Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey: 89 per cent of Arab youth say they shop online

The number of Arab youth saying they shop online has nearly doubled in five years, and almost all young GCC citizens say they shop via a social media app or website at least a few times a month, according to the 14th Annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled today by Asda’a BCW, MENA-based communications consultancy.

Food, clothing, groceries, electronics and beauty/grooming products are their top-five digital purchases, according to the study. A full 89 per cent of those polled admit to shopping online, compared with 50 per cent in 2018. This rises to 98 per cent in the GCC.

Now in its 14th year, the Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind of MENA’s largest demographic, its 200 million plus youth. Asda’a BCW commissioned IDS Research & Consultancy to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,400 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 in their home nations from May 13 to June 16. Interviews with an equal sample of men and women took place in 50 cities across a total of 17 Arab states.

Social media habits are changing, with half of Arab youth now saying they use TikTok daily, more than double the number who said they used the app in 2020 (21 per cent). Today, TikTok is the fifth-most popular social media app after WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Besides for shopping, Arab youth increasingly consume social media for news. Two-thirds (65 per cent) say they get their news from social media, 4 per cent more than in 2021, followed by TV, online news sources, and printed newspapers in distant fourth place. However, television is the most trusted news source (84 per cent). Two-thirds of young Arab men and women (66 per cent) describe social media as trustworthy, compared with 71 per cent who trust printed newspapers and online news sources.

With internet penetration between 98 per cent to 100 per cent in GCC countries, and well over 65 per cent in the Levant and North Africa, Arab youth are, unsurprisingly, struggling to disconnect from social media, with three-quarters of those polled (76 per cent) either strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing that they find it difficult to disconnect. This rises to 83 per cent in the GCC.

Sunil John, president, MENA, BCW and founder of Asda’a BCW, said the 14th Annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey, whose findings are presented under six distinct themes – Identity, Livelihood, Politics, Global Citizenship, Lifestyle and Aspirations – offered further valuable insights into the mindset of young Arab men and women across MENA, and the issues decision makers must address if they are to make the most of their potential. 

When it came to lifestyles, John said the study showed that young Arabs largely have the same interests, habits and patterns as their peers in the West.

“Despite some conflict-affected areas such as Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Syria skewing the figures, young Arabs are now on the internet in record numbers, for social media, news, e-commerce and streaming services, as reflected by the survey results. With so many options, it is little surprise that 76 per cent find it hard to disconnect from social media.”

“Also significant this year is the growth of e-commerce,” added John. “The number of young Arabs who shop online has doubled in the past five years, shopping especially for food, clothing, groceries and electronics.”

Find out more about the findings here.