Country spotlight is an ongoing series on the AP blog, where our team of local and global experts showcase what there is to know about key regions across the globe.
This month, we shine the light on what the developing MENA region has to offer.
Overview of the MENA region
The Middle East and North Africa is a varied region of 22 countries, accounting for 6% of the total world population. MENA has grown in geopolitical importance and the region has undergone major social and economic reform. The population is young, increasingly educated and digitally savvy, meaning digital channels play a large role in shaping opinions. Mobile devices have enabled digital growth across the region, allowing people to shop online and pay via a mobile device.
Culturally, business negotiations can be lengthy and complicated, so understanding differences is key. Business norms vary throughout the region and hierarchy, titles and respect often contribute toward establishing strong relationships. There is a growing opportunity for advertisers to reach new audiences in the region through affiliate marketing. In this blog I will shine the light on the four countries that show the greatest affiliate marketing potential:
United Arab Emirates
With a population of 9.8 million people, the UAE is the leading country across MENA when it comes to digital innovation. UAE residents spend an average of three hours per day on social media, with content-rich YouTube being the most popular social media platform, followed by Facebook and WhatsApp. Budgets for influencers are also growing with advertisers spending between $1,000-10,000 per social media influencer campaign.
Affiliate marketing is an effective way to tap into the influencer marketing landscape in the UAE, targeting consumers on a performance basis. The country also leads as the most financially inclusive in the region, with many able to access financial services and payment functions. UAE consumers are the biggest online spenders across the MENA region, with a high demand for luxury goods and an average spend of $1,648 per shopper. The affiliate channel is far from being fully utilised and it is still a new concept for the market with plenty of opportunities.
Egyptians are social-media driven, with the number of internet users increasing in the last year by 22%, to 54.74 million users. Only 3.3% of the overall population (101 million) own a credit card, whilst 72% use cash for e-commerce purchases. Despite this, the country has huge digital potential, with growing support for new technology and the value of the consumer e-commerce market reaching over the £5 billion mark. Internet users tend to discover new brands using search engines, social media comments and social adverts, which are all central points to consider as part of an affiliate marketing strategy, as well as adapting to a predominantly cash based economy.
Qataris generally have a high level of disposable income and there is a growing demand for high-end, luxury products in this country. Using the affiliate channel, companies can access highly-engaged audiences, particularly with fashion and lifestyle influencers. With a population of over 2.86 million people, Qatar has some of the highest rates of social media penetration worldwide, standing at 99% in January 2020. Qatar continues to provide a digitally-savvy and attractive target audience for businesses wishing to expand into MENA.
In recent years Saudi Arabia has witnessed a retail boom and eCommerce is on the rise as it undergoes a rapid socio-economic transformation. YouTube is the most wide-spread social media platform and it is important to note that almost half of e-commerce transactions are completed using cash, with mobile users making up a large share of this market. Consumer activity across Saudi Arabia, which has a population of 34.5 million people, is affected by important religious observances and events. During the holy month of Ramadan people’s spending increases as they purchase food, clothes, and gifts for family and friends. In this part of the MENA region, social media users have jumped by 8.7%, indicating signs of digital growth and opportunities for advertisers to reach consumers through their affiliate marketing programme.
If you would like to find out about launching or growing your global affiliate programme download our EMEA affiliate marketing handbook.