Arab Consumers Prize Innovation, Survey Finds

IPSOS research suggests heritage and quality are less important than in more mature luxury markets.

The Dubai Mall

DUBAI — Innovation — rather than brand heritage or savoir-faire — drives Arab consumers in their choices of luxury goods, according to market research firm IPSOS.

“This is a key difference between Japan, France and Italy, where innovation ranks much lower than heritage when it comes to the reasons for purchasing,” said Rémy Oudghiri, head of consumer trends and insights at IPSOS, unveiling the results of a new survey at the Arab Luxury World summit here. “In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it is the first reason why people purchase a product.”

The research also underscores that Arab consumers have the highest appreciation for luxury in the world.

“Middle East consumers are so eager to indulge themselves much more than other countries,” Oudghiri said, noting that when it comes to appreciation of luxury, Saudi Arabia, India and the UAE ranked the highest globally when consumers were posed the question “How much do you appreciate luxury on scale of 1 to 10?”


In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, consumers take exclusive brands as a given — and expect them to offer the very latest collections and trends.


“They like traditional brands, but they expect them to innovate,” Oudghiri said.

Arab consumers also tend to lump technology products — such as tablets, smart phones and laptops — alongside fashion and accessories.

“Apple here is considered a luxury brand. This is an important indicator that in the Middle East, people are might be traditional in their private lives, but when it comes to luxury and consumption, they are definitely oriented towards innovation,” he explained.


When asked what products best symbolize luxury, fragrance came out on top, with 74 percent of respondents in the UAE ranking it as number one. “To put this in perspective, in the U.S. and Russia, cars are most important symbols of luxury. That’s very different here,” Oudghiri noted.

For the survey, IPSOS interviewed a sampling of 2,000 of the top 10 percent of the population in the UAE and Saudi Arabia based on annual household income to probe what influences choices of luxury products.

Respondents in 15 international markets were surveyed over the last two years. This is the first year that the Middle East was included in the survey.