EV, digital lifestyle, and AR or metaverse


What’s on the mind of Mena consumers? Acquiring an electric vehicle (EV); Lifestyle becoming more digital and investigating augmented reality (AR) or the metaverse, all of three are shaping future consumer trends in the region.

The next evolution of digital experiences is becoming a reality as tech giants, and brands gear up to build the metaverse and consumers are already engaging, says GfK, a leading provider of consumer and market intelligence, analytics, and consulting services, on the sidelines of releasing an exclusive Consumer Pulse Study for its customers across the consumer products industry at its Insight Summit themed around ‘Winning the new consumerism in the Middle East’ on Thursday.

The study indicates 63 per cent of respondents are interested to learn more about the metaverse in the UAE; 61 per cent are willing to experience the metaverse; and 57 per cent believe that metaverse will make their shopping experience more exciting.

“Although not all customers completely comprehend the notion of the metaverse, brands that intend to enter the metaverse universe should focus on raising consumer awareness and educating them. Certain privacy and security problems must still be solved before this trend may become mainstream,” said Dr Christoph Preuss, vice president – Global Marketing & Consumer Intelligence, GfK.

Preuss said: “In contrast to the worldwide consumer, MENA3 — UAE, Saudi, and Egypt — consumers are more optimistic about their own future as well as the future economic position in their own nations. Consumers in MENA3 are receptive to exciting new things entering their lives: they are considering acquiring an EV, and their lifestyle is becoming more digital, not only in the sense of online shopping, but they are also beginning to investigate AR or the Metaverse. This makes the MENA3 situation quite unique, and one of the advice for brands is to keep an eye out for developing trends and strive to integrate new ways of communicating and connecting with consumers. Building high trust and loyalty with consumers has become more important than ever.”

GfK Consumer Pulse MENA3 Study 2022 has pointed out that for many consumers and consequently many brands, the only thing that is certain right now is uncertainty. “Globally, we are experiencing another period of economic turmoil because of geopolitical conflicts and Covid-19, which has resulted in large increases in inflation, global supply chain disruptions, and presumably even a global recession. These macroeconomic developments have an impact on the top consumer worries, which are inflation and rising costs,” said Preuss.

The research points out that consumers are affected by global trends and express concerns about inflation, with Egypt consumers showing the highest concern. Consumers are becoming more price-sensitive and willing to trade down, resulting in more strategic purchasing decisions.

The report insights indicate wallet payments are used by more than half of customers for a variety of purposes, including bill payments by 39 per cent and ticket/booking purchases by 28 per cent. Consumers also actively use QR code payments.

BNPL (buy now, pay later) plans are also infiltrating customers’ daily lives. A portion of consumers —16 per cent — have already used it, and if the setup process and user interface are clear and straightforward, usage is likely to increase. It’s also worth noting that, while consumers from all Mena3 nations are interested in the BNPL plan with 42 per cent, there are some country-specific requirements for payment plans. While consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia prefer short-term agreements of two or three months, Egypt’s preferred alternative is 12 monthly installments. This implies that a more tailored strategy is the best way forward.

Most automobiles in the MENA3 region still have traditional combustible engines, and just about 13 per cent of consumers own an EV. One of the reasons for this is the limited quantity of offers on the market. However, there is room for expansion because three out of every four buyers — 74 per cent — are considering purchasing an EV in the future. There is also considerable expectation among 29 per cent that IT corporations would enter this market and begin selling EVs under their own names.

The online shift is here to stay, with online sales remaining much greater than in 2019. According to GfK Market Intelligence Retail Sales Tracking, the online retail share in the UAE and KSA for technical consumer products maintains the same in Q12022 (22 per cent) compared to pandemic Q12021 (22 per cent). Price and convenience continue to be the primary motivators for the e-commerce channel. However, revenues are not the true measure of the e-commerce channel because online and offline enable each other in the tech-transformed retail landscape and provide a distinct consumer experience. Omnichannel is clearly the way forward for brands to grow in the market and become service champions.

Consumers’ primary concern is excessive inflation, and company and brand leaders must be conscious of a cautious customer who is still anxious about the epidemic. As a result, consumers are becoming more sensible in their purchases, and firms should examine developing trends and focus on crucial areas such as sustainability, technology, and the new digital era (Metaverse and AR).

Because these advances are novel to consumers, the first step should be to raise consumer awareness and education. It is also critical to design user-friendly consumer journeys and eliminate any potential frictions. Consumers want everything to be simple; they want everything to be done quickly and with little effort – and they are willing to pay more for a nice experience.

Another critical factor is consumer trust, which should be developed through favourable encounters. Consumer preferences and purchasing experiences are growing increasingly complex, which is why it is critical to properly understand your consumer and develop communication on a more personalised level.

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