Digitalisation and sustainability have become higher Middle East consumer priorities post-pandemic, according to research.
A study, by PwC Middle East, looked at how consumer behaviour had changed as a result of Covid-19. It concluded that although 58% of Middle East consumers said they had become more optimistic about the economy, social and economic consequences of the pandemic had changed consumer behaviour for good.
The report, 2021 Global Consumer Insights Survey 2021: More digital and sustainable: post pandemic priorities for Middle East consumers, highlighted an accelerated shift to online and mobile shopping.
It found 67% of regional consumers believed they had become more digital during the pandemic, compared to 51% of global consumers. In Egypt it was 72% of consumers.
Mobile was now the main online channel for shopping, with 47% of regional respondents saying they use their smartphones most frequently for purchases, compared with 39% of global respondents.
Covid has reinforced the growing awareness of social and environmental sustainability the report concluded, with 65% of regional consumers saying they have become more eco-friendly during the pandemic.
Three-quarters (75%) of Middle East consumers bought from companies that were environmentally conscious, compared with 54% globally.
Also, 72% said they chose products with a traceable and transparent origin, compared to 55% globally. Older consumers were more likely to be focused on sustainability, the research found.
Norma Taki, consumer markets leader and transaction services partner, PwC Middle East, said digitalisation and sustainability were firmly at the top of consumers’ agendas.
“To prepare for the future, retailers across the region will need to be fast and agile to capture business from a rising generation of youthful, socially aware consumers who are digitally savvy,” she said.
“The speed of the shift in consumer sentiment reflected by our findings is a reminder that retailers cannot afford to adopt a wait-and-see strategy as the region’s shoppers emerge from the pandemic and the related economic uncertainty and emotional stress. A new, digitised market is taking shape, which already looks increasingly different from the region’s pre-pandemic consumer landscape.”
The survey found price-sensitivity was increasing in the Middle East, with 57% of consumers indicating they had been more price oriented during the pandemic, with 66% focused on saving.
Shoppers are more health conscious, with 41% willing to pay more for healthier groceries.
In-store shopping was still important as part of multi-channel retail strategies, the research found. Despite the pandemic, 56% of the Middle East consumers, compared with 45% globally, prefer visiting physical stores.
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