Facebook, a U.S.-Saudi Business Council Chairman’s Circle member, commissioned a study with internet market research firm YouGov to explore how COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior and preferences during last year’s Ramadan and Eid. 1,500 interviews were completed and over 17,000 respondents were polled across 11 countries, including Saudi Arabia. During Ramadan, a time when families and communities traditionally come together, e-commerce and the digital space have grown to fill the gap in personal interactions and in-person shopping behavior created by the pandemic’s social distancing necessities. Here are some key findings of the survey which may help any e-commerce company interested in learning about how Saudi lives have changed and how to adapt to the new business climate:
- “Giving back,” a central tenet of Ramadan and Eid, extends to how people feel about businesses. 70 percent of respondents agree that brands should find a way to give back during the holiday season, because they want brands to share their own values of giving back to the community, speaking authentically, and standing up for important causes. In support of this, 57 percent of Saudi respondents became more interested in a brand after learning about its positive business practices.
- Because of new social distancing norms, 42 percent of Saudi respondents say they have spent more time on their mobile phones during the holidays to shop, seek entertainment, stay connected with friends and family, and stay up-to-date with news and trends. This means that phones are taking on a larger role in discovery, research, and purchasing compared to in-store visits.
- 50 percent of Saudi respondents spent more time shopping online during Ramadan and Eid because of COVID-19 concerns. Saudi shoppers are three times more likely to feel safer shopping online than in-person.
- Research indicates that the periods right before the start of Ramadan and Eid are the busiest for shopping, as people are constantly on the lookout for the best deals for gifts for their friends and family. Last year, 28 percent of Saudi respondents started planning their shopping a month before the start of Ramadan but only 13 percent had completed their shopping by the time the holiday period started. 62 percent of Saudi respondents continue looking for more bargains during Ramadan and Eid.
- The impacts of COVID-19 have led many to become more price-sensitive when comparing goods, including essentials like food and beverages, as well as clothing and gifts. 59 percent of the respondents in Saudi Arabia said they use Facebook for inspiration and research when considering gift ideas.
If you are a U.S. company looking for new markets, partnerships, and business opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the U.S.-Saudi Business Council is ready to help you with visa facilitation, business intelligence, networking, virtual events, personalized business advisory services such as introductions to potential Saudi partners, and much more.