Many markets in the region are experiencing a massive increase in internet usage, up from 7.8 million users to 187 million users in the last decade.
Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO, TNS MENA said: "Over the past ten years, internet use in the greater MENA region is up 2,300%. I am seeing this as one of many indications that consumer brands must change the way they do business."
According to Clark, a recently published TNS Digital Life global programme looks at the behaviour of consumers in 60 countries. "The statistics show that 90 per cent of region-based consumers conduct research across all categories using the internet before purchase. They also indicate that e-commerce is set to grow in the region," he said.
Clark also said that as more people get online, consumer brands should polish and manage their customer service skills, right from pre-purchase research to product selection, purchase, delivery and after-sales.
Clark added: "The internet affords infinitive opportunities and we urge marketers to fast appreciate this or face being left behind. Indeed, online and mobile shopping looks set to play an even bigger role as support channels, software and devices continue to develop,"
In the UAE, many internet users spend an average of 15-hours per week online, on social-networking sites, video streaming sites, knowledge based activities and gaming. Clark said that this represents huge opportunities to marketers and the media, if tapped into
"Digital is fast becoming a primary media channel, with search engine ads currently influencing 20 per cent of product selection made by regional consumers. However, there is still the need to incorporate offline marketing strategies to drive traffic online in the first place. An integrated approach is needed and campaigns should include on-and off-line tactics," he concluded.