Anyone that’s ever done an online search for certain data or statistics is likely to have stumbled on Statista, the universally popular business data platform. Covering data from all sectors, the 13-year old company has established itself over the years as the go-to destination for researchers, consultants, and even journalists like ourselves when it comes to finding comprehensive data presented in a visually appealing manner. Over the years, it has been used by companies like Google, Samsung and PayPal.
Now, this service is expanding to the Middle East, hoping to fill the “market gap” of data in the region. This is what Hasan Awada, Regional Manager – Middle East at Statista, told AMEinfo in an exclusive interview. This is made possible too because the company also conducts its own research, having developed over the years from a mere aggregator of statistics into a supplier of primary research, its business model over the years not too different from that of Netflix, as Awada pointed out.
Statista’s raison d’être
“Statista started in 2007 as a startup in Hamburg, Germany… [winning] numerous awards,” Awada said. “It started off as an aggregator of statistics to support companies that need help with their desk research, a kind of an all-in-one solution to save time – specifically for SMEs, because they were fed up of subscribing to 20 different [research] platforms. [We thought,] ‘why don’t we just have a kind of a snapshot of the world’s best sources?'”
“So, Statista was born to fill that gap of desk research and save people time.”
“Since then, it has grown and eventually became the world’s largest aggregator of statistics: 80,000 topics from 22,500 sources and 1.5 million data points.”
“We basically followed the Netflix model, which started as an aggregator then started putting out their own content. On top of the aggregated content from our partners, we started offering exclusive insights (primary research). This primary research is mostly in the form of what we call “the outlooks” – and our own in-house reports. Outlooks are mostly specific segments. It could be the consumer market – offline and online – generally digital markets, mobility markets, technology markets, economic and industrial markets, which we’ve just launched now.”
“Statista’s service gives the customer the opportunity to choose their segment, their sub-segment and choose their country, after which they get a list of key performance indicators underneath that subject. This could be something like: Consumer > Retail > Men’s suits > Saudi Arabia, and then you’ll get a list of key performance indicators on your dashboard. The dashboard would display data on consumer behavior, consumption, revenue figures, etc. and this becomes your landing page. On this landing page you have reports, topics, dossiers, studies, surveys and more linked to this topic. It enables you to really understand the go-to market strategy of what’s happening.”
Who is it for?
The aforementioned example – men’s suits – is useful for companies manufacturing clothes, for example, which sell directly to the consumer (B2C). Additionally, this data could be useful for other sector stakeholders like consultants/consultancies, and media buyers and companies who want to keep track of the market and advise their clients.
“While the men’s suits example looks into physical retail, our data also addresses the digital side of things, like video streaming/SVOD or app usage and online food delivery.”
The idea is to make sure that this is a platform which is:
As simple to use as possible
Easy to use, with exportable and customizable data, while maintaining transparency of how we got the data, how it was collected, etc. Statista is almost like an open-source platform.
A platform for all, not just a luxury high-end solution. We want to be mid-market, affordable for SMEs and startups, as well as the big corporations. We want SMEs to use us for their feasibility studies when they’re thinking of an idea and offer the breadth of data and report tools that enterprises need.
A tool for startups and SMEs: The first market gap
“At the moment, there is a market gap, and in the Middle East there isn’t really a provider which champions the startups, which often find data expensive when they go to the traditional big players.”
“Sometimes entrepreneurs have this great idea, but no resources to support it. What we’re trying to offer is a flexible solution where tech startups can afford us, as long as they’ve got a bit of capital, and they can use our services to support their business plan and gain investments to actualize their original idea. Then, as they grow as a company, they can upgrade to our higher packages which will be more suitable for them as a larger company.”
The second gap to address
“There are a few big international players that have reached the Middle East market, but they are very high-end. The Middle East is increasingly opening up to international players, making data aggregation easier. ”
“So, there is a natural gap in the Middle East market. It’s a growth market – compared to Europe and the US, which are saturated markets.”
“So, the challenge for us is to provide companies with the data and the way we’ve done that is by forming partnerships with all kinds of statistics providers across the Middle East. Additionally, we are providing information about every global region to Middle East companies for those that want to grow globally.”
What Statista wants
“We want to be the one-stop solution for all their data and research needs, and make it as easy and customizable to use as possible without having to contend with different branded databases and user interfaces. We want to make data exciting and bring it to life with our infographics and essentially that’s what we’re trying to achieve in the Middle East.”
Statista has taken its first steps in the region
Statista’s first step in the Arab market was when they conducted a country report on Saudi Arabia in 2019. They’ve since replicated this effort in the UAE and Egypt, to great reception.
“Recently, we’ve done a survey in Saudi Arabia with a sample of nearly 2000 people. We asked them questions about all sorts of consumer habits from their favorite car make, to how much they go online, to their digital consumption, etc. This become extremely popular amongst our GCC clients. It’s probably what gave Statista our name in the Middle East.”
“Now, we’ve expanded to the UAE and Egypt and duplicated the survey in these two countries. However, with these surveys, we added a COVID-19 twist.”
The data Statista gathered about consumer behavior, for example, can be filtered to reflect pre-COVID-19 trends and present pandemic trends. For example, for educational institutions, they can find data from before schools closed and data after schools closed, etc.
“So, what you’re able to then do is establish how consumer behavior has changed since the pandemic.”
“Going forward, I think we’ll be introducing data on more countries in the Middle East, but we’ll also be looking at the ‘new normal’ within the Middle East and we are going to try and incorporate that into our surveys and studies.”
Opportunities in the Middle East
Statista research on the Middle East has revealed some trends, such as a strong increase in e-commerce instigated by COVID-19, as well as an increasing number of SMEs and fintech startups in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This includes digital banks too.
“In the next 4-5 years, we think that these small companies are going to become bigger, and they will [put a greater focus] on the gig economy, on food delivery, and fintech in the form of digital banks, [among other sectors as well.]
Statista predicts that these companies are going to become the next big players in their sectors, challenging traditional players in everything from oil and gas to industrial operations.
Data is companies’ lifeline during the pandemic
“What we’ve noticed from our business is that there’s a need in times like this for more data.”
“We’ve noticed quite an increase in interest in having the intelligence, because what companies are doing is – especially in areas of financial services and consultancies – they need to keep the relationships with their clients. They need to keep their clients happy. So, consultants and financial solution companies and media companies are coming to us to use our data and information now so that they can keep their relationships with their clients [alive and active] during these times. They’re leveraging their client relationships so when the COVID crisis ends and things get better, they can capitalize on their clients commercially.”
“The bottom line is, at Statista, we believe the need for data now is more important than ever.”
“You can either sink or swim, and right now is the perfect time for companies to look at their strategy, invest in data and then, when the times improve later on during the year, they’ll be in a better position to capitalize on the market.”
During times of uncertainty, companies are realizing what used to work before is not working anymore, and they’re failing to understand how their customers are changing, so naturally, their fall back is always data. Many of these companies don’t know what customers are buying anymore – they’ve lost grasp of what their customers want. Companies are laying off employees, they’re losing money, consolidating, closing down – it’s complete pandemonium for many of them. As such, data is very important right now to help them get a grasp on the situation and to plan for upcoming consumer trends.