x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A survey of more than 2,500 people by the loyalty card management company Aimia in the UAE and Saudi Arabia revealed that 85 per cent of respondents own a smartphone.

Nearly 90 per cent of those who took part in the Aimia survey use email regularly and two in every three were active on Facebook at least once a day. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Nearly 90 per cent of those who took part in the Aimia survey use email regularly and two in every three were active on Facebook at least once a day. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Consumers in the Middle East are better connected than those in more mature markets such as the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.

A survey of more than 2,500 people by the loyalty card management company Aimia in the UAE and Saudi Arabia revealed that 85 per cent of respondents own a smartphone.

Almost the same number, 86 per cent, own a laptop and 48 per cent have a tablet device.

Nearly 90 per cent of those who took part in the survey use email regularly and two in every three were active on Facebook at least once a day.

“We compared our Middle East consumer to Generation Y consumers [those born between the late 1970s and 1990s] in other markets that we operate in and have researched,” said Paul Lacey, the managing director for coalition development at Aimia in the Middle East.

“And what we found is that the [Generation Y] consumer here is significantly more connected, more social and probably more willing to engage than in other markets as well,” he added.

And many use their connections to help to source a better deal.

Just under half, 46 per cent use their mobiles to perform price comparisons in-store, while 44 per cent search for reviews and the same number seek opinions from social networks before making their purchases.

But men are more likely to use their mobiles to carry out price comparisons.

Almost half of males, 49 per cent, said they carried out a search to see how other stores compared with 39 per cent of women.

Aimia, which operates the Air Miles programme in the Middle East, carried out the research in an effort to better understand consumers in the region.

“About five years ago, at the start of the global financial meltdown, we were in the process of developing a further presence in mainland Europe and in some more traditional markets,” said Rupert Duchesne, Aimia’s group chief executive.

“But we felt at the time that it was far smarter when traditional markets were in meltdown to put our development resources into developing markets around the world.

“In the last four or five-year period we have significantly increased our presence here in the Middle East. As a global company we are very focused on working out where the future is and the future is in markets like this.”

gduncan@thenational.ae