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Middle East Digital Consumer Report: Econsultancy & Real Opinions


2nd October 2011, Dubai

Two-thirds of consumers in the Middle East use the internet to research products and services, according to new research published today by Econsultancy and Real Opinions.

The Middle East and North Africa Digital Consumer Report shows that 66% of consumers in MENA are using the internet to look for products or items to buy prior to purchase. Of these respondents, 48% use the internet occasionally and 18% use the web regularly to research products.

The report, which is based on a survey of more than 2,000 consumers across different regions in the Middle East, also shows that a third of consumers are currently purchasing products online, and this includes 27% who purchase occasionally and 6% who regularly buy online.

Online consumers are paying for a wide variety of products. Flights are widely bought on the internet in the Middle East, but other things paid for online include hotel reservations, utility bills and books.

Some 39% of respondents currently do not buy online but report they intend to, indicating that consumer interest in e-commerce is set to grow in the region. Some of the barriers to buying online include a lack of trust in payment systems, unsuitable payment options and the lack of online retailers.

Econsultancy’s Research Manager, Aliya Zaidi said: “The good news is that consumers want to purchase online and interest in e-commerce is rapidly growing, spelling out a clear opportunity for companies investing in digital channels. As more companies launch transactional online sites, consumers will become increasingly familiar with internet shopping.”

Zaidi continued: “Consumers also cited poor website design, unreliable delivery and inability to process customer orders, so a focus on best practice can help to remove some of the barriers to buying online.”

The report also examines in detail how consumers use a wide range of online channels, including mobile, social media, search and email. Consumers are using the internet on their mobiles with 77% of respondents carrying out social networking, and 70% using email on their smartphone. Other activities carried out using smartphones include instant messaging, watching video clips and playing games.

Real Opinions’ CEO, Dan Healy, said, “Investigating the results by country reveals how diversified Internet usage is across the Middle East. An interesting difference is where respondents access the internet, with 34% accessing via internet caf├ęs in Yemen while only 8% use them in Bahrain as 18% use free public Wi-Fi networks. There clearly is a challenge for some countries to catch-up with others in the region. ”

Key survey findings:

- The lack of trust in payment is cited as a barrier to buying online by 43% of respondents. The second most cited issue is unsuitable payment options, mentioned by over a third (36%) of respondents.
- Social networking is the most popular online activity across the Middle East with 88% of consumers reporting they use the internet for this daily.
- Facebook is overwhelmingly the most popular social media site in the Middle East, with some 98% of respondents stating they use the site.

About this report

The Middle East and North Africa Digital Consumer Report is based on a survey (commissioned by Econsultancy and conducted by Real Opinions) of more than 2,000 consumers across North Africa, the Levant and the GCC. Respondents came from the Real Opinions online panel across the Middle East from a pool of over 100,000 internet users.

The 55-page report looks at internet usage in the MENA region, including the types of products and services purchased by consumers online. The report also examines in detail how consumers use a wide range of online channels, including mobile, social media, search and email.

The survey results are broken down for North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf states. Certain questions are split out further for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The results show that cultural, demographic and population differences between countries can have far-reaching consequences for marketers in this region.

Report URL


Please contact Econsultancy for more details.

Media contacts:
Aliya Zaidi, Research Manager, Econsultancy
(e: aliya.zaidi AT

About Econsultancy

Econsultancy is a community where the world's digital marketing and e-commerce professionals meet to sharpen their strategy, source suppliers, get quick answers, compare notes, help each other out and discover how to do everything better online. It was launched in 1999 and since then has grown to a dominant position in the digital marketing industry with more than 105,000 members worldwide. Its website and blog attracts more than 300,000 unique users per month and its range of training courses and conferences are attended by more than 5,000 marketers every year.

Econsultancy also provides a range of resources specifically for the Middle East including regionalised reports, such as the Middle East Internet Statistics Compendium, local events, online resources and training programmes. Econsultancy’s 105, 000 members make better decisions, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings and accelerate their careers. Find out more at

For more information, visit or follow @econsultancy on Twitter.

About Real Opinions

Real Opinions is a full-service market research company, specialising in online media, with global and Middle East research expertise and best practice. Based in Dubai, Real Opinions has proven ability to help strategically guide and assess the effectiveness of campaigns.

Real Opinions abides by the codes of conduct from ESOMAR, an international organisation for market research.

For more information about Real Opinions, visit or follow @realopinions on Twitter.

To contact them and for any inquiries about this research project, email

Real Opinions contact:
Dan Healy
Real Opinions

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