Regional Strategy Director of Leo Burnett KSA, talks about the challenges Saudi young workforce will be facing and the obstacles women need to overcome.
Saudi is on its way to become the most digitally engaged society in the world…
Saudi has gone through major cultural shifts and during such shifts people are developing new sets of dreams, aspirations, goals, anxieties, worries etc. It is in the pursuit of filling the gap between how the people of the Kingdom are living their lives today and how they ought to is where brands can identify their human purpose. Two segments often come to mind when thinking about these new sets of dreams and aspirations: Saudi youth and Saudi women.
The new generation of Saudis makes up the majority of the population, as 51% of the Kingdom’s population is below the age of 25. These youth have been highly urbanised (in most cases they are the first urbanised generation in their families), and have been highly exposed to the outside world. Saudi is on its way to become the most digitally engaged society in the world with the highest per capita consumption on Youtube, the highest Twitter penetration and the third highest smartphone globally. They have grown up with the mindset that they belong to one of the richest countries in the world, where wealth and fortunes are awaiting them, only to realise that, in reality, what is waiting for them is the struggle to find a job (five million young Saudis are expected to enter the job market between now and 2030, most of them are going to have to make it on their own).
So, in brief, here is a generation that makes up the majority of the population, which has been exposed to all of the possibilities out there and is full of passion to explore and to live life to the fullest. KSA is filled with individuals who are confident (and sometimes overconfident) of their potentials and who are eager to achieve what they feel their country ought to offer them. Yet, they grow up only to face one limitation after the other.
Another segment is the relatively newly empowered Saudi women. While they make around 43% of the total population, throughout their past they have faced a long list of limitations, and today, they have simply had enough. They understand that – due to the fact that they are segregated from men, not able to legally drive, require a male guardian to go out, and have to dress according to a certain code – their status in Saudi Arabia might give people the perception that they are suppressed and inactive. Quite the contrary, they are frustrated with these perceptions; they believe that many of them are highly educated, intelligent, and successful working women who are growingly playing more prominent roles in their society. However, the society, along with marketers, do not seem to want to perceive them this way. According to a prominent Saudi journalist, “We –Saudi women- are managers of multi-billion dollar companies, world-renowned scientists, university deans, bank CEOS, deputy ministers, as well as the director of the UN Population Fund. We are gaining ground every day. Like other women around the world, achieving independence is an ongoing struggle for us, and one that deserves to be recognised in the media and elsewhere.”
Now for a brand aiming to play the abovementioned relevant and meaningful role, the list of how it can affect these two segments and truly influence their lives for the better is really endless. This is in fact a period that brings a great amount of opportunities for brands in the Saudi market. Organisations only need to have the right mindset and anchor all their activities by a human purpose, in the very same manner that most successful global brands have done.