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KFC, Pepsi, Adidas and Nokia. These are a few of their favourite things…

KFC, Pepsi, Adidas and Nokia. These are a few of their favourite things…

Sidra Tariq gets down with the kids as she wades through AMRB data on what brands teens in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE prefer.

July 19, 2011 3:44 by


Adidas appears to be the frontrunner in the athletic shoes category in all three markets. Twenty-four percent in the UAE, 58 percent in KSA and 50 percent in Egypt have rated it among top two athletic shoe brands.

Nike and Puma have come in next for KSA and Egypt teens, but UAE teens have surprisingly put Aldo into the mix. Twenty percent of UAE teens (15 percent males, 26 percent females) ranked Aldo among their top two athletic shoe brands. “That is probably the strength of the brand,” says Bamane. “Although I’m asking [about] athletic shoes, the moment they think of shoes they are thinking of Aldo.”


Pepsi seems to dominate the soft drinks market in the three countries. The majority of the respondents (59 percent in the UAE, 62 percent in KSA, and 71 percent in Egypt) say it is among their two favorite soft drinks brands. Coca-Cola, although still a popular brand in the region, comes second in the list and ranks in the top two for only 33 percent of Emirati teens, 26 percent of Saudi teens and 28 percent of Egyptian teens. Mirinda and 7Up are also high on the list, particularly in the UAE and Saudi. And, once again, international brands get the highest ranking, but local brands Rabea and Bison make it on the Saudi list, while Juhayna makes it on the Egyptian list right after Coca-Cola and with only a 1 percent difference.

“Pepsi is a youthful brand,” says Ahmed El Azizi, PepsiCo’s marketing vice-president and chief marketing officer. “If you look at how Pepsi is, from a spirit perspective, from a communication perspective, it’s always been the voice of the youth. If you look at all the campaigns in the past – Generation Next, the Voice of the New Generation – you will always see that Pepsi is aimed towards late-teens, early college students, you know. So you are talking about 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds, those people entering the college years. Finished their high-schools, not started to work yet, that is really what Pepsi is about. People who are about to really want to be heard, to give their side, their look on life, and Pepsi has always had that youthful spirit and will always continue to have that youthful spirit. Of course it’s drunk by much older people as well, but when we talk it’s all about that youth.”


Lee is the most popular brand in the UAE when it comes to jeans, as the highest proportion (18 percent) of respondents listed it among their two favorite jeans brands. While Zara and Levi’s come next in the UAE market, with 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively, Zara is the most popular jeans brand among youth in KSA, and Levi’s in Egypt.

The study also looked at teens’ attitudes toward brands and products by measuring their level of agreement with certain statements. Twenty-five percent of UAE respondents strongly agreed that they preferred designer labels over store-branded merchandise, while only 16 percent in KSA and 11 percent in Egypt agreed. And when it comes to actions, 29 percent in the UAE strongly agreed that “I will always buy at least one outfit of the latest fashion in clothing,” 21 percent in Saudi and 17 percent in Egypt.  Meanwhile, 29 percent of UAE youth denied any interest in fashion magazines or attention to trends, as did 21 percent of Saudis and
30 percent of Egyptian teens.

Bamane says females were more passionate about fashion, beauty products and accessories such as handbags, while males were more driven toward technology/electronics and sports. “Probably [that’s because of] the way they have been brought up as children. Given the cultural disparities, or the gender disparities in the region, it is bound to happen.”

When marketers think of the MENA region, they often think of the region as a whole. And often, marketing and advertising in one country spills over to another.

Bhalla says that while the countries in the region have many similarities, it is important to look at them as separate blocks. “Within the three countries, the UAE seems to be the most developed market, if you look at it from a marketing point of view… in terms of their access to global brands, in terms of the retail facilities available here, and also in terms of their spending power. Especially Emirati teens. They have so much money that they really don’t know what to do with it,” he adds. “The Saudi teens don’t have as much as the Emiratis, but they are still fairly well off, and they also like to spend; whereas the Egyptian teen is really struggling, and doesn’t have all that much money – but even then, they are quite open to spending.”

However, it is not enough to know the market or the youth. You also need to know what the youth look for in a brand to be able to connect with them.“Quality and dependability are must-haves. That is something which everyone says I would want in a brand,” says Bamane. “Moreover, they are looking for fun and innovation – specifically the UAE teen; the KSA teen is more driven by technology as well.” She adds that brands also need to engage the youth – be it through traditional means or social media.

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1 Comment

  1. MK on July 20, 2011 11:38 am

    this is sad and alarming…enter ‘fast food nation’, the sequel!


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