The evolving retail consumer in KSA


January 12, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau

Basel Hijazi, Retail Marketing Lead for Google MENA

Google offers a look at some major trends dominating the retail landscape in Saudi Arabia.

In his opening comments at IMAGES RetailME’s Saudi Retail Forum 2023, Basel Hijazi, Retail Marketing Lead for Google MENA touched upon a crucial topic: How to make some predictions by looking at retail trends emerging from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)?

“For starters, we’ve seen retail queries in KSA grow at 15-19% year-over-year. That’s around 1.9 times higher versus the UAE. What that means is we’ve a big base of consumers searching on Google offering us key insights about how they are thinking and reacting to major initiatives in the Kingdom,” he shared.

On that note, over to three major retail trends in the Kingdom:

Trend #1 – The Ronaldo effect: Since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to the Kingdom, there’s been a 72% growth in sports related queries over the past 12 months. For example, after Ronaldo joined 41% of survey respondents mentioned that they have increased their viewership of football and 24% said that they have increased their spend on football apparel and gear.

Impact: Sports jerseys have seen 100% year-over-year growth, which stands at 66% for fan gear and apparel and 42% for sports equipment. That’s just one example of how a major shift in Saudi is impacting a segment within the regional retail market.

Trend #2 – A gaming paradise: In the summer of 2023 Saudi Arabia – estimated to have around 22 million gaming enthusiasts – hosted a massive gaming event called Gamers8 with $24 million prize money, which attracted the biggest gaming stars. For perspective, KSA gamers spend around two hours per day on gaming, which is 66% more than the global average and 40% more than the UAE. Revenue to the tune of millions is spent on gaming and Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest market in the region where consumers spend their money on gaming.

Impact: There has been around 20% growth in queries for gaming chairs, 22% for gaming computers and 13% for gaming consoles. That’s how a cultural trend has directly translated into a retail trend.

Trend #3 – Entertainment galore: An enormous amount of investment has been made to boost the entertainment landscape in the Kingdom. Surveys indicate that a big percentage of the KSA population have attended several entertainment events that took place in the country. Google ran a survey to find out what people search for in entertainment and got the words ‘clothing’ and ‘concert’, and that there has been a 46% rise in queries with both clothing and concert in it. People are keen to wear new outfits as they attend events around Riyadh Season, dress up for Formula One or for Saudi National Day.

Impact: Google found that 75% of those attending an event intended on purchasing an outfit for that event. Saudi National Day has been growing year-over-year leading to growth in retail queries. As cultural moments start to diversify and new cultural and celebratory moments emerge in Saudi Arabia, there is a direct retail effect. For instance, a Google survey found out that 66% respondents had shopped during Saudi National Day in 2022 and 46% believed that is the period with the largest discount throughout the year. This is an interesting finding because Ramadan and Black Friday also offer discounts. That’s how retail peak periods have evolved and more such periods have emerged in KSA versus the UAE. As Saudi Arabia becomes more open and introduces global retailers to the market, the consumer now has more choices and opportunities to avail discounts at different points in time.

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