Oh Snap! What is Driving Snapchatters in the Middle East?

Snapchat in the MENA region enjoys higher consumption rates than the global average, with over 85 per cent of daily users interacting with Lenses every day. In a recent study released by Snap, the company identified and defined the audience in the region with a profile called the “Snapchat Generation”. This Snapchat Generation is particularly […]


  • Snapchat in the MENA region enjoys higher consumption rates than the global average, with over 85 per cent of daily users interacting with Lenses every day.

    In a recent study released by Snap, the company identified and defined the audience in the region with a profile called the “Snapchat Generation”. This Snapchat Generation is particularly unique in MENA. For example, the user they describe place tremendous value on their connections with family and friends. They look at Snapchat’s communication and camera app as a tool to nourish these relationships. According to the report, Snapchatters feel like they are a part of others’ lives via their stories on social.

    When it comes to retail, Snapchatters expect to have a two-way conversation with their favourite brands. According to Snap’s business statistics, brands who share their origin stories, secrets to their success and align themselves with this generation’s social causes are rewarded with loyalty. The results are almost instantaneous and not subtle in the least. Brands will be happy to know that Snapchatters in the Middle East have no qualms about showcasing the brand’s logo if they are happy.

    Brands help define their identity and so does technology. This is a competitive and image-conscious group. In the Middle East, when compared to non-Snapchatters, the user base is also seen to have more global views. They are more likely to be a part of emerging trends such as using augmented reality to try on products. But compared to Snap’s western users, they are less likely to report stress.

    Within the Middle East too, marketers must be aware of regional nuances. Saudi Arabia users, for example, have an affinity towards nostalgia while UAE is more focused on physical health.


    Say Hello To The Snapchat Generation The Real Story  MENA

    Why do brands need to take notice?

    According to Snap’s business reports, discretionary spending power for the Snapchat Generation reaches a whopping $425 billion in MENA. More specifically, 1.4 trillion Saudi Riyal in Saudi Arabia and 216 billion AED in UAE.

    The company created a self-serve advertising platform called Ads Manager that lets marketers create ads, launch campaigns, monitor performance, and optimise towards set goals on a dashboard. Further, it informs about their user base based on their interests, behaviours, location, etc.

    Some global stats;

    • On average, 306 million people use Snapchat every day
    • Snapchat reaches 75 per cent of millennials and Gen Z
    • On average, Snapchatters spend over 30 minutes on Snapchat every day

    How are brands getting on board?

    In February 2021, Volkswagen Middle East partnered with Snapchat and social agency Socialize to launch three SUV models, Tiguan, Teramont and Touareg in Saudi Arabia. This move made them the first automotive brand outside the US to test Dynamic ads.

    The solution was initially designed for eCommerce, but the camera company, as they like to call themselves, customised the ad set-up to suit the new requirement. For this campaign, it tracked signals for automobile-related news and events. It then fine-tuned the product catalogue to fit the Volkswagon’s needs. In two weeks, the campaign delivered 194 sign-ups for test drives which the car company claims drove further efficiencies. Relevance was attributed to driving the campaign’s success.

    In October last year, Snapchat invited marketers to try out their AR capabilities to explore how brands could leverage it. The business campaign showcased how brands can use sponsored Lens and included regional activations done by Adidas, Ounass, Nestle, stc and StarzPlay. For example,  during Eid al-Fitr Ounass shared an AR Try-On Lens with a selection of fine jewellery and a Gucci hat. Users could try it on and share their pictures with the merchandise.

    Snapchat is wooing brands, creators and consumers alike. Earlier in May, the company had released Spotlight across the MENA region in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestinian Territory, Libya, and Iraq. The new feature created a feed of the top-performing content and added it to an exclusive section giving creators a chance to reach a large audience (think 75 million users in the region) in a new way.

    Snap’s brief history in the region

    It was 2017 when Snapchat had opened its first Middle East office in Dubai. With a space Dubai Internet City and headed by General Manager Hussein Freijeh (of Yahoo-Maktoob fame), it was clear Snap wanted to target regional markets.

    Company growth in this region has far outpaced growth in many other countries.

    It is interesting to note that Saudis lead Snapchat app adoption globally. They are among the highest active daily users of Snapchat. According to the data, residents of Riyadh and Jeddah use the camera 40 times a day and spend approximately 35 minutes a day surfing, on average. No wonder Snap is focusing its attention on the Middle East. Did you know that the global average for Snapchat usage is app opens 25 times a day, and 30 minutes of surfing?

    It’s also a young, internet-savvy, and tech-friendly audience. Snapchat reaches 60 per cent of 13-24-year-olds in the UAE and 90 per cent of 13-34-year-olds in Saudi Arabia.

    So it makes sense when in 2018, Snapchat announced new Arabic-language Bitmoji stickers. Content creators are keen on the attention too. In 2020, Snapchat launched 40 new shows specifically for the month of Ramadan. An interesting use case of the AR feature came from the way United Nations Foundation encouraged donations to its COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The lenses allowed Snapchatters to scan real-life objects like an AED10/SAR10 note. Users were able to see just how their contribution would impact the community.

    In 2020, before the social commerce trends really took off, Snap announced the beta launch of a feature called Brand Profiles which served as a permanent home for brands on the app. Profiles had the ability to function as a digital store where users could browse and purchase items directly within the Snapchat app, powered by Shopify.

    In September last year, Snap Inc appointed Zadi Hobeika as its new Product Marketing Lead in MENA. This proves Snap’s continued investment in the region to help brands effectively connect with its users. His most recent stint included launching TikTok’s advertising business in MENA.

    Most recently, the company announced that it will launch a Creator Studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2022 to support its highly engaged local community in delivering new experiences on Snapchat. The move will work towards nurturing its partner network of creators, AR developers, verified users, and local media publishers.

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