Rise of the Incognito
J. Walter Thompson MEA is set to release its full 10 Trends for MENA 2015 report, authored by Head of Brand Intelligence, J. Walter Thompson MEA, in September. With the release date on the horizon,
Strategic Planning Director of J. Walter Thompson Saudi Arabia looks at one of the ten trends featured in the report: Rise of The Incognito.
Since its onset, social media has played a significant role n the MENA region, not only by providing platforms for self-expression in otherwise censored markets, but also in mobilising people and points of view. However, despite the rising number of social media users in MENA, people are quickly coming to realise that much of what they do both online and offline can be uncovered by anyone who is interested. So it’s not surprising then, that in a largely conservative market, online privacy is a large source of anxiety, with 73% of online Arabs worrying that their personal information is no longer private.
Consequently, consumers are starting to exercise a bit more online reserve – they have become smarter, navigating social networks by carefully choosing what and when they share, and even creating multiple identities or projecting different online personas. With over half a million Saudis leaving Facebook last year, and nearly 100,000 in both Kuwait and Oman for example, others have gravitated towards more niche communities that they believe will give them a safer space, such as Snapchat or Tumblr.
This has also manifested itself in how people manage their online professional reputation. Nowadays companies are likely to check the profiles of new recruits online, leaving people no choice but to craft polished images across their social networks – giving them even more reasons to use niche communities- in fact 60% of respondents in the UAE state their reasons for using private online networks were to avoid judgement and because there would be fewer consequences.
Today this has generated a new curiosity for the unknown where privacy and anonymity have become the new status and by interacting in both the public and private spheres, brands can capitalise on human curiosity.