MENA consumers remain frugal amid COVID-19; EY Survey

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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MENA Region
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A new survey conducted for EY Future Consumer Index has reported a paradigm shift driven by COVID-19 in consumer behavior. 

The survey which examined 1,018 consumers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE reveals that consumers in the region have become more cost-conscious preferring locally-made products.

Only 9 percent of MENA consumers versus 40% globally plan to “get back to normal” with their spending.

Irrespective of the gradual ease of restrictions across the economies, many consumers are still uncomfortable returning to their pre-COVID activities. The survey stated that only 26% of MENA consumers are comfortable going to a mall.

Ahmed Reda, MENA Consumer Industry Leader, EY, said: “One of the many things that both organizations and individuals have learned from the shared experience of the pandemic is how resourceful and adaptable they can be. Now, attention is turning to what the world might be like once the crisis is behind us. While companies can’t forecast with certainty what consumers will be doing 18 months from now, they will need to anticipate the consumer requirements and values they will be trying to serve.”

“As consumers re-evaluate their approach to personal consumption and adopt new habits, preferences, and attitudes for the future, companies will also need to ensure that their products meet expectations to either maintain or brand loyalty. This will have a pivotal impact on consumption patterns and consumer identities over the next few years,” he added.

The EY Future Consumer Index is a monthly poll that tracks consumer sentiment and behavior across the world.


  • 69% of consumers in the MENA region believe that the way they live their lives will significantly change in the long term as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 68% said their values have changed, and they look at life differently. This will have implications for what and how they consume in the future.
  • 78% of consumers will be more aware and cautious about physical health.
  • 73% will be more focused on value for money in the future.
  • 67% of consumers plan to decrease the amount they spend on non-essentials.