Dubai: It sure seems the UAE’s millennials are only too willing to be “influenced” by what they get to see and hear on social media.
If it’s a fashion tip or even a suggestion to spice up a dish, bloggers and social media influencers will do the talking on your behalf.
So much so, 71 per cent of them — between 18 to 40 years — are “happy” to take advice online before making up their minds to purchase something. Not surprisingly, beauty, fashion and food are areas where residents are “most likely to turn to social media influencers for recommendations”, according to a survey conducted by BPG Cohn & Wolfe in tandem with YouGov. The poll pulled in the views of 1,000 residents within this age group.
For marketers and the brands they own, the writing on the wall is clear. They had better do something to get on the right side of these influencers.
“Companies now have to take these online influencers seriously and listen to what they have to say and find creative and engaging ways to work with them to tell their story and reach customers in that vital 18-40 demographic,” said Taghreed Oraibi, Director — Consumer Practice at BPG Cohn & Wolfe PR.
Smartphones are the favoured mode millennials use to follow their choice influencers, with 68 per cent of those polled admitting that their eating out decisions are be prompted by online recommendations or reviews.
And 63 per cent are more likely to buy fashion or beauty products based on what these influencers might say.
Again, not much of a surprise here — Facebook was the platform of choice for influencers to voice their strong opinions on anything that catches their fancy. Of the respondents, 35 per cent said they followed food influencers on Facebook and 26 per cent did so on YouTube, while fashion and beauty influencers were intensely followed on Facebook (32 per cent) and closely tracked by the all pictures and videos platform Instagram (with 24 per cent).
“Today, social media influencers are not necessarily just bloggers who use words on traditional discussion or information sites,” said Oraibi. “You now find terms being used in the industry such as Instagrammers, YouTubers, and SnapChatters to define those who use a diverse range of different social media tools to influence consumer decisions through content that is often generated as videos, captioned images or graphics.”
So, who are these influencers winning over UAE’s millennials? Based on the study, the most popular fashion and beauty influencers were Huda Kattan, Joelle Mardinian, Ola Alfares, Lojain Omran, and Amina Shelbaya. And brands cannot overlook this detail — some of the influencers have followers running into the tens of thousands.
And the major reasons motivating individuals to follow these popular influencers were their personal style, beautiful photographs and ability to inspire other’s fashion and beauty style.
Other leading fashion and beauty influencers who were rated very highly in the study included Nadya Hasan (The Fierce Diaries) and Fouz Alfahad (The Real Fouz).
When it comes to framing culinary choices, UAE’s millennials pay heed to celebrity names Manal Alalem and Osama Al Sayed, apart from international names Gordon Ramsay and Sanjeev Kapoor, “rated as the most trustworthy social influencers followed by food critics and bloggers like Foodiva and the Food Sheikh”.
There are now more than 200 listed fashion and beauty social media “contacts” and a similar number for food classified as bloggers on Cision Point’s media database for the UAE.
It could well be that the ranks of the influencers could see further additions.
Brands and their agencies sure will be monitoring any such additions. “We need to be able to identify social media influencers who share common interests or viewpoints with those of our clients,” said Oraibi. “This will enable us to maximise the impact they have in reaching their target audience and deliver messages in a digital and credible manner.
“We want to find out just how influential they have become in a country that is more switched on and digital than many all over the world.”