According to the EY Future Consumer Index, a total of 70% of consumers in the MENA region believe brands have a responsibility to positively impact the world, with purpose mattering more than ever.
As MENA consumers look to the future beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the index suggests that a significant amount of them intend to change their lifestyles, with 65 per cent of consumers in MENA believing that post-vaccine life will be better than before the pandemic, and 51 per cent saying that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated changes they had always wanted to make.
Sustainability and social impact
The index indicates that there is a growing mindfulness from MENA consumers about the importance of sustainability and creating a positive impact on society. More than half – 57 per cent – said they will prioritise the environment and climate change in how they live and the products they buy. Another 22 per cent said that sustainability will be their most important purchase criteria three years from now.
Around 63 per cent of MENA consumers are more likely to buy from companies that ensure what they do has a positive impact on society. In addition, 48 per cent will buy more from organisations that benefit society, even if their products or services are more expensive.
Ahmed Reda, EY MENA Consumer and Telecom, Media, Technology Sector Leader, said, “As consumers adopt new preferences and attitudes for the future, the Future Consumer Index findings show that pre-existing concerns around their own health, environmental sustainability and social impact have a significantly larger influence than ever before in their purchase decisions. Consumers are willing to engage more with brands that direct their capabilities and resources to support an economic recovery in the communities they operate in. Affordability also remains a critical factor for most consumers, in addition to the overall brand experience. Brands that keep these factors in mind will be well placed for success among consumers in the coming years.”
Health and affordability
The findings also show that MENA consumers are willing to embrace data sharing if it leads to better outcomes for them, with 77 per cent prepared to share personal data for healthier product recommendations. A majority – 65 per cent – of consumers also said they want to make healthier choices in their product purchases in the longer term, with 41 per cent saying that health or “what’s good for me” will be the most important purchase criteria for them three years from now.
Affordability also remains an important consideration for most consumers, particularly those who are actively taking steps to ensure that they live within their means. The index found that 67 per cent of MENA consumers plan to be more aware and cautious of their spending in the longer-term, with 58 per cent noting that price will be their most important purchase criteria three years from now.
Safety concerns on the rise
Even as the roll-out of the vaccine picks up around the world, stability increases, and the impact of COVID-19 declines, the findings suggest that people are more worried than ever. The percentage of people who think they will live in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic for at least another year has risen from 19 per cent to 27 per cent. People are increasingly concerned about the health of their family, access to necessities, and personal finances.
Consequently, around 49 per cent of MENA consumers reported that will be less inclined to get involved in experiences outside the home as a result of health and safety concerns, while 86 per cent have changed the way they stay entertained.
Ravi Kapoor, Partner and Leader – Consulting – Consumer Products & Retail – Middle East & North Africa at EY Global Consulting Services said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a window for change; and organisations have reacted by significantly transforming the way they work. The same is true of consumers’ everyday lifestyles, and as people around the world emerge from the pandemic, they plan to fundamentally change how they spend money and live their lives. Against this backdrop, companies cannot afford to stand still. Those that take bold decisions now – to address their customers’ evolving concerns as well as new market trends – will be more successful in shaping a profitable future.”