Just three in ten Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa purchase goods and services online according to a new survey published by online research company Effective Measure and Spot On Public Relations. The survey of almost 7,000 Internet users across the MENA region shows that the GCC leads with some 43% of Internet users buying products or services online. However, overall the region lags behind other markets when it comes to online shopping, particularly when compared with developed markets such as the United Kingdom, where some 62% of all Internet users shop online.
"There is undoubtedly enormous potential for growth in the MENA online retail sector, as well as an immediate opportunity for targeted marketing to effectively reach the significant audience that's already actively buying online," said Brendon Ogilvy, Vice President, digital insight at Effective Measures. "Despite the fact that the overall level of online shopping activity is low, at 32% of Internet users, that still represents a market of more than 20 million online shoppers across the Arab world. The new survey report provides some useful insights for brands in the region investing in online marketing or considering consumer e-commerce initiatives."
Whilst the survey shows many similarities between the habits of female and male buyers online, female shoppers are more likely to buy clothes and accessories, while men are more likely to buy electronics. In general, men are also more likely to shop online, with those between 30-50 years of age being the most active shoppers. In the GCC, top buys online during June, July and August 2010 include airline tickets (31%), hotel reservation and tourism services (15%), books (15%), computer software (14%) and clothing, accessories and shows (12%). 8% of respondents bought music, while 10% bought videos/DVDs and games.
"It will come as no surprise to many that the GCC has the most advanced online commerce market, but the survey shows some much needed perspective for online marketers in the region," said Spot On PR managing director Carrington Malin. "While GCC leads the region's online buying with four in ten Internet users buying online at least once a month, only two in ten Internet users buy online in the Levant and North Africa. There are also some clear differences in products and services purchased from region to region."
The Effective Measure | Spot On PR survey was carried out in September 2010. The survey was conducted online via the Effective Measure survey technology (active across more than 100 websites in MENA). Total sample size was n=6998.