Residents prioritise affordability, health in new normal

Recent data showed that 29% of consumers in the region said that their biggest priority was to protect their health and the health of their families

  
People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 3, 2020.

People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 3, 2020.

REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

Residents across the UAE have stated their intentions to save more, by limiting their purchases to necessities, and to focus more on their health in the coming months.

According to the EY Future Consumer Index, 25 per cent of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia said that they will be putting affordability first as part of their decision making. Their focus is on living within their means and many stated that they don't care much about the brands they buy, only that the product delivers what they need. In addition, 74 per cent of consumers have identified price as increasing in importance, while 21 per cent think that it will take years for their financial stability to reach pre-Covid-19 levels.

EY's data also showed that 29 per cent of consumers said that their biggest priority was to protect their health, and the health of their families. This focus, they said, will guide the choices that they make. Shoppers also said that they prefer brands and products that they trust to be safe, and that they will also minimize unnecessary risk as much as they can by shopping online rather than in stores. Moreover, 64 per cent have increased their spending on household products and home hygiene, while 57 per cent said that they would pay more for products that promote health and wellness.

"Over time, we expect concerns around health and household to diminish as people, communities, and economies recover - but they won't go away entirely," said Ravi Kapoor, Mena consumer industry consulting leader at EY. "As consumers let new priorities and circumstances guide their shopping habits, organisations will be required to consider efficiency against the need to keep developing the capabilities that will lead to growth. Many organisations responded to the Covid-19 crisis with a degree of speed and innovation they probably wouldn't have thought possible a few months ago. But, they still need to work out how to serve a more health-conscious and value-conscious consumer."

EY's findings were similar to most recent PwC's research, which found that health, wellness, and mental health are very important to consumers across the Middle East.

Norma Taki, Middle East consumer markets leader at PwC, revealed that 88 per cent of UAE consumers are focused on their health and wellness. She also noted that retailers across the UAE would have to consider two key elements in their future plans - their store layout and the "massive" opportunity presented by online retail.

Although bricks and mortar stores were the main channel of shopping for many years, mobile shopping has since surpassed this, she added. "Our survey reveals that at least nine out of ten consumers will continue to use this channel to the same magnitude after lockdowns have been removed. Given the young population in the region and the high mobile penetration, online sales vs offline sales should be higher in this region. We have seen a big pick up in the last few years, but Covid-19 has accelerated this. My view is that any retailer that does not have a connected retail strategy is late and will struggle to catch up."

 

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