Middle Eastern Consumers Embrace Technology, Study Finds
Jun 2, 2008
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Technology is a key component to a higher quality of life in the Middle East, resulting in high ownership and intent to buy rates, according to research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). CEA’s Consumer Technology Trends in the Middle EastStudy found 85% of online consumers believe technology helps them better communicate with friends and family, while 71 percent say it brings friends and family closer together. They also believe technology makes life more fun (79%) and more productive (75%).

“Middle Eastern consumers place a high value on technology and consumer electronics,” says Tim Herbert, CEA’s senior director of market research, who presented the research study at the International CES/hometech in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Whether for work or for play, consumer electronics are an integral part of everyday life in the Middle East.”

Worldwide retail sales of consumer electronics (CE) products are expected to reach US$668 billion in 2008, up 8.25 over 2007, according to the CEA/GfK Global CE Sales & Forecast. The Middle Eastern CE Market will account for roughly 4.5% of the worldwide total.

According to the study, nine out of 10 consumers in the region purchased a consumer electronics product in the past 12 months. Leading the way are cellphones with a 97 percent household ownership rate. Consumers are doing more than just talking on their phones with 77% using their cellphones’ camera in the past 30 days. Televisions (88%) and desktop computers (87%) also have high household penetration rates, ranking second and third, respectively. Products such as digital cameras, video game systems, and car stereos are also being found in more homes than ever before.

Where you live plays a factor in purchase intent as well. “Consumers in the United Arab Emirates plan to purchase GPS units and home theater speakers at greater rates than other countries in the region,” according to Herbert. “In contrast, Kuwaitis are more interested in buying video game systems.”

When it comes to buying decisions, the majority of Middle Eastern consumers say they want brands well known across the world as opposed to selecting brands simply because they are manufactured in their home country. “Consumers are saying that quality comes first, country of origin second,” says Herbert. “It also shows the importance of international free trade agreements in the development of the Middle East and other countries across the globe.”

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