Bridging the Gulf; Trends Driving Consumer Behaviour in the Middle East

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A report has revealed that on average affluent nationals in the Middle East spend around $2,400 in beauty, fashion and gifting, with 42 percent refreshing their wardrobe up to twice a month with the latest and greatest luxury trends.

  • Average luxury consumer spends $28,800 a year on beauty, fashion and gifts.
  • 42 percent of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) luxury consumers buy luxury clothes on a one to two month basis, 41 percent luxury shoes and 37 percent on luxury bags every two to three months.
  • In the GCC 78 percent of consumers report that they like to keep up with the latest trends with 76 percent of them converting desire to purchase by claiming they are up to date with the latest trends.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the region will see a 4.4 percent growth in GDP in the next year.

The Chalhoub Group, the leading partner for luxury in the Middle East has released the report following recent figures that reveal that visitors from the Middle East rank top for tourism spend per person in the United Kingdom in 2013. The report aims to offer insights into luxury consumer behaviour to aid luxury brands from the UK. The research reveals key insights into the latest, trends and changes in lifestyle that is shaping the luxury landscape overseas.

Patrick Chalhoub, CEO, Chalhoub Group, says, “We are keen to share our insights into the close relationship between lifestyle, luxury and consumption in order to assist and support brands, helping them connect with their customers in the Middle East region”.

“The report clearly shows that in order to be able to keep up with the habits of luxury Gulf consumers and anticipate their aspirations, luxury brands will have to tap into the societal fabric which sets the path for a very specific consumption journey as well as innovating in product design”, Patrick adds.

Key findings from the report include:

There are three deep-rooted consumption trends, all present among affluent Gulf nationals but to varying degrees: the quest for indulgence, the need for recognition and the longing for bonds:

The quest for indulgence – The region’s quest for indulgence is sustained by high levels of spending. The monthly average spend among affluent nationals on beauty, fashion and gifts is US$2,400. It is not only the volume spent on luxury which is high but also the frequency. On average 42 percent of GCC luxury consumers splurge on luxury clothes on a one to two month basis, 41 percent on luxury shoes and 37 percent on luxury bags every two to three months. On average 78percent of GCC affluent consumers say they like to keep up with the latest trends, with 76 percent of them converting this desire into consumption by claiming to like to have the latest in everything they own. The activity of shopping as a means to instantaneous escapism should not be underestimated in the Gulf region. 63 percent of Riyadh nationals claim to shop for clothes ‘whenever they need to feel better’ and 74 percent of GCC nationals buy something they like, even if they have not planned for it, making impulsive shopping standard behavior.

The need for recognition – The second luxury consumption trend, the need for recognition, is embedded in a powerful need for self-affirmation. Choice of style is a tool not only for asserting individuality but also in establishing identity: 77 percent of GCC nationals like to create their own style, 74 percent claim it is important to stand out and be noticed. Self-affirmation is driven by a duality of desires. Alongside originality, acceptability is a parallel driver. 83 percent of GCC nationals feel it is important to be accepted. Iconic branding allows for visible self-affirmation and direct expression of one’s social standing. 82 percent of Gulf nationals want their gifts to impress, thereby enhancing the image of the giver.

Longing for bonds -Integral to the relationship between GCC consumers and luxury brands is trust. Another key to this intricate desire for bonds is found in a consumer’s immediate circle. The biggest influencers in a Gulf consumer’s life are to be found within a small intimate circle of personal relationships: 71 percent claim the biggest influencers in life are siblings and friends, closely followed by spouse and mother. This powerful bond transfers into the arena of luxury: 79 percent rank friends as their biggest influencers on luxury purchases. In a highly connected society, the desire to bond with one’s close network of personal relationships extends into the virtual sphere. Social networking naturally leads the way, with over 90 percent of affluent GCC national internet users having regular access to social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter and YouTube. Decision-making in the real world is strongly navigated by these virtual ties.

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