'Power Woman' steps through the door. She’s greeted by her 'New-Age Muslim' husband who is sitting on the couch sorting out his banking, work emails and fitness regime on his mobile - exhausted after a long day at work. She moves through her sumptuous, ‘authentically Arab’ home and smiles as she catches a whiff of her scented lilies. Meet the MENA region in 2013, according to a fascinating report from JWT.
As the report’s author, Mennah Ibrahim, Head of Brand Intelligence at JWT MENA, set to work identifying the movements and trends that are due to blossom in 2013, she found herself uncovering a fair few surprises.
“The overall attitude of our regional youth surprised me,” she explains. “There’s a very palpable, heightened level of maturity, which sees them stepping up from the conformity of their traditionalist predecessors, ready to embrace an identity of their own. In particular our female youth are challenging the traditional gender privileges that have made it a man's world are finally taking control of their lives, carving out a place for themselves in their societies as respected individuals, professionals and consumers.”
And this confidence is not confined to the region’s youth. One trend in particular, ‘Authentically Arab’ shows a growing taste for brands with genuine heritage and cultural resonance. Rather than ape trends from elsewhere, both brands and consumers are developing their own voice.
According to Ibrahim, the fashion and digital content sectors are leading the vanguard in this respect. “Fashion entrepreneurs have picked up on the region's need for uniqueness and individuality and have catered to this need through original concepts that are relevant to the modern day Arab consumer. Whereas, the lack of both informative and entertaining Arabic content in a region of over 310 million native speakers - who prefer Arabic over English content - is the driving force behind the proliferation of digital start–ups we're seeing today.”
But despite the growing confidence, consumers are still juggling with economic uncertainty and an insecure job market. The trend identified as ‘Interrupting Chaos’ reflects a yearning for stability, order and serenity – and Mennah reckons that work overload has driven this trend forward.
“The whole region is thrown into work overdrive to make ends meet in the face of today's uncertain economy and dry employment landscape,” she explains. “This is only exacerbated by the lagging public infrastructures and services in most of our non-gulf cities, making life irredeemably unbearable for its citizens and denies them the means to achieve their fullest potential.”
Overall though Mennah thinks that the trends identified in the JWT report suggest that 2013 is the year that the region is read to embrace an identity of its own. “The drivers of this change are the Millennial Arab youth – particularly our female youth. It's a mindset shift, that strikes a sensible balance between their Arab ethnicity and Western aspirations, and they are at a stage where they are defining themselves. Wanting to stand out as individuals in so many ways and seek out the modern day relevance of what they as new-age Arabs really need.”
1. RISE OF A NEW DEMOGRAPHIC DUO The report identifies two new demographic groups with growing self-esteem Power Woman and New-Age Muslim.
2. INTERRUPTING CHAOS The complexity and growing erraticism of people’s lives and an uncertain job market is leading people to seek our structure and simplicity.
3. MAXIMIZING MOBILE MOMENTS As urban lifestyles become more hectic and ‘hyper-tasking’ increases, people turn to their mobile devices to take control with significant implications for brands.
4. AUTHENTICALLY ARAB Products and brands with home grown heritage and relevance to modern-day Arab culture will find a positive response from consumers within the MENA region and internationally.
5. UNIQUENESS AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: A switch from conformity to individualism.
6. LIFE-DETOX Consumers’ awareness of and anxiety about toxic surroundings means that the desire to cleanse mind, body and environment will become a mainstream concern.
7. RETAIL ON-DEMAND Convenience is king in an ‘on-demand’ economy and consumers demand immediate gratification. Brands need to think imaginatively about where and how they sell products.
8. SUPER SENSORY EXHILARATION As our interactions and experiences shift to the digital sphere, consumers will come to appreciate ‘sensory stimulation’ that plays with or intensifies sensations. Brands need a multi-sensory appraoch.
Read the full report here