After two years of acute economic and social instability, it’s still too soon to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. While some countries have brought the virus under control, in others infection levels remain high. And, there’s always the risk of dangerous new variants emerging. Even so, it does finally look like consumers across MENA (specifically KSA consumers) are starting to move on.
People throughout history have bounced back from era-defining events such as plagues, wars and natural catastrophes. First, there’s a shock that has to be survived. Then, there’s a period of crisis that has to be endured. Finally, there’s a rebound – changed by the events they’ve experienced, people try to create a new life for themselves, and a better world for future generations.
We’re entering that third phase now. Our eighth edition of the EY MENA Future Consumer Index, which focuses on KSA consumers, suggests that consumers have come to expect this kind of uncertainty and disruption; there’s nothing the pandemic can throw at them that they’ve not already seen. They want to make consumption choices that are born from aspiration rather than necessity. They want to stop reacting to events and start actively creating a normal life again. They care less about affordability and their own health, more about quality of experience and the future of the planet.
For consumer products companies and retailers, this is a key chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic story. Will your business rebound too? Can you reimagine your strategies for long-term value creation, aligning your purpose and portfolio around the consumer’s emerging post-COVID-19 pandemic priorities? This is an opportunity to become a relevant partner in the consumer’s effort to shape a new life. For many, this will require a profound transformation.
Consumers want a better version of normal
Consumers around the world want to get back to a feeling of normality, with 74% of KSA consumers in KSA saying this is something they are looking forward to. But what will that normal look like? Life won’t simply return to its pre-COVID-19 pandemic norms. The fabric of daily life has changed in so many ways, from how people travel and seek entertainment, to how they work and how they educate their children. Consumers now aspire to something different.
Many consumers want and expect at least some of their forced changes to stick. As a result of the pandemic, they are enjoying the chance to live and work more flexibly, they have a better work/life balance, and they have saved money. Looking to the future, 46% of KSA consumers want to keep working more flexibly and 42% of KSA consumers expect a better work/life balance.