The latest research by the Dubai based research company Real Opinions suggests that Middle East businesses are ignoring the voices of an estimated 70 million Internet users in the region and hampering the growth of the e-commerce industry.
Just 6% of Middle East Internet users claim to purchase online regularly and this increases to 33% for those who have ever purchased online. There is a potential to grow this to 72% purchasing online with those that want to purchase online for the first time. The research results show that a lack of trust exists for 43% and unsuitable payment options for 36% prevents them from purchasing online.
Of those websites who have set-up online to take payments, there is still room for improvement as 1 in 10 claim they haven’t made a purchase because of poor website design, 17% were not able to process orders after making a decision to purchase and 23% said deliveries are unreliable.
Dan Healy, the CEO of Real Opinions who conducted the research commented, “There is a tremendous opportunity in the Middle East for e-commerce to grow, particularly for UAE businesses to expand their marketplace from 3.5 million in the UAE to over 70 million in the region. There is a demand for more local business to give Internet users the convenience of transacting online and 27% claim they haven’t done so as they haven’t been able to find them online. Much of the transactions being done at the moment are just for airlines, hotels and paying utility bills.”
With Middle East Internet users spending an average of 4 hours online each day, there is also an opportunity for Middle East business to efficiently target and engage with their target audience. Real Opinion’s research with Middle East business decision makers estimates that digital marketing on average will capture 28% of marketing budgets across organisations in the coming 12 months. Despite this claimed investment in digital marketing, 37% still claim their organisation’s usage of digital marketing is poor. Backing this us is 30% claiming that their ability to assess digital marketing ROI is poor and a further 12% actually didn’t know their organisation’s assessment of ROI, questioning the ability of attracting an even greater share of the marketing budget with this lack of understanding on how to do this.
Another question for business to consider is their mix of investment in digital marketing appropriate for their objectives. The most popular digital marketing investment for Middle East businesses is ‘Email marketing’ with 14%. Balancing this up with the opinions of Middle East Internet users, just 20% claim they have ever bought something because of an email they’ve received and 42% reject emails by claiming they will never influence them to buy. The next most popular digital investments were in ‘Website display ads / ad networks’ (13%) and ‘Social media paid for ads’ (11%).
Healy commented, “With 86% of Middle East Internet users claiming they belong to a new generation of Arabic society, the challenge is for Middle East businesses to catch-up with the needs of these new digital natives.”
This research was carried out leading up to ‘The Internet Show’ in Abu Dhabi presented by Terrapinn which includes a free exhibition running on 27th and 28th of September which aims to help businesses to use the Internet better.
Matthew Wallhead, General Manager of Terrapinn added, “The power of digital and social media channels are becoming increasingly powerful ways for businesses of all sizes to communicate with the target audience. With this opportunity comes some major challenges and amongst them is identifying which channels are offering the greatest ROI. Visitors to The Internet Show are looking for solutions and partners who can help them measure the effectiveness of their digital campaign and I am sure they will get the answers they are looking for by engaging with all of the exhibitors at the show. Entrance to the exhibition and 60+ educational seminars is free.”
Notes and media contacts
About the Research The research was conducted online survey using the Real Opinions online panel throughout the Middle East from 10th to 15th June 2011 with over n=2,000 Internet users in Arabic and English. Research with over n=250 Middle East business decision makers was conducted from 11th to 20th September 2011. Internet User figures sourced from www.internetworldstats.com on 21st Sep’11.
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.
M (UAE): +971 (0)50 640 1890