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 according to the EY Future Consumer Index.
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% of consumers in MENA believing that post-vaccine life will be better than before the pandemic, and 51% 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% - said they will prioritize the environment and climate change in how they live and the products they buy. Another 22% said that sustainability will be their most important purchase criteria three years from now.
Around 63% of MENA consumers are more likely to buy from companies that ensure what they do has a positive impact on society. In addition, 48% will buy more from organizations that benefit society, even if their products or services are more expensive.
Ahmed Reda, EY MENA Consumer Industry 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% prepared to share personal data for healthier product recommendations. A majority - 65% - of consumers also said they want to make healthier choices in their product purchases in the longer term, with 41% 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% of MENA consumers plan to be more aware and cautious of their spending in the longer-term, with 58% 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% to 27%. People are increasingly concerned about the health of their family, access to necessities, and personal finances.
Consequently, around 49% 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% have changed the way they stay entertained.
Ravi Kapoor, EY MENA Consumer Industry Consulting Leader, concluded:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a window for change; and organizations 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.”