The future in the Middle East and role of Marketing Research Companies in UAE

Published By Un Boxed, 28 Nov 2017

Changing times is going to pose significant challenges Consumer Insights companies in the Middle East

Here is the reason why…

The GCC has been undergoing a fairly tumultuous phase in the past couple of years. While oil revenues have historically provided the impetus for economic growth, the drop in oil prices in the past couple of years have put significant pressure on the economy and made GCC countries look for diversification opportunities to reduce dependence on the oil and gas sector. Add to this the political instability in the region, and it is not hard to imagine a gloomy prospect for the next few years. Fortunately, global events slated in the GCC for the near future such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar lend a ray of hope for a better outlook in the coming years.

It is in such a state that marketing research companies in Saudi Arabia and UAE are trying to glean consumer insights by using various qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Some of the key findings from doing desk research and consumer research in the Middle East are as follows :

A major factor of economic growth and diversification that seems to still be underutilized in the region is the role of women in the economic domain. The region has come a long way in terms of women’s education. In KSA (Saudi Arabia), for instance, women were not even allowed formal education until 1956. The country has progressed by leaps and bounds in the past 60 years with women outnumbering men in higher education. The UAE (United Arab Emirates) too has an enviable record of 97% female literacy with a large segment of women actively pursuing higher education in an attempt to redefine their roles as active members of society.

In order to dig deep into both economic and cultural understanding, marketers employ Marketing Research Companies in UAE  and using various methodologies like CAPT, CATI and focus groups to meet consumers and generate consumer insights in Middle East.  One such company is Unboxed Consulting

Despite the commendable statistics shown before, the participation of national women in the workforce, particularly the private sector, is still well below par. Constant emphasis on institutionalized norms has meant that it is hard for women to break into the workplace.

Interestingly, even among women who have wanted to or managed to gain employment, there exist barriers which make employment in the private sector a not-so-attractive proposition. The concept of flexible working conditions, while flaunted by many companies, is not really implemented in a way that would truly help women, especially mothers(Finding from primary research done by Marketing Research Companies in KSA). In most cases, where flexibility is offered, it is usually lip service and is restricted to maternity leave. Beyond this, employees (both male and female) still remain concerned that presenteeism and long working hours are expected for them as a sign of their commitment to the employer.

Another barrier faced by women is their work-life balance. Working and living in traditionally patriarchal cultures means that women still don the role of primary homemaker and have to manage the household and children even if they hold full time jobs (finding from a Qualitative research company in Saudi Arabia).

The lifting of the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia is a welcome piece of news for gender equality. And the fact that the UAE is putting women in many important public facing roles is also admirable. The good news is that things are changing, but are they changing fast enough?

While legislative and systemic changes make take a while to come to fruition, the Middle East woman is redefining herself. Consumer research in UAE and KSA has shown that, in the absence of strong mentoring and external support, she is taking it on herself to make smart choices to help ease her life and workload. She is no longer fulfilled by just being a mother and homemaker. While these will always be critical aspects of her identity, her personal identity independent of the family structure is becoming important to her.

It is important for marketers and marketing research companies in UAE and KSA in the region to acknowledge this changing face of the Arab woman and address her as a multi-faceted entity. 

Unboxed Consulting, a boutique consumer research company in UAE, has conducted various qualitative and quantitative research studies in the Middle and North Africa among women to understand their changing self perceptions, the influence of world media (and particularly digital media) on their lives and perspectives, on their attitudes, beliefs and behavior on a variety of topics from parenting to home management to work life balance to health and wellness.