Qataris are the biggest buyers of luxury goods in the Middle East region, closely followed by consumers in Bahrain, according to the American Express Middle East Luxury Spending Tracker.
Luxury goods buyers in Qatar spend up to $5,000 a month on cars, high-end electronic goods and fashion accessories, while consumers in Oman and Jordan are the most conservative shoppers spending less than $250 per month, said the tracker which was undertaken through face to face interviews among a random sample of 1,000 residents in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.
The random sample of respondents included the middle income group, as well as an affluent demographic, defined by minimum annual household income in excess of $50,000.
The survey was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), an global research-based consultancy, on behalf of American Express Middle East.
According to the report, the spending on premium goods and experiences by consumers in the Middle East region is on the rise.
Luxury products such as cars, high-end electronic goods and fashion accessories being the preferred purchases over experiential luxury such as holidays and spa treatments this year, it added.
The Tracker revealed that in all markets except the UAE, consumers plan to boost spending on luxury goods and experiences through the end of 2012, as their personal circumstances improve and they develop greater awareness of brands and high quality products.
Fashion topped the list of preferred purchases in 2012, with 37 per cent of respondents saying they enjoy shopping for fashion-related items.
Cars were also a leading luxury purchase in 2012, with 31 per cent of respondents planning to buy new vehicles this year, the survey stated.
American Express tracker pointed out that automobile purchases were highest in the UAE with 42 per cent looking to buy new cars in 2012, compared to only 24 per cent of Bahraini respondents. Other favoured purchases included high-end electronic goods and personal accessories.
“Consumer attitudes towards spending have begun to improve significantly and there is a noticeable rise in spending on luxury goods and experiences across the region,” remarked Mazin Khoury, the chief executive officer, American Express Middle East.
As well as looking at levels of spending, the survey also explored the most influential factors when consumers make luxury purchasing decisions and where they prefer to shop.
Unlike other countries in the region, consumer spend on food and dining out was remarkably high in the UAE, a likely reflection of the considerable array of international dining options in the country.
The survey also found that quality and brand name are the leading factors which influence consumers’ luxury purchasing decisions.
Khoury pointed out that quality was by far the biggest driver of luxury purchases among consumers, though the brand name also remained a key deciding factor.
“Those surveyed said that the brand name was key in determining spend, in addition to sales, price reductions and advertising. It is only in the UAE that a friend’s recommendation carried the greatest weight,” he noted.
Dubai favourite shopping hub
When it comes to the ideal shopping destination, Dubai is almost universally seen as the prime location for purchasing branded luxury products, selected by 65 per cent of respondents, said the American Express survey.
The emirate was named the preferred shopping destination by 88 per cent of respondents from the UAE, 81 per cent from Oman, 78 per cent from Bahrain and 67 per cent from Qatar, the report added.