Consumer behaviour in Qatar has changed “completely and sustainably” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, suggests a new study by Roland Berger.
In an ongoing effort to build a better understanding of this phenomenon and the extent to which it has affected doing business, Roland Berger in Qatar conducted a “first-ever” Qatar-focused consumer study.
Over 300 interviews were conducted covering different segments, such as locals and expats, male and female consumers, and different age groups, among others, to analyse and better understand the lasting effect of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour.
Analysis was performed across multiple areas like buying patterns, media consumption, payment solutions, and purchase determiners to determine how these changed during the pandemic and which of these changes will have a lasting impact.
“This study has helped us unveil many important consumer behaviour trends that could help businesses in the country adopt effective ways that speak to consumers’ emerging requirements and needs.
“For example, our study reveals that the use of social media platforms increased by almost 70% amongst total users. This increase is logical, but what it entails in terms of new trends and dynamics shaping the interaction between brands and consumers is something that businesses might not be fully ready for,” said Dr Fabian Engels, senior partner and managing director at Roland Berger in Qatar.
Saumitra Sehgal, partner and head of Consumer Goods & Retail and Financial Services at Roland Berger in Qatar, stated: “In terms of spending trends, for example, and during the first half of 2022, about 15% of all consumers increased spending for food and another 20% have increased spending for hygiene products. Our study revealed that this development is not temporary – food and hygiene products are expected to grow in the future even further.
“Another clearly observed change is related to digital payments. The switch to digital is inevitable – shops all over Qatar need to act with the speed at which consumers are changing. Digital payment channels have scaled up rapidly during the pandemic, with 60% of local consumers having increased cashless transactions and 75% of all consumers using the cashless mode. The launch of new modes, such as Apple Pay has positively contributed to this trend.”
He added: “In terms of physical shopping, we see split consumer behaviour. A large part of all consumers (40% of total base) have stated that they will continue to decrease their visits to physical stores. This will completely change how and where we shop in Qatar.
“Promotional offers, as a commercial tactic, was cited as a top reason to get consumers back in stores, but safety standards came across as the second most important reason for consumers to shop in-person.”
On the other end, an equal percentage of consumers (40%) also expressed a desire to go back to visiting physical stores. This may show a form of hesitation that consumers are facing post-pandemic, where they are hesitant between revolting against past habits imposed by the pandemic and continuing with the relatively new but more meticulous practices, the study stated.
Engels said, “Businesses will suffer if they don't adopt the new changes – Qatar needs to prove itself resilient and adaptable once more. The world will never again be the same as it was before Covid-19, so businesses must be ready to change and adapt to the new normal taking shape around them.”