How influencer marketing can affect the e-commerce industry in MENA?

  • Abdulrahman Hassaan
  • October 9, 2019

“A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” (Gensler, Völckner, Liu-Thompkins & Wiertz, 2013)

Accordingly, a good definition of influencer marketing is; using someone who enjoys two main characteristics; influence and popularity, in order to reach their audience via content-driven marketing campaigns. Such campaigns result in awareness, increased perception, and action. 

Choosing the right influencer for your product will grant you the following: 

– More affordable, yet effective, an option of celebrities

– Contextual credibility and reach

– Social positioning for your product

– Authority and brand awareness 

– Customers’ trust

– Higher return on investment (ROI)

Rise of influencer marketing in MENA

Worldwide statistics show that there are almost 3 billion internet users globally in 2018, of which, 1.7 billion have active social media accounts and the majority of them are the millennials. 

Thanks to greater internet accessibility and smartphone connectivity; it became easier for everyone to be present on the internet.
The GCC area isn’t an exception from this huge digital evolution. Consumers are urging the gulf area to impose a huge change in strategy regarding digital media, thanks to the growth of the population under 30 years old. 

The GCC Millennials are all hyper-connected and care about experiences more than brands. They are tech-savvy, well educated, assertive, and are willing to spend, which makes them a huge purchasing power.

The best way to deal with this kind of customer is by adopting a customer-centric approach. Such an approach is easily achieved through influencer marketing according to these interesting insights:

– Consumers nowadays prefer social media influencers as their preferred source of information and recommendations.

– Video content is the new high-end material.

– 71% of UAE residents aged between 18 and  40 are happy to take advice from online personalities.

– Watch time of KSA beauty and fashion channels grew by 50% in 2015, and that’s why Saudi Arabia is the top YouTube nation in the world.

The GCC has some of the mega bloggers, especially in the health & beauty industry. Here is a list of a few very familiar names: Huda Kattan (18.4M followers), Joelle Mardinian (5.7M followers), Lojain Omran (5.1M followers), and Noha Nabil (4.4M followers).

Which platform works better for the GCC area? Instagram or Snapchat?


In 2018; global spending on Instagram influencer marketing reached $5.67 billion and will further grow to reach $8.08 billion by the end of 2020.

There were 21.7 million brand-sponsored influencer posts on the social platform. The volume of sponsored content is projected to amount to 32.3 million posts in 2019.

The top three popular interests are:
1. Fashion (25%)

2. Food (12%)

3. Entertainment (11%)

This explains why fashion brands are the most active on Instagram when it comes to investing in influencer marketing.

How will Instagram benefit your E-commerce business?
If you are still wondering whether it’s beneficial for your business or not, then you should note the following:

We can add a line or two before the points. 

  1. It is great for reaching younger audiences (more than 90% of Instagram users are under 35). 
  2. It helps grow your follower-base and brand awareness.
  3. Deliver real-time content via Instagram stories, which are continuously gaining more popularity.


The benefit of using Snapchat is that 80% of its audience are shoppers. Such an insight highlights why the platform stands out in comparison to other platforms. 

What is the best practice on Snapchat for your E-Commerce brand? 

Snapchat is a great platform to reach a younger audience or just to increase the exposure of your e-commerce brand.

81% Of users are between 13 and 24 years old.

In 2017 Snapchat spent $10.9 million on advertising, up from $9.4 million in advertisement spending in the preceding year.

The number of Internet users in Saudi Arabia rose swiftly to reach 30 million people by the beginning of 2018, 9 million of them are active users on Snapchat.

Based on the following facts, Snapchat is considered a primary platform for marketers to reach the youth and increase their brands’ exposure. 

  • Snapchat has a majority of millennials and female users in the UAE, exceeding Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 
  • 80% of SnapChat users are online shoppers
  • 81% of users are between the age of (13-24)
  • In Saudi Arabia,  there are 30 million internet users, 9 million of them are on Snapchat.

What is the best practice of influencer marketing and how to choose the most suitable influencer for your business?

You shouldn’t just hire any influencer to do your job, you need to remember some points to select the most fit one:

  1. Prepare a list of your potential influencers.
  2. Measure their audience’s engagement with their content
  3. Eliminate influencers who only publish sponsored content as their pages look like billboards, and they often lack interactions or credibility
  4. Choose influencers who have at least 10K followers, especially on Instagram. Micro-influencers with fewer than 100k followers leverage so much power on social media
  5. As an e-commerce brand, you need to carefully select Micro-Influencers that match your brand identity and tone. So, they can get the best results and the right audience.
  6. 2019 will be the year of sponsored live videos.  They’re powerful, effective, and let the audience feel that they’re experiencing the story themselves.
  7. Authenticity is crucial,  users are becoming more intelligent and Ad-savvy. 
  8. Influencer campaigns and content that lack authenticity will only damage your brand’s image.

Forecasts for 2020?

The only one form of marketing that has ever been consistently successful is word-of-mouth recommendations from one’s surrounding. 92% of consumers around the world trust word-of-mouth.

Over the past decade, influencer marketing evolved because it effectively fills the need.

The journey that buyers go through has four phases; awareness, interest, decision, and action. Many business owners believe that influencer marketing is an awareness step, which really makes sense. However, in reality, influencer marketing can be used effectively at any and every phase of this buyer journey.

Measuring the impact of influencer marketing

With different goals for your marketing campaign, not all metrics are helpful all the time. You need to clearly set your campaign goals whether it’s brand awareness, brand engagement, social media growth, or sales to choose the right metric to indicate your campaign’s success. 

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