How Brands (and Influencers) can Action on Google’s latest 4 key insights on what the MENA modern affluent consumer searches for online

Google MENA has released in June 2019 its 4 Key insights on what the modern affluent consumer in MENA searches for online. Here is an easier-to-absorb version of it with the key takeaways and how Brands (and Influencers) from all over the world should look at it and leverage it.

1. They are hyper-connected
– Average affluent consumer in the Middle East is around 39 years old.
– Average of USD100,000 in annual personal income.
– 38% in the Gulf being expats + 82% having a university degree
– Data confirms that they are front runners in the adoption of personal tech, with 97% of affluent consumers owning a smartphone, 74% owning a tablet, and 41% owning a smartwatch.
– Multiple devices to stay connected but they prefer mobile first,.
– Time spent online on smartphones higher than on PCs.
– 99% use a smartphone to access the internet.
– 3 in 10 regularly using tsmartphones for online purchases.

These statistics might be for the affluent consumer in the Middle East but it represents very well the situation right now, for example in Dubai and the UAE, where retail is slowly dying. Consumers in the GCC and the Middle East prefer more and more to shop online and obviously will also consume its information and everything everyday life from their mobile if possible.

The Middle Eastern population likes the convenience and everything that can be done quickly, hence mobile being heavily used if services are available on their devices.

This is a big opportunity for any startups or brands that work solely on converting consumers online from their mobile phones but also an alarm for traditional business to move towards a digital transformation strategy. More than ever it is important to integrate digital technology into all areas of businesses to deliver value to customers.

2. They watch online video daily
– 64% of affluent consumers watch online video daily
– 29% watching weekly
– Average spends 1.5 hours watching YouTube every day
– 74% watching TV programs on a device other than a TV set
– Some people say they used their smartphones for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours/day, with most staying connected for both professional and personal reasons.

There is no surprise that the Middle East is a big video content consumer. There is also a rise in quality Arab and other nationality YouTubers and TikTokers, which makes Influencer Marketing interesting to leverage these video content creators. The real challenge now for marketers is to use them wisely, preferably for a long-term partnership, instead of a once-off opportunity. Why? YouTubers have strong communities that won’t literally take any sh*t from brands and even from their idols. If there will be a commercial tie with a brand and their favourite YouTuber, audience will expect that it won’t be slammed into their faces and authentic. It’s now the brand’s responsibility to be smart about it and work on a long term relationship with the right person (not necessarily with the one with the most numbers).

Pro-tip: Find the right match for your brand, someone that already uses your product or someone that their personality and daily life reflects well with your own brand truths. Do the Influencer a favour, approach them only if they are the right person to represent your brand., believe me, that will translate into content that feels authentic and not forced (it’s then a win-win for both sides right?).

Influencer Pro-tip: You are NOT just an influencer. You are a business. You must have a business plan, a brand truth and, most important of all, you must have integrity. I understand that your online side-hustle, or maybe main hustle, need to have income and each brand deal might be of high importance for you to pay your bills BUT you will have to learn to say no. You should think of saying NO as a bigger opportunity to say YES to the right brand you preach for (hopefully) a longer-term contract. Now, this is the real-world challenge that will decide if you are a successful and sustainable business or not. I’d like to believe most of my marketer peers are not uninformed. They will see through you and if you are the YES always type, or if you know your brand.

3. They watch travel, wellness and adventure content
– Travel is the number one passion for all affluent consumers, no matter where they’re from.
– Affluent consumers are keen to veer off the beaten track and discover new places and hidden gems.
– According to search volumes, trending countries in 2017 to 2018 included Russia (+148%), Azerbaijan (38%), Georgia (+23%), Mauritius (+20%), Norway (+19%), and Vietnam (+18%).
– While travel overall is popular, data reveals that interest in local experiences (micro-adventures) is accelerating too. For example, YouTube views for waterparks increased by 156% since last year and views for amusement parks went up by 142% since last year. The thirst for the adrenaline rush also saw YouTube views for skydiving soar by 127% since last year.
Alongside travel, YouTube Search analytics reveal that the platform saw more than 800 million wellness-related video views over the past year, with an increase of 58% in the same category. Projections suggest that this figure is set to grow.
– The most popular life-balance categories that affluent consumers seek out on YouTube include relaxation and self-care videos.

Travel is another interesting topic. As much as I love these numbers, for a true insight for travel brands, it would need a more precise dig into the separation of these statistics. I know it is supposed to be the “affluent consumer” group, but as a travel expert, I know it would be wrong to slam these numbers on the GCC or the Middle East. Why? Affluent locals search differently, their younger affluent ones search differently and want a different experience than their parents/families, the affluent Indian expats travel differently, the affluent British, the affluent Russians and so on so on, ya dig? Before I dive deep into these stats, probably on another blog post, I’d like to see Google or other companies being able to release deeper insights for the MENA market, digging more into the behaviours of different groups.

4. They are seeking an authentic experience
This audience seeks authenticity more than ever before, with personalization offering them a way to embrace and celebrate who they are.

YouTube search data shows us that affluent consumers enjoy watching:
– reviews
– unboxing videos
– product comparisons
– hauls
– first sneak peeks
– fake busters
– is-it-worth-it videos that compare high-priced and low-priced products
– favourites/top ten
– shop-with-me videos
– flaunt-it tours where people showcase their prized collections
– get-ready-with-me videos

We also found that
– 9 in 10 luxury shoppers research online before buying
– Affluent consumers look at an average of 4.10 online touchpoints
– 76% use search engines as part of their research process
– 71% use online video as part of their research process

There is no surprise in terms of looking for authenticity. This confirms my point about the importance of strategically choosing the right people for your Influencer Marketing campaign.

As a marketer, more than ever you have to put yourself as a consumer and think like one. Forget that you do marketing. How would you consume the content of an influencer on video supporting platforms? Do research, ask around (actual polls), make sure you have a solid case of behaviours and content consumption before launching your influencer campaign. I know many markets around the world, not just here in the GCC, we get lazy to test our influencer marketing campaigns before launching them. We tend to choose the number 8 in line because the first 7 influencers said no. If your right top 5 isn’t available, then scrap it, you need to re-do your campaign to fit that number 7. The further you go away from your top 5, the more not authentic your campaign will be.

Back to campaign testing, think about it, how hard would it be to take your 5 shortlisted influencers for a campaign and ask around for people to add their input on who they think would be the best for a campaign? If I can do it with my current campaigns and being successful at rolling them out, you should invest in doing this step as well. For your brand’s sake or for your client’s sake. Why? Because Influencer Marketing is challenging enough to calculate ROI. Most campaigns will NOT distribute tracked links or promo codes, so to have a successful awareness campaign using Influencer Marketing, you better do it right to have it all worth the moolah you are spending.

As an influencer, you need to evolve with the industry and analyze your audiences’ behaviour. What can YOU create more from your everyday life that is authentic and that you think your audience will want to consume. Not “what should I do more to get brand deals?”. As much as I preach Influencers to treat themselves like a business, if you don’t get your brand and audience right, you can’t even think about money just yet.

If they like your style and follow you for that, bring them shopping virtually with you; give them unboxing of products; private pre-viewings of fashion collections. If you do travel, show them how to get to hidden places. If you do food, show them where to find the best ramen in town. Don’t make the mistake of doing everything. Be YOU, choose the best of you and the best of what you know (yes you should know, not think) what your audience would be craving to see.

My Two Cents,
Thuymi

13 Comments

  • Reply
    Danae
    September 21, 2019 at 6:52 am

    This is incredible. Totally screenshotting some of these stats for myself. AND I need to start YouTube. x

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 21, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      These stats are indeed gold, thanks to Google MENA. Looking forward to seeing your YT efforts.

  • Reply
    Dave
    September 21, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Very very insightful article! I did read the research on Google MENA and they definitely have pulled out excellent numbers but your thoughts just gave them of a real value and I would personally like to see more of these. I work a lot with Influencers too and this does help their industry to go on the right path.
    Looking forward for the next articles.

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 21, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      Dear Dave, your comment is very encouraging. I am looking forward to writing more of these as well and would appreciate keeping to get your opinion on it. Don’t hesitate to share your own vies as well, I think this is the main purpose of the space. Would love to hear different opinions for all industries to benefit from.

  • Reply
    Arwa Y.
    September 22, 2019 at 7:02 am

    More of this! Our region is missing a lot of opinions and case studies. Stats are fun but love to see how people act on it or recommendations.
    I would agree with you about the marketers to have more accountability to their brand or client when suggesting influencers for campaign. It is our job to make the industry better for both sides.
    Best of luck.

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      So glad you like this, thank you so much for your feedback and would appreciate having your precious comments on future pieces too.

  • Reply
    Enrick
    September 22, 2019 at 7:09 am

    This is very interesting. Found your article from a LinkedIn connection that knows you. Please check you e-mails, would love to have you on an upcoming project!

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you so much for your support. I am glad I got you hooked. Getting back to you as we speak, nice to e-meet you!

  • Reply
    Lana El M.
    September 22, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I would agree with you on only Arab influencers doing a great job on video content only. There are many others from India, etc making great content for other segments. Other than that totally agree with you and this made me think a lot for my next campaigns. Looking forward to more of these and start conversations.
    Lana El M.

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      Did you mean you don’t agree with me on that? But I think I get your point and you are totally right. I did come across like there is only good new video content made by Arabs but I certainly wasn’t just talking about them! I will see how I can change it so future readers don’t think I am only talking about one segment of video creators being good! Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Marwa
    September 22, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Bravo Thuymi – you are a great role model for influencers and marketers. Would like to see more of you interviewing other successful influencers in the region.

    • Reply
      thuymi
      September 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      I look forward to also hear from other role models in the region! Thank you so much for your support.

  • Reply
    Dan
    October 1, 2019 at 8:56 am

    When is the next one for?

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