Saudi Arabia flag Saudi Arabia: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in Saudi Arabia

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
The Saudi population represents 0.45% of the world's population with an estimated 35.8 million inhabitants in 2022 (UNFPA). Some 42.2% are women according to the latest estimates of Stats SA. The population increases by 1.6% per year, bringing the country's density from 9.6 inhabitants / km2 in 2000 to 16 inhabitants / km2 in 2020 (World Bank, latest data available). According to the World Bank around a third of the population residing in Saudi Arabia was born outside the country. The median age is 32.4 years in 2022 while it was 21.3 years in 2000 (Data Reportal). This ageing of the population can be seen at all age group levels. The  0/14 age group represented 24% of the population in 2022 compared to 41.7% in 1995, the 15/64 age group 72% in 2022 against 55.3% in 1995 and those aged 65 and over 4% against 2.9% over the same period (UNFPA). As this ageing is accelerating, the Saudi government even estimates that the over 60s could represent 25% of the population by 2050.
The number of households is 5.46 millions of which 35.9% are foreign and 64.1% Saudi (Stats SA, latest data available). According to the country's General Statistics Authority (latest data available), households have an average of 5.9 people and 52% of them are in Mecca or Riyadh. The majority of the population is urban with 84.7% of Saudis living in the city in 2022 and a third of whom live in settlements with more than one million residents (Data Reportal and World Population Review). There are four of these,  Riyadh (capital and the most populous city in the country with more than 4 million souls), Jeddah, Mecca and Medina. According to the World Bank, 98% of the population aged 15 and over was literate in 2020. Thus, 96% of women and 99% of Saudi men know how to read and write. The enrolment rate has increased significantly in the last ten years. According to UNESCO, 92.9% of the population attended primary education in 2020, compared to 96.6% in 2016. Some 96.2% of the population had secondary education in 2020 compared to 89.7% in 2016 and 70.6% of the population attended tertiary education in 2020 whereas only 58.3% had this chance in 2014. While unemployment affects 7.4% of the total population in 2021, it concerns 22.3% of young people aged 15 to 24, and 21.6% of women looking for work (only 3.7% of men) (World Bank). The hiring sectors are services (73% of total employment), industry (25%) and agriculture (2%) (World Bank).
Purchasing Power
In Saudi Arabia, GDP per capita PPP was $ 46,759 in 2020 compared with $ 39,882 in 2000, according to the World Bank. A five-year survey data issued by the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT, latest data available) showed that the average monthly income for Saudi families amounted to SAR 14,820 in 2018, up 8.9% from 2013’s income of SAR 11,980. The average monthly income for individuals (Saudis and residents) reached SAR 2,485 in 2018, compared to SAR 2,062 in 2013. One of the main problem of Saudi Arabia is the low household savings ratio, which stood at 1.6 percent of annual disposable income for Saudi nationals in 2018, which is significantly below the 10 percent global standard recognized as the minimum level to ensure long-term financial independence.
The kingdom has a two-tier economy made up of about 16 million Saudis, with most of the rest foreign workers. They have lower income and work mainly in the construction and maintenance sector. The poverty rate among Saudis continues to rise as youth unemployment skyrockets.
Another notable inequality is women's access to education, work and outdoor activities. While Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken a more progressive approach in granting driving licenses the kingdom remains one of the world's most lagging countries in terms of gender equality. In particular, gender segregation and women's wards prevent women from working, making Saudi Arabia one of the lowest countries in the world for women to access jobs. According to Stats SA, the proportion of women that is economically active is 34.9% (Q4 2021), far below the 79.5% male labor force participation rate.
Consumer Behaviour
According a survey of McKinsey & Company, Saudi consumer optimism has remained steady throughout the Covid-19 crisis, even if more than half of consumers have seen a decline in income savings. Most Saudi shoppers go to shopping centres for food, clothing and electronics. They can be divided into five broad categories based on their behaviours. The savvy consumers, brand savers, multi-channel buyers, discounted converts and selective spenders. More generally, Saudis prefer quality over quantity (two thirds of consumers value quality over price) and are attracted by international brands, especially luxury brands. However, in recent years there has been a change in the behaviour of consumers in the Arab world in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular. They pay more attention to prices and are therefore less loyal to brands. More than half of Saudi Arabian consumers have become more mindful of how they spend their money. Consumers tend to change to less expensive products, research brand and make shopping lists before buying. As the economy is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers’ confidence level is increasing and the great majority of them have a positive outlook about the future (Ipsos, March 2022). Since the pandemic they focus more on healthy products, have a better work-life balance and have become more digital (PwC, March 2022).

The e-commerce market in the MENA region is particularly promising and represents the emerging trend in Saudi Arabia, where it grew about 60% in 2019-2020. It is expected to reach USD 13.3 billion by 2025 (Boston Consulting Group and Meta Platforms). The great majority of Saudis (77%) are shopping online more frequently than before the pandemic (Mastercard). A behaviour strongly focused on their mobile phones with more than half of internet users making their purchases smartphones and barely a quarter on a computer. This is mainly due to the predominance of a young and connected population - the internet penetration rate stood at 97.9% of the total population in 2022 according to Data Reportal - that seeks to save time and money, but also by the arrival in Saudi Arabia of new secure online payment methods. E-consumers are mainly men, aged from 25 to 44 years. The market's largest segment is Fashion with a projected market volume of US$3.84 billion in 2022, then there are electronics & media and food &personal care (Statista).
Consumers Associations
Consumer Protection Association of Saudi Arabia
Main Advertising Agencies
Porter Novelli
M&C Saatchi
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller

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Latest Update: July 2024