The Middle East has been synonymous with big money for decades. The Middle East as a thriving global luxury market, however, is relatively new. In the Digital IQ Index®: Middle East Prestige report, one of the key takeaways is that despite growing demand in that region for high-end goods, brands’ digital efforts targeting consumers on the Arabian peninsula (i.e., Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) are inconsistent and compared to efforts in other markets like China, Russia and Brazil, still in their relative infancy. Over the past two years, the world has witnessed the power of social media in the Middle East. From using Facebook to organize politically to live-tweeting the fall of unpopular leaders, people in countries across this region have demonstrated how integral social networking sites are in their daily lives. And this isn’t just a young person trend; Eighty-eight percent of all Internet users in the Middle East say they access at least one social platform daily.


While E-commerce is steadily gaining retail market share in the U.S. and many western countries, Middle Easterners are still primarily going online to find communities to discuss pop culture, sports, and politics. Using a mobile device, tablet or even PC to research products and brands–and making the bigger step to actually purchase an item–are still not universally popular. In our new Digital IQ Index®: Middle East Prestige report, released yesterday, one of the four major areas of assessment of the 94 global and local brands involved their social media footprint and, more specifically, their investment in targeting consumers in the Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE markets.


In the infographic below, you get a sense of the brand breakdown, with local brands’ social presence not surprisingly outpacing that of their global counterparts. Facebook is the dominant platform, with approximately 58 million users across the Middle East. Of all the verticals included in this report (Beauty, Fashion, Retail, Hospitality, Watches & Jewelry), Beauty is far and away the best at local language translation. Index brands Vichy, L’OCCITANE, Bobbi Brown, and Avon all offer regional pages with Arabic content.


Some of these brands’ tabs are also entirely in Arabic, communicating a deep commitment to courting Middle Eastern consumers. Though the most adept vertical in overall digital performance, Hospitality brands lag on Facebook, with almost no tabs in English and some even posting English replies to Arabic comments and questions. In the Retail space, Marks & Spencer Arabia stands out for strong engagement relative to its community size. ( © – By Johanna Cox – )