DUBAI: The vast majority of Arab mothers, 82 percent, do not see themselves accurately represented in the adverts they see, according to a study by media company Webedia and advisory firm Native.
The aim of the research, carried out this year, was to better understand Arab mothers, who are the primary shopping decision-makers, driving 70 to 80 percent of purchase decisions, according to various studies.
“At a time when Arab mothers are going through important societal and professional transformations, the ‘Marketing to Arab Mothers’ study reveals alarming findings on the nature of the advertising sector,” George Maktabi, Webedia’s group CEO, told Arab News.
The reliance of advertisers on third-party data has increased over the years, as such data allows them to precisely target specific customers and audiences. In 2021, for example, businesses in the US spent $22 billion on third-party audience data, of which $13.3 billion was on the data itself and $8.7 billion on audience data-activation solutions, according to Statista.
In theory, access to copious amounts of such data helps marketers better understand their audiences and, therefore, communicate with them more effectively.
However, the study suggests the opposite is the case: 77 percent of Arab mothers surveyed said they feel misrepresented by the adverts they watch, and 67 percent said the image of their life portrayed by commercials does not reflect the reality.
“These data sources could reveal important findings on the digital identity and online behavior of ‘female-Arab-consumers,’” said Ahmad Abu Zannad, founder and lead strategist at Native.
“But the reality is deeper and much more complex for an Arab woman who is also a mother, navigating her recently transformed world, than the pages she has visited and the number of clicks on her record.”
Almost half, 46 percent, of those surveyed saw “zero resemblance” between their identity as an Arab mother and the image of that presented to them in adverts. The report therefore highlights how the portrayal in advertising appears to diverge from the reality for many.
For example, most adverts show impeccably neat and clean homes, with lavish meals laid out on a dining table — a far cry from the reality for an average Arab mother struggling to juggle work commitments and a personal life.
“A good starting point (for marketers) is to put genuine effort into deeply understanding Arab mothers and finding a human role for the brand to play in her life, which cannot be achieved by simply observing her online behavior,” Abu Zannad said.
Other findings of the research included the fact that 66 percent of the Arab women surveyed said they had recently started to focus more on themselves after decades of catering primarily to the needs of everyone else in their lives.
The report suggests Arab women and mothers are increasingly developing a diverse array of interests and hobbies, from ones that focus on the family, such as cooking and parenting, to more personal ones such as beauty and fashion, and even inter-generational activities, such as gaming, that can help them connect better with their children. When asked what life hacks they were most interested in, 59 percent of Saudi women said beauty tips and 41 percent said fashion.
As the influence of Arab mothers continues to grow, it is therefore increasingly important for the advertising industry to listen and cater to them, experts say.
Maktabi said: “It is a fact that they (Arab mothers) are a major force that will shape the future of commerce in our region, be it through their growing roles as individuals and/or as caretakers of future generations.”
He added that the study “does not aim to discredit the advertising sector” but “rather draw attention to grave lapses and put forward a recovery and transformative road map that puts the people back at the center.”