New findings trace the purchase journeys of Saudi luxury shoppers

June 2014

Google and Ipsos conducted a study to identify the profile of wealthy luxury shoppers in Saudi Arabia and to understand the research and purchase patterns of these consumers. The research surveyed people ages 25 to 65 who had made at least two luxury purchases in the past two years and had an annual household income of more than 270,000 SAR (~$72,000 USD), representing the richest 6% of households.

The work looked at the profile of these consumers, their typical paths to purchase and how digital media plays a role in discovery and decision.


Key takeaways 

  • Digital touchpoints are key in the purchase journeys of luxury shoppers
  • Nine out of ten luxury shoppers research online prior to purchase
  • Nearly half of luxury shoppers complete the sale online
  • Almost all luxury purchasers use search engines; sponsored links are one of the best formats for luxury brands
  • Video content is much more important for Saudi luxury shoppers than it is for luxury shoppers in mature markets

Who are these shoppers?

The research revealed most Saudi luxury purchasers are males age 49 and younger. Six out of 10 luxury buyers are wealthy thanks to financial inheritance, and 68% have an annual income between 270,000 and 480,000 SAR (~$72,000 and ~$128,000 USD). On average they bought nine fashion items and four items in the jewellery and watch category in the preceding two years.

What’s their relationship to technology and media?

Almost all luxury shoppers (91%) use at least one connected device, and on average they own 2.1 devices. The internet is the wealthy shopper’s constant media companion; they spend more time online than they do watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading print newspapers and magazines.

What luxury items are they buying?

Analysis focused on the last luxury good purchased covering five categories: clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, and watches. In terms of popularity, clothes led the pack, with watches running a close second and shoes, bags, and jewellery all tied for third. In 56% of cases, the shopper had purchased the luxury item for a specific event, spending an average of 5,005 SAR (~$1,334 USD) on fashion and 5,859 SAR (~$1,562 USD) on jewellery or watches.

How does digital fit into their purchase journeys?

At 48%, nearly half of Saudi luxury purchases are made online. While the primary barriers to purchasing luxury goods online are the lack of direct contact with the product and distrust of online payments, 51% of those who do shop online cited convenience as the key motivation.

How does digital fit into their research process?

Digital touchpoints are key, with nine out of 10 Saudi luxury shoppers performing research online, using search engines, sponsored links, video ads, and video content as main resources.

Search engines are the top online source used by buyers when looking for information about luxury goods (used by 76% of online researchers) followed closely by social or video (71%).

To give some perspective, in mature markets luxury buyers use social and video significantly less (at 19%).

In terms of devices, Saudi luxury buyers researching online use smartphones as the leading conduit to information, followed next by computers and then tablets.

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