Residents in UAE are prioritising cutbacks on social activities and luxury items and instead focusing on spending more on their health, according to a new survey released on Monday.

According to the Global Consumer Barometer Wave 24 report released by research consultancy Toluna, 35 per cent opt to reduce spending on luxury products or services, 27 per cent on going out to eat or drink, and 34 per cent on ordering takeout to manage their finances better.

But there is a notable shift towards health and well-being priorities, as 65 per cent of UAE residents are pledging to focus more on their health and 74 per cent are advocating for better availability of healthy food and drink options.

“Consumers are making deliberate choices to manage their finances, evident in their reduced spending on social activities and luxury items,” said Georges Akkaoui, regional director for Middle East and Africa at Toluna.

“What's particularly striking is the growing emphasis on health and well-being, with a substantial proportion of UAE consumers expressing a desire for healthier options and greater transparency from brands. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to not only meet but exceed consumer expectations by aligning their offerings with these evolving needs to drive meaningful engagement that resonates long-term,” he said.

Prioritising savings

The survey revealed that more than half – 60 per cent – of UAE consumers expect improvement in their finances over the next three months, much higher than the global average of 37 per cent.

Nearly 1 in 7 – 69 per cent – of UAE consumers are deferring significant expenditures, mirroring the global sentiment at 66 per cent.

To manage their finances, the survey revealed UAE consumers exhibit prudence, with 53 per cent prioritising savings and 42 per cent resorting to cash payments to rein in spending.

Groceries top spending list

On the spending front, UAE consumers allocate increased budgets for groceries (56 per cent), and personal care products (49 per cent), while luxury goods face a downturn, reflecting shifting consumer priorities amidst economic uncertainties

The UAE consumers remain resolute, with 63 per cent expecting to fare better financially in the coming months. Yet, high petrol prices could impact spending plans for 69 per cent of UAE consumers, said the report.

A large number of UAE residents – 80 per cent – are looking for more cost-effective solutions for health, wellness, and fitness. “On the same note, 84 per cent of consumers in UAE agree that food and drink brands should offer more healthy options, 82 per cent advised that brands should provide better information on the health and well-being implications of their products.

Moreover, 84 per cent of UAE residents believe that brands should be accountable to consumers versus 80 per cent globally and 76 per cent want to choose brands based on environmental and social factors, but don’t have enough information versus 64 per cent.

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