User research is typically a key part of product development and business growth all around the world, but here at UserQ, we think it’s paramount for the MENA region.
With MENA being such a distinct melting point of cultures, behaviours, and habits of people from around the world, it falls down to businesses to make sure that they’re understanding their audiences here, and tailoring products to people’s unique cultural needs. Without thorough user research, brands will run the risk of failing to hit the mark – or not resonating with the hugely diverse MENA population.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of user research and why it’s so valuable for businesses in the MENA region.
As a whole, the entire MENA region is made up of many different nationalities and ethnicities – it’s a world full of nuanced needs and desires, especially in terms of how people perceive brands and use their services and products.
Take the UAE for example: a super diverse country with over 200 nationalities making up its population. Any start-up business looking to target people in the UAE needs to take hundreds of different cultures into account, including Arab nationals and expats from all over the world who have come to the UAE with specific habits, norms, and traditions that they’ve picked up back home.
It’s not just that MENA is a region with a high expat population…it’s also the fact that expats have certain assumptions that they’ve become accustomed to. For example, those moving from European and US countries might have expectations and demands for having super streamlined banking apps where you can access or send money in just a few clicks. So let’s say you’re a new fintech app looking to launch its product in MENA…it’d be important for you to carry out research to recognise these unique expectations, then tailor your designs and prototypes around the good banking experiences that Western consumers already need from you.
Businesses in the MENA also have to compete with the best in the global market, to be the best. This means there is a strong appetite for fast growth and to be first in class. If you don’t share the same strive for greatness, it’s all too easy to fall behind competitors making bigger waves.
Through user research, international companies trying to sell in the MENA region should learn more about the cultural customs here in order to understand what MENA customers want as a whole and who they are as consumers. Some of MENA’s main trends include convenience culture and offer culture – both of which are customs that investors and businesses are obliged to follow when they’re trying to earn MENA’s market trust.
Certain countries in MENA also have distinctive demographic make-ups. A staggering two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s entire population is under the age of 35, so there’s a strikingly-young population who are tech-savvy (especially when compared to other less tech-forward countries like in Eastern Europe for example). This means that any brands looking to market their products here should aim to create super-smart and digitally-advanced experiences for them – unlike anywhere else in MENA or around the world.
There’s no doubt that the MENA region boasts a forward-thinking culture where it’s super important for products to not just be fit for purpose, but also be new, bold, and ambitious.
However, despite MENA’s heavily digitalised consumer culture, it’s also important that businesses don’t forget MENA’s deep roots in the Arabic language. In Saudi Arabia, 70% of people still browse online in Arabic. So it makes complete sense to conduct user research in Arabic and tailor your digital products to how Arabic readers view things. It’s also important to take the many different Arabic dialects into account by using a more generalised colloquial language. Failing to market with MENA’s Arabic population in mind with these kinds of nuances means that millions of Arabic native speakers might be left behind.
Not only is user research important to MENA, but we’re also big believers that the region is one of the most exciting and interesting places to carry out research. MENA’s incomparable expat diversity and ultra-fast-growing business world certainly make our jobs thought-provoking here at UserQ.
We’re always learning new things about MENA’s diversified and ever-expanding culture, and highly recommend that you do too through our selection of top-level user research tools.
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