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The evolving Saudi society

Saudi Arabia: Sunday, September 05 - 2004 @ 12:16

The emergence of television advertisements in the late 80’s, the rapid growth of satellite TV since the mid 90’s and the emergence of Arab news channels , most notably, Al Jazeera, have brought the rest of the world into the homes of Saudi families.

This exposure has given this society the opportunity to examine their own lives and changes in aspirations and values are starting to happen at an unprecedented pace. This change is starting to manifest itself in many aspects – e.g. the role of women, extended families increasingly giving way to nuclear families, etc.

The Emergence of Four Consumer Segments

Back in 1987, as MERAC, TNS/NFO conducted the largest qualitative study of its time to understand GCC consumers. The results showed largely collective societies, conforming to traditional views in their daily lives, as well as in their brand purchase behaviour.

In 2001/ 2002, TNS/NFO conducted other follow-up surveys to understand the changing GCC consumer environment. A 2001 qualitative study revealed for the first time the emergence of four broad ‘psychographic’ consumer segments. Whilst there are common threads between these segments, they differ in their views on some important aspects in their lives e.g.

Muhafizeen (20%) : Conservatives (Relatively Older)
• Traditional conservatives

• Values and needs (both societal and individual) heavily influenced by close friends/ family

• strongly affiliation driven

• Concerned about western influence

• Often pessimistic

• Comfortable with the familiar (be it people or brands)

• Averse to change

• Relate strongly to the extended family

• Woman’s role is seen in the family

Key Emotional Triggers: Arabic traditions and familiarity

Brand Communications: need to stress on re-assurance of their place in the world and basic functional values.


Usariyeen (30%) : Family Oriented (Relatively Older)
• Deep involvement with immediate family – societal needs revolve around them

• Open minded and progressive and see themselves as good Muslims

• Open to Western influences

• Women more socially aware

• Strike the right balance between family and friends

• Often both (husband & wife) struggle to find quality time with family

Key Emotional Triggers: egalitarian relationship, self identity

Brand Communications: need to stress on a close egalitarian family and address struggle of a woman who wants to be heard


Mutazineen (25%) : Well Balanced (Relatively Younger)
• Societal needs similar to ‘Muhafizeens’

• More willing to reveal their inner individual needs
• Actions within the tenets of Islam

• Men have high involvement with careers

• Women too seek a career after education

• High need for self recognition and self worth

• Open to advantages of Western world while retaining roots

• Women seek a more caring and understanding husband

Key Emotional Triggers: individuality and popularity within peer group

Brand Communications: need to stress on self identity, self recognition & personal freedom within accepted norms of society.


Motamaredeen (25%) : Modern (Relatively Younger)
• Individualistic, often rebellious

• Self interest, prominence underlies most of their actions

• Dependence on family for emotional support minimal, friends pay a greater role

• Inclined towards materialistic values of western society and self gratification

• Often feel neglected by their family and society at large

Key Emotional Triggers: fashion, luxury, glamour and self-indulgence

Brand Communications: need to stress on status, style, pioneering. Also need to build a connect with their lifestyle and fill up emotional gaps in their lives

The fact that the four groups of consumers are very similar in their income and socio-economic profiles demonstrates that differing life attitudes go beyond the usual demographic classifications. This alignment with different attitudes and lifestyles is therefore another way of targeting & communicating with consumers.

We undertook further analysis to try & determine how the two younger segments (Mutazineen & Motamaredeen) in particular would develop in the future.

What the Future Holds
We plotted all four consumer segments on the key aspects of life which best differentiate between them to understand

a) where each segment was currently positioned

b) how the positions would alter in the future e.g. where would the two relatively younger segments move as they grow older?

A list of psychographic statements was administered on a 5-point Agree-Disagree scale. Using factor analysis, these statements were combined into lifestyle/attitude descriptors. Discriminant analysis was then used to determine how each segment was differentiated from the other segments on each lifestyle/attitude descriptor. Predictions for the future were then made by assessing the differences in discriminant scores between younger and older in each consumer segment.

The Muhafizeen are at one end of the spectrum with high religious observance, family orientation with a dislike for foreign influence. They tend to have collective attitudes & seek product led values in brands. At the other end of the spectrum are the Motamaredeen, who exhibit relatively lower religious observance, are more orientated towards friends, more open to working wives & show more individualistic attitudes. They are neutral to foreign influence, believe in egalitarian relationships & seek emotional values in brands.

The Mutazineen are quite similar to the Muhafizeen in their views except that they are more open to foreign influence and egalitarian relationships. They also exhibit more individualism.

The Usariyeen strike the right balance between friends and friends, collectivism and individualism, emotional values and product values in a brand. They also believe in egalitarian relationships.

From our analysis to see how the two younger segments would shape up in the near future, we see evidence that the Motamaredeen would not change their views as they grow older, except in more of a leaning towards family & relatively higher religious observance. But older Motamaredeen would be very different from the Usariyeen or Muhafizeen, the relatively older segments in Saudi society today.

The Mutazineen ,even as they grow older, would continue to dislike foreign influence but would be more open to egalitarian relationships & women working. So as the Mutazineen grow older, a new consumer segment would emerge, very similar to the Usariyeen except on religious leanings & attitudes to foreign influence.

Implications For Marketing
Different groups of people often seek different brand values.

Yet, despite identification with different values, brand usage patterns continue to be similar in a lot of FMCG categories. Does this mean that brand marketers should continue to communicate their brands as earlier? Mass marketers should now perhaps think differently on how best to communicate across segments – “one message fits all” may no longer be necessary.

Mass market brands cut across all consumer segments – they are a compromise and so risk alienating some consumers. Therefore the challenge in mass marketing is to identify a positioning platform that incorporates the needs as well as the anxieties & fears of all consumers.

Saudi society is in a transitional phase and this brings with it a certain psychological discomfort, personal concerns about instability & insecurity. The Muhafizeen worry about foreign influence & personalization of religious values. The Mutazineen worry about using their education to get a worthy job. The Usariyeen worry about money & the future of their immediate family, and the Motamaredeen worry about their sense of personal freedom & a lack of emotional support.

Brands can help them address these concerns.

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Sunday, September 5- 2004 @ 12:16 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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