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Tue 21 Sep 2010 02:36 PM

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'Enormous potential' in MENA online retail sector

Survey shows just three in 10 internet users in MENA region buy goods online.

'Enormous potential' in MENA online retail sector
ONLINE POTENTIAL: Men are more likely to buy electronics, while women go for clothes. (Getty Images)

The latest survey of internet users in the Middle East and North Africa region has shown just three in 10 purchase goods and services online.

The survey by online research company Effective Measure and Spot On Public Relations of 7,000 internet users found that highest percentage of internet shoppers in the MENA region was in GCC countries.

But, compared to other global markets, like the UK where 62 percent of internet users shop online, the region is far behind, the firms said in a statement.

"There is undoubtedly enormous potential for growth in the MENA online retail sector," said Brendon Ogilvy, vice president, digital insight at Effective Measures.

"Despite the fact that the overall level of online shopping activity is low, at 32 percent of internet users, that still represents a market of more than 20 million online shoppers across the Arab world."

The survey also found that female shoppers are more likely to buy clothes and accessories, while men more often go for electronics.

In the GCC, top buys online during June, July and August include airline tickets (31 percent), hotel reservation and tourism services (15 percent), books (15 percent), computer software (14 percent) and clothing, accessories and shows (12 percent).

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Ed 10 years ago

What exactly is this statistic supposed to mean? The MENA region has a population of over 400 million; the participants of this study therefore made up less than 0.00175 percent of the population of the area being studied. More specifically, even in the MENA region around 24 percent of the population have access to the internet - as an average of 30 percent in the Middle East and 18 percent in North Africa. This study was therefore conducted into around 0.007 percent of the relevant population. I appreciate that statistics are always a generalisation about a population, made from a small subsection of that population, but surely using such a tiny percentage of the population in question must make the statistic next to meaningless. In short, by investigating the activities of 0.007 percent of relevant people, this research has 'discovered' the well known fact that women tend to buy clothes online and men tend to buy electronics. As far as I can see, nobody is any better off because of this research. It was, basically, a total waste of time.

Brendon ogilvy 10 years ago

Well, that's certainly one opinion. We stand by the survey base for this report. For the record, the population of the countries covered in this survey is around 300 million and the number of Internet users comes in at 60-70 million. The 7,000 people surveyed was an appropriate base for the questions asked and is consistent with the sample size for countless other international surveys of Internet users carried out around the world by professional research firms. Due to the general lack of data in the public domain about Internet habits in the Middle East & North Africa, the objectives for this survey were quite simple in order to provide online professionals and business with some current baseline data on which to base assumptions and consider the market further. There's obviously more detail available in the survey report itself, which we're providing free of charge on request.