Engaging the next generation

Fusion5’s Anthony Mchayleh’s explains how to win over Saudi Arabia's youthful audiences

It was only a few years ago that the widespread impression of Saudi Arabia was one that revolved around tradition and stoicism, whereas recent visitors would be met with a kingdom buzzing with youthful energy and digital fluency.

For marketers, the challenge becomes not just reaching young audiences but, more importantly, resonating profoundly with them. With over half the Kingdom’s population under 25, this demographic isn’t just significant in volume; it’s transformative.

In a culture rich with tradition yet rapidly embracing modernity, finding the right mix of innovation and cultural reverence is key to captivating young Saudis.

“Influencer partnerships have become akin to gold”

The primary element behind capturing this audience lies in the significant growth of its digital footprint. This dynamic audience lives online, leading the world in mobile connectivity and dominating platforms from YouTube to Snapchat.

They are not passive consumers; they are creators, influencers, and critics, spending around seven hours daily online crafting and curating their digital worlds. For marketers, this digital landscape offers fertile ground for campaigns that are mobile-first, visually rich, and supremely interactive.

Influencer partnerships have become akin to gold. Local celebrities like Taim AlFalasi and Fahad Sal have proven that their presence is not purely defined by their followers, but rather though the communities they have built that trust their every endorsement.

Collaborating with such influencers allows brands to tap into pre-established trust and credibility, delivering messages that feel personal and authentic.

Another element is the surge of interest in various pastimes and passions.

The first frontier here, teeming with infinite potential, is gaming. With the Saudi government investing heavily in the gaming industry, young Saudis are increasingly immersed in both playing and streaming games.

The competitive and interactive nature of Saudi youth makes gamification an effective tool. Integrating game mechanics into marketing strategies, like challenges, badges, and leaderboards can transform passive interactions into active and engaging experiences.

This not only captivates but also builds loyalty and a fun association with the brand.

The growing enthusiasm for football, especially with recent high-profile acquisitions in the Saudi football league, offers yet another vibrant channel for engagement. This boosts visibility and aligns brands with the national spirit and excitement.

The key to all these strategies is cultural alignment.

Saudi youth may be global in their outlook, but they are deeply proud of their heritage. Campaigns that weave together the national narrative with modern aspirations, like those launched during Saudi National Day, can create powerful emotional resonance.

Given the mobile-centric lifestyle of Saudi youth, ensuring that all digital content is optimised for mobile is non-negotiable. This includes responsive designs, fast-loading interfaces, and seamless user journeys, essential for keeping the tech-savvy and fast-paced young audience engaged.

“Embracing these multi-faceted strategies is the way forward”

Billboards and digital screens in high-traffic areas offer broad visibility and complement digital campaigns, and in some cases, they have adopted evolved formats to build legs for a larger campaign scope (such as Riyadh Boulevard’s takeover option, which can be amplified on owned platforms).

This integration ensures a cohesive brand presence that captures attention across multiple touchpoints, engaging young Saudis effectively as they navigate both digital and physical landscapes.

Embracing these multi-faceted strategies is the way forward. Marketers who skilfully blend these elements, ensuring their campaigns are both innovative and culturally insightful, will not only capture the attention of Saudi Arabia’s youth but also earn their respect and loyalty.

By Anthony Mchayleh, Head of Investment at Fusion5 Advertising