Arab Luxury World 2019: Experts gather to learn more about Saudi women’s luxury spending habits

Saudi women take a complex decision-making process when purchasing a luxury item, a study noted. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 June 2019

Arab Luxury World 2019: Experts gather to learn more about Saudi women’s luxury spending habits

DUBAI: The lure of Saudi Arabia as a market for luxury retail was evident in the packed hall as Mathieu Yarak of the Choueiri Group took to the stage at the Arab Luxury World forum on Thursday to shed light on the purchasing habits of Saudi female consumers who go for luxury items.

Based on a research study conducted by the Choueiri Group in collaboration with market research firm Ipsos, the findings explained the “complex” journey an affluent Saudi woman embarks on when she decides to purchase a luxury accessory, in this case “handbags, watches and jewelry.”

A sample of 350 Saudi women of an affluent background were interviewed about their spending habits, with some surprising findings unveiled.

Yarak took to the stage in Dubai to explain the journey such women take when purchasing a luxury item, and split it into four parts: Research; shortlisting; reassurance and purchasing.

With the concept of “change or reward” listed as the top trigger when it comes to purchasing a luxury accessory, Yarak went on to explain that an overwhelming number of the women polled looked to the brand’s website to firm up their decision about what to buy, with the social media platforms coming in second.

When it comes to shortlisting the items, various factors come into play, including the brand’s identity, price and country of origin, with the traditional association of France and Switzerland with bags and watches, respectively, still holding weight in Saudi Arabia.

This, Yarak pointed out, is something luxury brands need to highlight in their conversation with Saudi women — “it’s all about heritage,” he said.

The brand’s availability in Saudi Arabia also played a major role in the polled women’s desire to purchase items, with an overwhelming chorus of “no” heard when they were asked if they are happy shopping online for high-end goods.

While the research, shortlisting and reassurance stages all take place online — with potential buyers visiting the brand’s website, luxury e-tailers and social media — the preferred point of purchase is largely bricks-and-mortar, with respondents saying the attention, care and service they receive in stores is what keep them coming back.

Participants also highlighted their desire for more localized advertising, with calls for Arabic-language campaigns and more Middle Eastern-looking faces standing out as a major opportunity for international luxury brands when it comes to their strategy in Saudi Arabia.


Meet Aya Barqawi, the Saudi-born social media star

Updated 18 August 2019

Meet Aya Barqawi, the Saudi-born social media star

  • Barqawi promotes what she calls ‘high-street fashion’
  • Barqawi’s Instagram posts are designed with digital frames to add a unique touch to her content

DUBAI: Between the luxurious fashion statements and international runways, Palestinian-Jordanian Aya Barqawi continues to inspire her followers with thousands of on-budget styles.

“I always try to make people feel inclusive. I want to end this intimidation that comes with fashion,” the Saudi-born blogger told Arab News.

Barqawi promotes what she calls “high-street fashion” and finds the challenge of adapting to international trends “fun.”

“I am looking for new ways to make trends work for me,” she said. “You just need a little bit of creativity and imagination.”

Like many women her age with similar passions, the 24-year-old was unable to study fashion in college because of a lack of opportunity in the Middle East. Now, as a design graduate, she incorporates her field of study with a social media career.

Barqawi’s Instagram posts are designed with digital frames to add a unique touch to her content. “Studying design helped me shape my visual identity on Instagram because I do a lot of graphic work on my photos. It makes it easier for me to create digital content,” she said.

The stylist also worked as a fashion photographer for a brand in Berlin. “I never thought they would pick me over people who are actually from Berlin, who were actually German,” she said. “But my work spoke for itself.”

Barqawi is always looking to motivate other women. “No matter what the field of work you are in, never underestimate yourself. Never second-guess yourself and never compromise your standards for anyone or anything,” she said.

The fashion blogger has also worked in media as a TV producer and segment producer. “I have done digital, I have done TV, so now I am just open to anything that comes my way,” she said.