Young adults in the UAE are increasingly inclined to buy a product based on social media influencers’ recommendations. In fact, 46.59% of college respondents agreed that influencers prompted them to make a purchase. However, this figure is far lower compared to the United States, where 70% of young adults trust influencers more than celebrities.
The survey concluded that UAE young adults are influenced by social media influencers’ opinions only to a limited extent. In other words, they follow the influencers’ reviews, but do not rely on them completely. The Canadian University Dubai (CUD) online survey covered over 120 students of both genders (64.77% female and 35.23% male). The majority of the participants (89.95%) were in the 18-24 age-group.
The UAE figures were revealed in a survey conducted by students enrolled in the Applied Public Relations course at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) and discussed at a forum “CUD Meets Social Media Influencers” organized by the students. UAE’s four popular social media influencers addressed the students and provided insights into how influencers function and impact consumer behaviour.
The four media influencers who attended the forum were Saif Ali Abdulla, a motivational speaker and radio host and MC for Pearl 102 FM; Namrata & Nancy, Dubai based lifestyle bloggers; Leanne Forbes Everett, a Dubai based Canadian fashion model with a primary focus on beauty and fashion content; and Layan Salem, an Arab makeup artist based in Abu Dhabi, focused on lifestyle and beauty.
Dr. Ghada Abaido, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Communication, Arts and Sciences, commented: “The students of the Applied Public Relations course got an opportunity to meet these four popular social media influencers face to face. Influencers are today’s powerful opinion leaders. Such a standing was in the past only reserved for Hollywood celebrities, rock stars and sports personalities. However, social media has caused a dramatic paradigm shift, allowing anyone to create content and reach millions of people around the world through global platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.”
When participants were asked about the social media platform that they use the most, Instagram took the No. 1 spot with 86.36%, followed by YouTube (60.23%), Snapchat (51.14%), Facebook (18.18%), Twitter (13.64%) and blogs. Instagram also topped the list (77.01%) when students were asked which platform they used most to follow influencers, followed by YouTube (28.74%) and Snapchat (21.84%); while Facebook and Twitter featured lower down at the bottom.
The students’ project further revealed that influencer marketing is a trend that will continue to grow in the future, as most marketing departments are allotting higher budgets for influencer marketing.
The CUD students’ report quoted a recent U.S. study (Olapic 2019) which revealed that 64 % of young adults in the 16-22 age-group in the U.S. follow influencers on social media. Another survey (A. Hutchinson, 2019) revealed that 51% believe the content posted by other consumers as more genuine; 48% have purchased a product after watching a brand video and 29% have purchased an item after seeing it featured on an influencer’s post. Finally, 34% have discovered a new brand based on a post published by an influencer.
Dr. Ghada Abaido concluded: “The students’ project clearly demonstrates the rapidly growing importance of social media influencers for brands to connect with their audiences. It indicates that consumers feel more confident about an influencer’s recommendation, and they are more likely to make a purchase based on the influence of influencers.”