Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Consumers Fight Taboos in Middle East

Advertising Agency
London, UK
JWT MENA predicts hacktivism and social change in 2014 trend report

In its second annual forecast of MENA centric trends for the near future, JWT’s report spotlights how the hyper-connected progressive Arab is at the centre of many of the region’s trends.  Transitional times in the Middle East and North African countries - where economic uncertainty and social tension are driving cohorts to take responsibility for shaping their own futures – is seeing crowd power and technology, driving communities to enable self-sustainable lifestyles.


The report discusses how in a region where extremist doctrines are creating social struggles, growing numbers of young Arabs are questioning long-accepted norms.  They are forming an alternative sociocultural revolution with the demise of many practices MENA societies held dear for centuries.  The young Arab sees this as a necessary part of constructing a world in which he has control by Truncating Taboos.  Mature consumers want more daring and unscripted experiences – in fact, the gap between this and the sanitized world of political correctness has never been bigger with 72% of the MENA adults polled stating they would purchase brands that ‘dare to be different’.


Yet trends don’t happen in isolation, and JWT’s report demonstrates how Crowd Hacktivists, responding to different drivers such as “overburdened or inefficient institutions” are harnessing young Arabs’ creativity, digital skills and ‘wevolution’ mindset to create an entirely new form of activism which addresses the challenges of modern society.  The do-it-yourself gene of young Millennials is creating start-ups that work around roadblocks, setting in motion what Habib Haddad, CEO Wamda (the start-up accelerator supported by Abraaj Capital) describes as, a “deep-rooted desire to change the status quo.” 


In line with these developments, the report highlights in (Pre)Purchased how a passion for authenticity and mistrust of institutions has given rise to engagement with projects at the pre-development stage.  One of the biggest draws of this development is the ability consumers have to buy into what they really need.  In a market where 64% of young Arabs claim they would put their trust in consumers rather than institutions, because consumers have no hidden agenda, it is important to note that globally crowd funded Arab projects are on the rise. Now is the time for brands to look at how they can re-define their experience with customers yearning to participate in product creation.


Other trends the report reveals in a well substantiated document that provides supporting heat maps, drivers, data points and current manifestations include Hello I’m an Expert, “Faux”stalgia and Fabulously Flawed, where super niche interests and a craving for retro see the Millennial mindset shifting from optimism to realism.


“Many people placed high hopes on 2013 being the year much desired changes would come about in the region” said Mennah Ibrahim, Head of Brand Intelligence at JWT MENA.  “With the revelation that this didn’t and won’t happen via official bodies and institutions, many Arabs are making 2014 the year they take those changes into their own hands and create the world they need to live in.  Their continuous connectivity and intent to live better for longer is driving them to address our transitional times and no longer endure unmet social needs.”


Amal el Masri, Chief Strategy Officer JWT MENA commented, “Since its inception JWT has pioneered the understanding of consumer behavior.  Our first regional Trend report in 2013 sought to provide clarity in the chaos of shifting political and economic factors weighing on MENA consumers.  Each of those 8 Trends showed significant manifestations in the 10 months since the report was launched.  Perhaps the most powerful of all was Authentically Arab, which we see impacting 8 out of the 10 Trends released today.  This is valuable intelligence for anyone wishing to leverage opportunities emerging in MENA’s complex yet dynamic market place.”


More significant trends reported in JWT MENA's 10 Trends for 2014 report included Maximising Mobile Moments (lifestyle multitasking moving over to lifestyle hyper-tasking), Uniqueness as a Competitive Advantage (stepping up from conformity to individuality, embracing anything that enables unique prominence), Interrupting Chaos (placing greater emphasis on structure, reassuring simplicity and certainty to regulate the chaos) and the Rise of a New Demographic Duo (a progressive power woman and the new-age Muslim).


JWT MENA’s 10 Trends for 2014 is a result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWT Brand Intelligence in MENA throughout the year.  Specifically for this report quantitative surveys using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, were conducted with adults in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon, in November 2013. The report includes input from JWT’s regional planning community and interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including academia, health & fitness, media and technology.

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