Shoppers in the Gulf region are among the most open with their personal information, with 67 per cent willing to share their data, second only to India, reveals a new global survey by leading loyalty provider, Aimia Inc. (TSX: AIM).
The survey of over 24,000 respondents from ten countries including the US, Canada, Australia and India, also showed room for growth in the Gulf’s loyalty sector, with the lowest number of consumers using a loyalty programme - 71 per cent, versus the global average of 84 per cent and as high as 90 per cent in Canada and France.
The combination of these factors, Aimia believes, indicates the Gulf holds a significant opportunity for organisations that do not currently offer loyalty programmes for their customers. “The results demonstrate what we have believed for some time - that the Gulf and wider Middle East is a particularly strong area for growth in the loyalty industry. Whilst we have seen the number of programmes increase over recent years, there is clearly still huge potential for organisations to create or expand their loyalty offering,” said Paul Lacey, Managing Director, Aimia Middle East. Just how much customers in the Gulf are willing to share, and to whom, varies greatly by industry. According to the Aimia Loyalty Lens report, when asked to rank out of ten the degree to which they are comfortable with businesses handling their personal data, an overwhelming majority of consumers (81 per cent) put banks in the top three, along with supermarkets (73 per cent) and telecommunication providers (72 per cent). Conversely, 32 per cent of consumers place social networks in the bottom two of institutions they trust and 28 per cent of consumers place online search engines at the bottom. “Consumers are increasingly required to trust companies to handle their personal details. Transparency about how data is being collected and used will become a key differentiator for businesses going forward. Businesses that are clear and offer a better customer experience through the use of that information will build greater trust and loyalty,” Mr Lacey added. Adjust familiarity based on the audience Customers in the Gulf region are also more trusting than customers in other markets and this is reflected in the figures, with only 12 per cent having concerns over data security versus the global average of 20 per cent. However, there is a fine line between providing a personalised experience and coming across as too familiar.
With the data retailers now have, they can greet each customer by name. In the Gulf 63 per cent of customers would be comfortable if hotel staff addressed them by their first name, while only 44 per cent of customers would be comfortable if fuel attendants did the same. Supermarket customers were the happiest if the company sent them offers on their mobile phone (56 per cent), while only 41 per cent of those customers would be comfortable if supermarkets advertised to them based on previous online searches. Mr Lacey explains that opportunities for personalising messages to Gulf consumers need to be met with caution and adjusted based on the audience: “While growth and the potential for the launch of more loyalty programmes is positive news for consumers it means the pressure is on for providers to maintain and increase this level of engagement through relevant and rewarding experiences.
“The appetite shown by customers in the Gulf to share information will allow many retailers to put extra focus on personalising communications for customers. But it’s important for businesses to know when and where it’s appropriate to use this information to engage consumers, and the variations between industries and nationalities. The companies that win will be the ones that listen to their consumers’ preferences and use data wisely to build mutually beneficial relationships.”