• Commissioned by Google, Ipsos revealed key insights to MENA consumer shopping journeys
  • Videos prove to be a strong driver of product interest with 80% of shoppers reacting positively to visual content, especially sourced from YouTube 
  • The season is a crucial time to interact with new audiences as the study spotlighted that 60% of shoppers are in search of new products or brands to experience, especially within the self care space

Monday, Oct 17 – Google released a new study conducted by Ipsos that highlights key shopping habits of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Black Friday shopping season (October to December). The study findings along with internal insights by Google were shared with advertisers and industry experts at Google’s superstore pop-up event held in Dubai earlier this month. 


According to Google’s internal data, consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are amongst the most excitedly searching for Black Friday compared to Brazil, the UK and the US. The Ipsos study explores the key changes in the consumer journey when purchasing during the Black Friday season, below are the key findings: 

  1. Consumers are ready to be inspired and are shopping new brands more than ever before

Online searches are driving retail traffic globally. Every day, 15% of Google’s searches are new, creating constant opportunities for trends, products, and brands to change the flow of revenues to retailers. According to the study by Ipsos, around 33% of shoppers who plan to participate in the sales season don’t have anything specific in mind to purchase. 60% of surveyed shoppers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia look for new products and brands when browsing online during the sales season. Both good reviews and deals lead people to consider exploring new brand and retailer options for the first time.

  1. Consumers increasingly watch videos not only for inspiration but also to support purchase decisions, especially on platforms such as YouTube

According to Ipsos, 80% of participating shoppers usually watch a video related to the product they wanted. The study also shows that one-third of surveyed shoppers classify video content as their favorite source of ideas, and two-thirds of them consider video content a way to help them identify what to buy. 

Speaking of YouTube, shoppers are mostly interested in videos that cover product reviews and rankings, or related to unboxing, or comparing products against other brands. Last year, searches for ‘product reviews’ on YouTube increased by 2.6x year on year. 

  1. Shoppers are set on making the most out of the Black Friday season 

The shopping cycle in MENA begins at least two months before Singles Day as well as Black Friday and extends up to a month after encompassing the holidays. Individuals are focused on making the most of this sales season and finding the products they want to purchase. The study shows that 55% of respondents begin hunting for products early-on and do not wait for the actual sales dates. The search experience is also changing. In fact, shoppers in MENA are narrowing down their search interest by looking into the latest product offerings, or the limited edition purchases. 

  1. Customers expect the browsing-to-checkout experience to be seamless 

Regardless of where they are, consumers are expecting a seamless shopping experience. Around 41% of survey respondents prefer to shop both online and in-store during the shopping season. The survey also shows that 61% of shoppers expect to find the same deals online as they would find in-store. The expectation for a seamless shopping experience extends throughout the purchase journey with search interest for “same day delivery” and “click and collect” growing by 25% year on year. MENA shoppers now care about flexible payment options more than ever before.

  1. Deals are becoming more important to shoppers, and holiday shopping has already started

More detailed and timely information is also key, including ratings, current deals, discounts for loyalty program members, and availability – for shipping and pick-up. According to Google’s internal data, online shoppers in MENA search for seasonal deals on Google (e.g. Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Singles Day) more than branded or product queries like seen in the US over the last year.

One of the unique themes of the holiday season is self-care, especially during Single’s Day. According to Ipsos, 70% of surveyed shoppers buy products for themselves during Singles’ Day. People are also looking to not only gift themselves but also their loved ones. In fact, 45% of surveyed shoppers are searching for gift ideas during this sales season.  

Google recently launched new tools dedicated to retailers’ online growth. Performance Max allows retailers to grow online, offline or through omnichannel sales by unlocking all of Google’s ad inventory from a single campaign. The second tool is ‘Grow My Store’, available in Arabic and English, which guides local businesses to improve their digital storefront and optimize online customer experience. Retailers can also find further insights on Think with Google to help optimize their next shopping season.