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How COVID-19 is changing consumers’ daily life in Saudi Arabia

CG Research Unit launched an online survey amongst a wide range of Arabs in KSA. The survey was conducted over 2 waves, which enabled them to track the changes in consumer behavior following the rapidly evolving environment in the wake of COVID-19.

Countries right across the GCC are starting to implement greater restrictions to flatten the curve with many regions, specifically Saudi Arabia, taking the drastic measures to close all malls, restaurants, schools, universities and halt all international flights. With nowhere to go and many now working from home, big shifts are starting to happen in terms of people’s behavior How are people responding to the outbreak? Will this impact people’s purchasing behavior? There are many questions to be asked

Research by CG Research Unit

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. From the devastating loss of lives, economic uncertainty and the strict lockdowns, people are now forced to re-think every aspect of their day-to-day lives. 

Countries right across the GCC are starting to implement greater restrictions to flatten the curve with many regions, specifically Saudi Arabia, taking the drastic measures to close all malls, restaurants, schools, universities and halt all international flights. 

With nowhere to go and many now working from home, big shifts are starting to happen in terms of people’s behavior. How are people responding to the outbreak? Will this impact people’s purchasing behavior? And how is this new ‘indoor living’ lifestyle affecting the consumption of media? 

In an attempt to get some answers, CG Research Unit launched an online survey amongst a wide range of Arabs in KSA. The survey was conducted over 2 waves, which enabled us to track the changes in consumer behavior following the rapidly evolving environment. 

How people are responding to the outbreak?

With the government shutting down public venues and forcing a large portion of the population to work remotely, 83% of Saudis confirmed being in quarantine to avoid spreading illness (an increase by 7% since our first survey period from mid March). 

The increased concern over COVID-19 urging a shift in everyday activities: 

  • A hygiene-related behavior pattern began where people significantly increased the frequency of hand washing and using antiseptic wipes and gels. 
  • The consumption of homemade food increased dramatically with food orders and restaurants visits dropping. 
  • Social distancing triggered a massive change in their usual daily outings which were previously spent at restaurants, shopping malls and public spaces.

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Have consumers changed their purchasing behavior?

With social distancing necessitating due to COVID-19, Arab consumers are seeking out alternative retail options. 

Due to the pandemic, older generations are also starting to shop online for safety reasons, especially when it comes to obtaining groceries to avoid supermarket queues and crowds. 

Shifting towards shopping online is clearly taking place in Saudi, but more fascinating is the change observed in what consumers are buying online nowadays compared to normal days. 

Comparing these figures to the results of a previous survey conducted by Choueiri Group Research in 2019 on e-commerce, we clearly see a new product mix for online shopping. Initially, categories such as grocery, pharmaceutical and cleaning products were not even showing amongst the top 10 purchased categories. Before COVID-19, only 6% (2019 CG E-Com Research) of the Saudi population claimed they purchased grocery items online, compared to 55% in April 2020. A massive increase that also shows a jump from 43% in previous wave (Mid-March). 

The main grocery items being purchased right now are products with short shelf life. This is mainly driven by the freshness aspect as well as the fact that they contain higher nutritional benefits to help boost immunity. 

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You can read the full report here