Global payments technology company, Visa has unveiled the results of its Professionals Study, conducted in the UAE. The study is part of a global research by Visa that looks at consumer spending habits, priorities and optimism about the future.
The UAE study, based on responses from UAE citizens and residents aged 18-to-55 who hold at least one payment card, revealed that more than half of UAE professionals are optimistic about future employment opportunities and personal finances, and believe the country’s economic situation will improve in the coming 12 months.
Ihab Ayoub, Visa General Manager for the Middle East and North Africa region, said: “The Visa Professionals Study highlights a strong correlation between outlook on the global economy and the expectation for spending on discretionary items such as holidays and nights out. Confidence in the UAE’s economy generally goes up in line with increasing confidence about future employment opportunities and personal income.”
The study showed that 25% of UAE professionals are driven by status, 23% by quality and 20% by exclusivity, followed by experience at 14% and brand association and 18% in acquiring luxury items. Professionals in the age group 18-to-29, as well as those who earn more than AED 35,000 per month, are more inclined towards luxury as a display of status and a way of enjoying exclusive products.
Individuals focused on quality prefer products that are long-lasting and durable, and the choice of luxury goods for them is always practical. These professionals are likely to hold between 1-to-2 credit and debit cards on average. They are likely to compare prices and reviews before making a purchase, and spend higher amounts on food and dining, clothing, personal care and investments.
Status seekers use products that are often endorsed by celebrities and use wealth to buy more items they personally desire. They believe luxury is a sign of social standing and enjoy attracting attention from their peers. These professionals are more likely to be 18-to-29 years old who are not yet married. They are more inclined towards Visa Classic credit cards and spend more frequently on designer clothes, furniture, holidays and electronics.
Professionals who are exclusivity focused generally own products before others, and like getting services and experiences that are specifically catered to their preferences. They are more likely to be males (63%) who make more than AED 35,000 per month (37%) and who have teenage children. These professionals spend more on family holidays, furniture and cars.
UAE professionals are digitally engaged, frequently using social-networking sites and other online services such as video streaming sites, and they also use the Internet to make online purchases. This has translated to greater online bill payments and shopping for cinema tickets and fashion and beauty products, and has placed UAE professionals among the leaders in e-Commerce in the region, according to the study findings.
Professionals aged 18-to-29 are more likely to view card usage as advantageous over cash and are most likely to purchase products on mobile devices. Convenience, security, acceptance at merchants and rewards are among the main drivers of digital payments.
Among professionals, it is clear that overall online card usage preference is strong. Nearly 75 per cent of the respondents said they prefer using credit cards over debit cards and mobile wallets, but 43 per cent said they would be open to using mobile wallets since they are more secure, help track expenses and come with no additional charges or fees.
Given the optimism about the global economy among UAE professionals, the outlook for spending on discretionary items such as holidays and nights out is strong. About 40% of the respondents said they expect to spend more on family vacations in the next year, while 37% said they intend to donate more to charity.
“With services such as digital wallets and contactless payments becoming increasingly popular and more widely accepted, especially among younger professionals, Visa is well positioned to support the growing adoption of innovative digital payment services,” Ayoub said.
UAE professionals are amongst the most frequent travelers in the Middle East, having taken on average 1-2 overseas trips in the past six months. South and Southeast Asia and Middle Eastern countries are top destinations, and many are also travelling to Europe and the United States.
Three in five UAE professionals travel abroad – usually in groups of 2-to-3 – more often for leisure rather than business. When travelling abroad, they spend mainly on travel packages, airline tickets, accommodation and shopping. Younger professionals travel more frequently than their older counterparts.
Airline websites are the top choice for booking tickets overall, with more than half of UAE professionals travelling for leisure likely to book tickets directly from airline websites. Business travelers, meanwhile, still prefer booking tickets through travel agencies.
Credit cards are more commonly used when buying big ticket items (luxury weekends, designer clothes and jewelry) and professionals indicated that trust was highest in a Visa-branded digital payment service.