At least two-thirds of consumers in the Middle East are adopting cost-saving behaviours as consumers become more cautious about spending.
According to PwC Middle East’s latest Global Consumer Insights Survey – Pulse 5, ‘Inflation and rising prices shape a new hybrid Middle East consumer’, delineating the recent market trends in the Middle East.
The survey showed, rising prices of household items were the primary concern for a significant number of respondents in the Middle East, with 40 per cent in Egypt, 35 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 28 per cent in the UAE.
Critical issues faced by consumers
The study by the auditing firm also highlights other critical issues faced by regional consumers, such as longer queues, extended delivery times, and reduced product quality and availability.
Shoppers expect to spend mainly on groceries (47 per cent), fashion (40 per cent), and consumer electronics (36 per cent) over the next six months.
Therefore, consumers exhibit greater prudence in spending on luxury items, home entertainment, and virtual activities and are increasingly seeking promotional offers.
More than 40 per cent of regional and global consumers are specifically purchasing items on offer and actively searching for retailers who provide better value.
Online shopping is growing in popularity, but physical shopping retains its significance, according to the report. A minority of consumers are starting to use virtual reality for shopping, exploring virtual stores, and testing products.
Key factors when purchasing
Based on the latest survey, consumers in the Middle East and elsewhere consider two primary factors when purchasing.
This includes high inflation and a high cost of living, as well as supply chain disruptions impacting the consumer industry.
This is leading Middle Eastern shoppers to explore new ways of buying goods while carefully monitoring their finances.
Furthermore, the survey indicates that technology plays a significant role in shaping consumer shopping habits. Although the metaverse and its associated applications are still nascent, they are increasingly popular among millennials.
Norma Taki, PwC’s Middle East Consumer Markets Leader, opines on the findings. “To maintain a seamless delivery of products to consumers, Middle East retailers need to turn to technology. Consumers and retailers are impacted by rising inflation and cost of living, which in turn influences how consumers shop and make lifestyle choices.”
She adds, “Furthermore, consumers are entering an increasingly ‘phygital’ world and are seeking the convenience of buying online with the confidence of buying in-store. Today, we see that consumers are going hybrid and easily switching channels between online and in-store shops or a mixture of both. The results from our survey suggest that retailers need to continue to invest in training frontline shopping assistants to meet the ever-changing consumer needs.”
As per the survey, retailers must address supply chain disruptions and in-store and online issues to provide a seamless shopping experience for tech-savvy hybrid consumers who demand convenience.
Retailers need to provide smart solutions that fuse the physical and digital worlds to offer consumers an improved shopping experience.
However, regional consumers have expressed apprehension regarding data privacy, with social media and website usage being the primary concern for 40 per cent of users. Almost half of the regional consumers have indicated that they share no more personal information than is essential, which is the primary step they take to address data privacy concerns.