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Super malls
& market
stalls

How mobile is influencing shopping in
MENA

Photo: Samuel

90
%

of mobile internet users have used
their phone in store to check prices
and product reviews, ask friends for
advice etc.

in Saudi
Arabia &

60
%
in Egypt

UAE

81
%
In Saudi
Arabia &
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
UAE
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

A high number have
stopped a purchase as a
result!

44
%
in Egypt

O

Huge implications for retailers &
advertisers

Transparency is the new norm – price comparison and product
reviews are always in consumers pockets, just one Google
search away. Brands can’t hide product flaws and unfair
pricing.

The upside are new opportunities to advertise to people
while they are in the store.

O

This report on how shoppers in the Middle East use
mobiles in-store presents findings from research

with 1,500 mobile users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and
United Arab Emirates.

The survey was conducted by On Device Research, a
mobile research company, in September 2014 with

a representative sample of mobile internet users. In
Egypt 70% of the respondents were using feature

On Device Research uses the
mobile internet to gain access to
consumer opinions at any time,
place or country.
The company has conducted over 20
million surveys in 74 countries, and
has offi ces in London, Dubai and
Singapore.

Egypt
Population: 82
million GPD per
capita: $3,314

Saudi
Arabia
Population: 29
million GDP per
capita: $25,851

United
Arab
Population: 9.4
million GDP per
Emirates
capita: $41,691

Why look at mobile
and shopping in the
region?
Saudi Arabia and UAE can
easily be described as places
where shopping is a national
sport. It’s no wonder some of
the world’s largest shopping
malls are found there.
The Dubai Mall attracted over
65 million shoppers in 2012,
more than visited New York
that year. It’s the world’s
largest shopping mall (1.12
million sq meters or 12.1

Egyp
t

Popula' o n
Internet
penetra ' on
Mobile penetra' on
Smartphone
penetra ' on
Urban dwellers
Sources: GSMA Intelligence, World Bank,

Saudi
Arabia

United Arab
Emirates

82
million

29
million

9.4
million

25
%

60
%

71
%

120
%

176
%

167
%

32
%

76
%

75
%

44
%

84
%

78
%

Egypt’s no
lightweight
Traditionally Egypt has been
associated with market stalls
and small, local shops.
However, the most populous
country in the region has been
changing in recent years.
Brands like Marks & Spencer,
Ikea and Zara have entered the
market while shopping centers
such as the the Mall of Arabia
in Cairo (822 thousand sq
meters of shops, restaurants
and a cinema) are winning the
wallets of the young and

Photo:
epSos.de

Not a one-size-fits-all region
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE are the most vibrant and active
consumer markets in MENA but there are plenty of
differences between the three countries.
Egypt is clearly playing catch-up – it has lower smartphone
adoption rates, data speeds and income levels. However,
smartphone users in Egypt are very similar in behaviour to
those in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

In
Egypt

60%

In Saudi Arabia &
United Arab
Emirates

90%

…have used a phone for
shopping-related
activities while in the store.
Note that among the smartphone users in Egypt this
figure is 86%.
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Asking friends & family for advice by sending them a photo
of the or calling them for advice is the most popular
product

A

!

!

shoppingrelated activity while in
store.

=
35%

Note that in Egypt only 20% of feature phone owners do this. Among the smartphone users the figure
increases to 43% which is in line with the figures from Saudi Arabia (36%) and UAE (44%).
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Buyers seek assurance
Checking prices and reviews, and asking friends or family for advice
are the most common shopping-related activities where mobile helps
while in the store.
Q. Have you used your phone when shopping in store in the past 3 months?
35%

Egyp
t

30%

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%

Check
prices

Call a friend/family Send a
photo of
for
product to
advice
friend/
family

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Check
product
reviews

Fill time at
the
checkout

Show shop
assistant the
item you're
looking for

Check
opening
times

O

57
%

*

\
28%
*

*

Play
games
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Use their phone for
entertainment while
shopping

A

24%
Take
photos

t

G
22%
Visit
social
network
s

Entertainment beats shopping…
More people use mobile for games, social networks, talking to
friends, than for directly shopping-related activities.
Q. Have you used your phone in store for non-shopping related activities?
35%

Egyp
t

30%

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%

Played a
game

Taken
photos

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Used
social
network
s

Called
friends/
family

Read
news

Watched
video
clips

Sent
emails

Sent
instant
messages

Anyone playing games, using social
networks, reading news or watching video
clips while in the store can be targeted with
timely and relevant offers through mobile
ad networks.

Nader Kobeissi
MD MENA, On Device
Research

People engaged in non-shopping activities on their
phones while in is a great opportunity for
shopping centres
retailers.
Combining technologies like beacons, geo-fencing and real-time
bidding it is possible to serve timely and relevant offers to
platforms
Anyone shoppers.
activate playing games, using social networks, reading news or
watching video clips can be targeted.

Mobile prevents and shifts
A large majority of those who use mobile in the store for
purchases
shopping have stopped, postponed or shifted buying to an
alternative channel as a result.
Q. Have you ever stopped a purchase in store as a result of using your mobile phone?
YES

NO

10
%

26
%
90
%

74
%
Egyp
t
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Saudi
Arabia

12
%

88
%
UA
E

Better price online or in a different store is the biggest reason to
stop, or shift the purchase to a different retailer.
Q. Have you ever stopped a purchase in store as a result of using your mobile phone?

#
33%
Found a
better
price
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

b

18%
Found a
better
product

Q
16%

Friend/fami
ly didn’t
like the
item

Better price elsewhere changes
Lower price either online or in a different store is the biggest
minds
reason among those who stop or shift purchase to a different
retailer.
Q. Have you ever stopped a purchase in store as a result of using your mobile phone?
35% 40%

Egyp
t

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

30%
25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%

Found a better price Found a better product Someone I asked for
negative review
onlin
advice didn't like
e
the item

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Saw a

Bought a similar
item online

Couldn't find
info about
product online

s

Where can brands
reach shoppers on
mobile?

Facebook and Youtube on top
Retailers and brands should also look for advertising
opportunities with local players like Souq and Dubizzle in
UAE.
Q. Which of the following services do you use regularly on your phone (at least once a week)?
Egyp
t

60% 70%

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

50%
40%

G

30%
20%
10%
0%

Facebook
Youtube

Google
+

T
witte
r

Instagra
m

Sou
q

Wikipedi
a

Dubizzl
e

Capturing the attention of casual
gamers
With nearly 1/3rd playing a game while in store advertising in the right
games could be a winning formula. App Annie tracks the movers and
shakers (and money makers) in the app ecosystem.

Chat apps not open to advertising
Most chat apps don’t offer traditional advertising solutions but
clever brands can use them to engage fans and offer deals and
discounts.
Q. Which of the following chat apps do you use regularly on your phone (at least once a week)?
60%

Egyp
t

70%

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%

WhatsAp
p

Faceboo
k
Messenge
r

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Skyp
e

Vibe
r

BBM

WeCha
t

Tang
o

Ki
k

Lin
e

MENA
on their
phone?

40% went online in the last 12
Cheaper handsets, data plans and network coverage is
months
influencing mobile internet penetration - almost 60% started
using mobile internet during the last 2 years.
Q. When did you first use your phone for online services?
50%

Egyp
t

45%
40%

KSA
UAE

35%
30%
25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%
During the last 12
month
Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

1-2 years
ago

2-5 years
ago

Over 5 years
ago

Young and active
The region’s median age is around 25 years and mobile internet
population reflects that perfectly.
60%

Egyp
t

50%

KSA
UAE

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

16-2
4

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

25-3
4

35-4
4

44
+

T
ablet ownership on the rise
All respondents have an internet connected phone, but high
ownership of tablets (even in Egypt) was a real surprise!
Q. Which of the following devices do you have at home that are connected to the internet?
Egyp
t

50%

Saudi
Arabia

UA
E

Averag
e

45%
40%
35%
30%
25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%
Table
t

Laptop
computer

Source: On Device Research, September 2014
Countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Desktop
computer

Gaming
console

EBook
reader

Find out more + request data in
Excel
If you’d like to take a deeper look at the findings (including additional questions,
data points and gender splits), then get in touch!

Nader Kobeissi, Managing Director, MENA
nader@ondeviceresearch.com
@naderkob
+971 55 154 6263

Global Mobile Panels &
Research

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D

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