Most UAE residents use social media for purchase decisions

Consumers are increasingly using social media to interact with their favourite brands, says survey. (GETTY IMAGES)

A large majority of customers are actively seeking and searching product information online and through social media platforms, a study has revealed.

The survey, the first of its kind in the UAE on social media, was conducted by market research firm YouGovSiraj earlier this month. It covered a sample size of more than 750 people across the Emirates and included multiple income groups, ages and nationalities. More than 70 per cent of the sample group said they would look for online reviews before making a purchase decision, while more than 80 per cent said they would look for the website of the seller.

Akanksha Goel, the "chief enthusiast" at Socialize, a social media training house, said while most companies in the region were aware of the importance of including social media in their overall media relations and marketing plan, they lack the know-how on successfully creating buzz online.

"The hospitality sector has been an early adopter of social media marketing and uses tools such as Twitter and Facebook proactively," she said.

Nicholas Paillart, CEO of the Sherazade Group, a marketing firm and the parent company of Socialize, said: "Government institutions too are jumping onto the social media marketing bandwagon with DIFC using professional social media training to supplement their marketing efforts."

Interaction levels with corporate bodies online are also rising with 41 per cent of respondents saying they interacted with their favourite brands through platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn, while 65 per cent said they were more likely to interact with e-mails sent to their inboxes.

"This kind of research is important because it gives us numbers behind what we know to be a growing trend. The figures show us that businesses cannot afford to dismiss social media," said Joanna Longworth, Chief Marketing Officer, YouGov Siraj. "We are also able to see which platforms are popular, which are very useful for companies deciding which social media to focus on."

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