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| 13 June, 2018

No connection: Online apps and social platforms struggle to establish bonds with UAE users - study

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Image used for illustrative purposes
An illustration picture shows a man starting his Twitter App on a mobile device in Hanau near Frankfurt, October 21, 2013.

Image used for illustrative purposes An illustration picture shows a man starting his Twitter App on a mobile device in Hanau near Frankfurt, October 21, 2013.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

A new study has shown that mobile apps and online social platforms are “struggling” to create strong bonds with consumers in the United Arab Emirates, despite their widespread use.

A survey of 1,000 UAE residents carried out by MBLM, a brand consultancy firm, said that last year apps and online social networks in general ranked lowly, coming 13th on a list of 15 industries with whom customers expressed a strong affinity. The industries with brands with whom customers experienced the strongest relationships were the automotive industry (ranked first), technology and telecommunications (2nd), consumer goods (3rd) and financial services (4th), according to a copy of the study that was sent to Zawya by email.

“What we see in this year’s results is that apps and social platforms are struggling to develop and mature bonds with their consumers. Part of that comes from the fact that these platforms are free, which makes them easily accessible and reliable yet at the same time, interchangeable,” William Shintani, managing partner at MBLM Dubai, told Zawya in an email interview.

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“Think about how easy it is for social platforms to be replaced or deleted. Brands within the industry need to focus on enhancing the user’s experience and ensuring that the purpose and value their product and service provides is clear and consistent,” he added.

Shintani said that applications and social platforms should focus on establishing and improving trust with their customers.

“Many users distrust online platforms, a concern that predates the growing issue of data breaches. Not only are users wary of how information is stored and protected, but how it is used and distributed. The pressure to increase revenue and profits is leading to a saturation of targeted ads that are decreasing the quality of user experiences. These features can hurt the brand and reduce their credibility among users,” he added.

Concerns about privacy of online data has led to a heated debate in the past few months, and Facebook officials have been questioned by American and British lawmakers over how users’ data is handled particularly in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

MBLM’s survey sample constituted of 60 percent males and 40 percent females, aged between18-64. The company also carries out similar surveys in the United States and Mexico.

“An emotional bond is determined by the degree of positive feelings a consumer has towards a brand and the extent to which they associate key attributes with (the) brand,” Shintani explained.

“It’s important to understand that every decision that a person makes is based on emotion, which are then post-rationalised. Brands that develop emotional bonds with consumers are the ones that touch people in deep, meaningful and authentic ways,” he added.

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(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Michael Fahy)
(yasmine.saleh@thomsonreuters.com)

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© ZAWYA 2018