Changes are happening rapidly, society is adapting & modernizing, event attendance is becoming diverse. Not only did the sudden change bring a shock to all generations in the country but also opened a door full of opportunities. I look back to my experience in Saudi Arabia 4 years ago where malls were only accessible to men during specific days of the week and I compare it to my most recent visit where I witnessed men & women of all ages maneuver and enjoy the Kingdom’s malls, restaurants and coffee shops without restrictions. This acceptance of the change reflects how the younger generations have become more liberal due to various exposures such as; the internet, traveling, and other cultures.
The most high profile example is of course the change in legislation that granted women the right to drive and an increase in female participation entering the workforce. A law was also put in place for both genders to receive equal pay. Socially, the kingdom is easing restrictions on entertainment and one major example was the opening of cinemas across the country, which allows the Saudi population to access a previously banned form of entertainment. Various other entertainment events took place to date and this is expected to increase; the General Entertainment Authority aims to have 3,000+ events annually by the end of 2020. Due to these changes new forums of discussion are being witnessed across social/digital mediums.
Previously as advertisers we used to face a major issues identifying the most effective ways to reach our target audience. This was due to lack of data, fake profiles, and other challenges. The interests that the audience/data we have on these users will be enhanced due to these recent changes. We will have a strong understanding on these individuals and be able to categorize them into buckets for us to target them with relevant local Ads.
The question to ask is if advertisers would now need to change their advertising methodology with all these social reforms occurring? Moving forward the approach should not be replacing our methodology but enhancing through the now known data spheres. For example we know that women started driving, which is a chance for automotive industries to gear up and start creating female oriented campaigns where the content is more skewed towards females. At this point the creative should be portrayed in a smart way to grasp the consumer’s attention and focus the efforts to cars that would appeal to a Saudi female. Not only are the creative’s female oriented but the targeting and data points should be focused on this segment as well; be it interest targeting, behavior targeting, etc… This will translate into robust re-targeting campaigns and in depth creative performance analysis. However, during an interesting discussion I’ve had with a female Saudi consumer, she mentioned that not all women are actually open/wanting to drive and if they did, they actually already own a few cars; clearly time is needed to fully understand the Saudi female car market.
In line with the emancipation of the Saudi entertainment market, we are also expecting to see an increase in the volume of conversation happening in KSA across all social platforms. Through social we can now tap into these conversational moments in order to create personalized content accordingly. However, due to the nature of this audience my professional recommendation would be to utilize short/crisp branded creatives to engage with the audience. Female Saudi Influencers, have maintained a prominent presence in the market but lacking when it comes to portraying their personal lives. A byproduct of these social changes can slowly be seen changing this fact.
Due to previous Saudi social conditions the social/digital media ecosystem was not able to evolve to its full potential but in light of the new changes across the kingdom, I for one am very excited to be part of these new developments.