The Arab population is one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the world. In Arab markets and around the world, people and companies across industries are interested in engaging this large and lucrative young segment. But while many tend to group young Arabs from different countries together due to similar circumstances, such as fluctuating economic growth and high unemployment, where they're from can affect how they understand and interact with the world around them.
A recent study covering the two most populated Arabic countries—Egypt and Saudi Arabia (KSA)—indicates that while these countries' young Arab populations have some similarities, their perceptions of basic feelings, including happiness, can differ. And these nuances are crucial to reaching this growing group of consumers.
Most young Arabs from both Egypt and KSA identified happiness as a sense of freedom. However, multiple factors can influence a person's happiness, and these countries' youths define the nuances of this feeling differently.
For almost half of Egyptian youth respondents (48%) happiness is a sense of freedom, followed by helping others (47%) and having a purpose in life (44%). Meanwhile, 37 percent of KSA youth respondents indicate they feel happy by a sense of freedom and that additionally, having a purposeful (34%), altruistic life (29%) means happiness for them.
For good or ill, Arab youth in both these markets are undergoing a massive transformation thrust upon them by global crisis and regional instability. But while a sense of freedom may unite young Arabs, the manifestations of such freedom differ slightly amongst the youth of these two countries. For young Egyptians, freedom is more related to the self-expression, as they strive for a society with preference for cooperation and caring. Meanwhile, freedom has many layers—including expression, individuality and decision autonomy—for Saudi youth.
Understanding distinct perceptions like defining happiness and other feelings can help marketers, advertisers and brands better communicate with and ultimately engage these consumers in both countries. In the end, however, it is only important that Arab youths' interpretation and living of freedom makes them feel happy!
The Nielsen Imagine Youth Survey was conducted December 2013–March 2014 and currently covers the largest and most lucrative Arab regions of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The findings are based on 2,200 face-to-face interviews with Arab youth, as well as 20 mini group discussions, 20 slice-of-life observations and eight youth-expert interviews. The sample has quotas based on age, gender, and location for each country; it's weighted to represent the urban population. The survey covers a wide variety of topics, including beauty, personal grooming, health and wellness, digital and technology, media habits, share of wallet, shopping and travel, among others. It also dives into category interaction for food and beverages, eating out, fashion, banking, automobiles and more, capturing incidence, depth of use and brand preferences.