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Always-On in

Saudi Arabia
Introducing the Always-On Connected Consumer
The oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed an enormous growth
in internet usage and social media. The market records the highest Twitter
penetration in the world (41%)
, as well as being home to the worlds
top per capita of YouTube
users demonstrating the growing appetite of
residents to engage and communicate online. With internet usage reaching
a critical mass (three out of four residents now access the internet), a new
segment named Always-On Connected Consumers has emerged. These
can be classied as those who access the internet on a daily basis as well
as accessing the web via a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
M Shaharyar Umar
Marketing Director
(Pan Arab Research Centre)
continued > > >
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29% of Saudi residents are Always-On Connected Consumers and the segment is growing rapidly. Not
surprisingly, youth forms the core of Always-On as 72% of the segment falls into the age group 15-34.
Only 10% of Always-On are 45+. More than 75% of Always-On reside in Western and Central Provinces
and these two provinces share 65% of the total adult population in Saudi Arabia.
The past and the present
A declining trend in usage of xed telephony, desktop PC or even conventional laptops is clearly visible,
whereas mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are gaining popularity. Laptop penetration
seems to have already peaked at around 61%, while tablets are now gaining in usage with 25% penetration
amongst adults. Alongside this, every adult in Saudi Arabia owns a mobile phone. Smartphone penetration
crossed the half way mark around two years ago, which demonstrates the desire for portable online
devices and signies the establishment of the Always-On. There exists a mammoth opportunity for mobile
commerce as nearly half of the Always-On segment make payments via mobile devices. Additionally a
similar percentage access email on their phone. 25% of the segment has accessed mobile TV in the past
12 months. Gaming is growing very fast and 56% of Always-On play games on their mobiles compared to
40% of the average adult.
Apps are taking centre stage
Apps have taken a centre stage in the consumers life throughout Saudi Arabia with 41% usage amongst
the total population. 26% of Always-On adults have consumed paid apps and furthermore 61% of them
use either free or paid for apps. Gaming tops the type of apps used, with 39% of Always-On Connected
Consumers claimed to have played compared with 24% of the total adult population. Social networking
apps closely follow with 35% usage and communication apps like Whats App are being used by 33% of
Always-On consumers. News apps have a usage of 25% amongst Always-On adults.
Always-On in Saudi Arabia
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continued > > >
Figure 1: Always-On Connected Consumers
(Daily internet users who also access the web either on their mobile phone or tablet)
Base: Total adult population (15+)
Source: Saudi Arabia TGI
Tech Savvy
Social Seekers
Always-On in Saudi Arabia
> > >
The role of social networking
Social networking is used by 41% of the total adult population and the average adult spends over three
hours a day on social networking sites. Always-On adults are 72% more likely than the average Saudi
Arabian adult to use social networking and this has had an impact on the way in which consumers stay in
contact with others in their personal life. The average number of active social networking contacts is 63
and this has exceeded the average number of active face to face contacts (61). 62% of social networkers
are daily users and this gure reaches 70% amongst Always-On users. Every fth adult (20%) accesses
social networking sites on a mobile device compared to 36% for the Always-On Connected Consumer.
For brands, social networking holds a signicant importance as 71% of Always-On Consumers have visited
social media sites, 30% have visited brand pages and 23% have commented in a brand page and have liked,
plus or promoted a brand page. 12% have even registered a complaint on a brand's social networking page
demonstrating its signicant position as a modern day communications platform. These gures increase
when considering the Always-On Consumers who use social media almost 50% visit brand pages and a
third have posted a comment and have liked, plus or promoted a brand page in the last 12 months.
8% of the adult population and 12% of Always-On Connected Consumers have published a blog in the past
year. 57% of Always-On Connected Consumers read a blog compared to 39% for the total adult population.
Considering the ofcial language its no surprise that the Arabic language share in blog reading is as high as
91%. Along with this, the Arabic language share with regards to search engine content is also high at 67%.
Online habits
The online nancial and travel habits of the Always-On is also signicantly different from the average
adult. 40% of Always-On have accessed their bank accounts online as compared to only 23% for the
national average. Always-On are around 70% more likely than an average adult to buy an air ticket
online or booking a holiday using the internet. In fact, 31% of Always-On have bought an airline ticket
and 15% have booked a holiday online.
8% of Always-On Connected Consumers have made online purchases with vouchers (including deals or
coupons sites such as groupOn, Cobone and NailtheDeal etc.), compared to 4% for an average adult.
Figure 2: Connecting with brands via social media activities in last 12 months:
Base: Total adult population (15+)
Source: Saudi Arabia TGI
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Always-On Connected Consumers
All Saudi Arabia adults
Registered a complaint
in a brand/
manufacturer's page
'Liked' or'+' a brand
page in social media
Commented in a
brand page
Visited brand/
manufacturer's page
social media
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Always-On in Saudi Arabia
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The changing daily life
The internet has manifested a change in the daily life of a Saudi adult. More than half of adults agree with
the statement that social networking sites are an integral part of social life. Half the population agrees
that using the internet can become addictive and this statement is agreed by 80% amongst the Always-On.
The following Time Diary charts illustrate a typical day in the life of an Always-On Connected Consumer.
We see the internet is acting both as an independent media vehicle and one which is capable of carrying
others. Printed newspapers with a total penetration of 54% is facing a challenge as one out of ve adults
(20%) reads the online version of a newspaper resulting in publications adapting and responding to this
change in the industry. 53% of the total adult population seems satised with the change as they agree
that more sophisticated audio-visual technology has improved their quality of life. Sites that allow users
to engage, express and communicate will have success with consumers as every second adult (50%)
agrees that they value websites that allow input from their users. Amongst Always-On the gure stands
tall at 75%.
Its clear that advertisers now have more targeting options and the opportunities for brands are changing
and deepening. Reacting to the change and understanding the consumer from a 360 degree perspective
are key elements in effective targeting.
Figure 3: Always-On Connected Consumers
Time diary of selected activities throughout the 24 hour day in Saudi Arabia
(note variations in vertical axis scale)

Base: Always-On
Source: Saudi Arabia TGI
For more information, contact
TGI at
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