes of immunity, vitamins and minerals. During Ramadan, it marketed its products and their benefits through social media platforms. For example, Al Rawabi Strawberry and Oats Nutree Boost Drinking Laban providing sustained energy throughout the day for Suhoor or breakfast.
  • Saudi Arabia building of NEOM, a beyond smart city concept incorporating themes such as sustainability, cognitive digitalisation and boost in tourism to foster and nurture growth. Based in Tabuk province, it is widely advertised in the region and is expected to bring innovation across industries with topics such as health, wellbeing biotech, changing the future of food, creating smart, connected, sustainable and affordable energy and water systems. Further efforts to boost tourism include concepts such as year-round mountain destinations Trojena, technology and financial services, entertainment and culture to name a few.

Outlook for The Great Life Refresh in MENA

Adaptation, collaboration and connection will remain the core areas of focus for businesses to address their target audience. As consumers adjust to the dynamic environment, companies catering for The Great Life Refresh will be seen as partners helping consumers adapt to a new way of life, tailoring marketing to acknowledge and supporting consumers’ decisions to take action and offer products that support their personal growth to drive loyalty.

Backup Planners: Finding creative solutions or resorting to alternatives to address consumer demand

Consumers are fulling their desires for wanted and needed products and services, purchasing similar items or finding creative solutions to obtain alternatives. Localisation and private label are emerging as part of globalisation to better fit local demands, scale overall cost efficiencies, sustainability and align supply with demand. Globally, 28% of consumers tried to purchase locally-sourced products and services in 2021, and the region is aligned with this trend, with United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Morocco also at 28%, and Egypt at 19%. Businesses are pivoting and providing new solutions for customers to access products and services to ensure minimum supply chain shortages and fulfil demand through easy to purchase touch points such as e-commerce and omnichannel approaches, while maintaining a good balance of local and international manufacturing.

A regional case studies perspective: Rethinking the supply chain

Rethinking distribution and marketing towards Middle Eastern and North African sensibilities through customising global brands for local consumers has become increasingly important.

  • IKEA’s Everyday low prices with great value are popular in the region, providing consumers with choice and ideas for decorating and organising their homes without the price barrier. With a presence in GCC countries such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the North African countries of Morocco and Egypt, IKEA continues to bring a local touch to its globalised brand through dedicated product ranges and to its Swedish cuisine in its restaurants and food sections. In 2022, it launched the HEMBJUDEN Ramadan collection, which is influenced by Moroccan designs and has tableware, cushions, curtains, lanterns and decorative items in its range. Additionally, it serves regional cuisines beside its Swedish options, such as Lamb Ouzi.

  • Carrefour has launched the region’s first self-service store powered by AI, Carrefour City+, in Dubai. Focused on its omnichannel strategy, Carrefour has launched a mix of store formats and e-commerce operations in recent years. The retailer aims to offer a seamless and intuitive in-store shopping experience, integrating its mobile and loyalty platform, while also having a robotic system named Tally for better inventory supply keeping.
  • adidas is further empowering Arab women through its new “I’m Possible” campaign, a continuation of its “Impossible is Nothing” campaign, accelerating its mission of encouraging women to participate in sports and exercise in equal ways to men. It also launched a dedicated female store in Mall of the Emirates Dubai in 2021, symbolising empowerment and an inclusive shopping experience for all women irrespective of shape, size, preference of hijab and the like. Such initiations are beneficial for the region as consumers are able to search for what they want with encouragement for women in the workplace in Saudi Arabia, for instance.

Outlook for Backup Planners

Supply chains will return to normal as businesses and governments in the region make efforts towards stabilisation and resilience for the long term. Yet, consumers will be in control as shopping habits will dictate how Backup Planners shop and discover, from locally sourced to direct-to- consumer brands. Localisation and optimisation will become the norm as businesses rethink distribution, using data to improve supply chain visibility, hone operations and review investments.

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Source: Euromonitor International, Via, Putting MENA in comparison to the world, 13 May 2021

The two trends emphasise that Middle East and North Africa region provides many opportunities as dynamic changes continue to take place. Consumers want to invest in products and services that benefit their life goals and are open to connecting through the internet, especially with government encouragement. Business adaptability and the ability to meet this demand in this “new normal” and beyond will continue to prove crucial for company growth.

Learn more about the trends Backup Planners and The Great Life Refresh from Euromonitor International’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2022 white paper.

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