Master the 2023 Tech and Durables market in META



Leverage growth opportunities with an expert-led outlook and data-backed strategies for senior executives

Key markets in the META region (consisting of the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa) have shown a range of responses to the recent waves of geopolitical and socio-economic crises shaking the world. Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have been buffered, or even benefited from global changes, others, like South Africa, have struggled. 

When taking these specifics into consideration, countries in the region offer market growth opportunities for both established Tech and Durables (T&D) manufacturers and retailers, and those hoping to enter the market.


Stay ahead of the curve: spot growth opportunities first and minimize risk with data-backed insights into key consumer and market developments set to impact the region in 2023 and beyond.  

What’s influencing the META market in 2023?

A complex region with more than 1.8 billion inhabitants, characterized by wide disparities in wealth and natural resources, META has predictably shown an equally varied response to the major events rocking the world in the last few years. From the pandemic, to the war in Ukraine, and the climate crisis: each presented member countries with a mix of challenges and opportunities. For example, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine left Egypt either playing a high-stakes diplomatic game or scrambling to expand its wheat sources, as imports from Russia and Ukraine combined accounted for 72.7% of total imports in 2021. Meanwhile, though the diplomatic balance as result of the war remains delicate across the globe and region, some META countries have benefited as a result. For example, a massive influx of Russian and Ukrainian refugees have brought their skills and spending power to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market, contributing to the growth of their new country’s economy. The increased demand in the rental market has pushed many Emiratis to buy, growing the property market by +40% in H2 2022 compared to H1 2022 and cushioning property developers from recession. 

Key local developments are driving economic resilience — and while bigger markets such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE seem more attractive, smaller, more volatile markets such as Tunisia and Morocco offer valuable pockets of growth opportunities. For example, alternative trade routes have quickly been established to mitigate supply chain strategy challenges across the region sparked by international and local crises, with Iraq a growing trading hub for Syria, Iran and other countries restricted by sanctions. 

However, not all the news is good. For instance, Pakistan’s economy has slowed under political instability, an import ban and a US$6 billion IMF bailout, amidst catastrophic floods. Yet, stronger regional economies buoy the embattled ones. As a result, T&D manufacturers and retailers can operate in a region that posted the highest YoY sector growth worldwide in 2022, at +0.7%. 

Spotlight on post-pandemic South Africa

While the economy has seen steady recovery after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic passed, inflation and loadshedding have crippled consumer sentiment and prevented further growth. Uniquely, multiple challenges are impacting consumers and the market simultaneously.

However, these risks are not new and ambitious brands can find innovative ways to mitigate — or even unlock growth from — each one.

Slow economic recovery


Repercussions from the war in Ukraine, “load shedding”, natural disasters that affected critical infrastructure such as roads and ports, and cross-sector industrial action have all contributed to lowered growth expectations.  

This led to South Africa losing 5% of its GDP, with retailers losing 5% of their operating hours and spending millions of rands on sourcing alternative energy. This suggests a muted 2023, but some categories show resilience. For example, Telecom showed the strongest YoY growth, of 23%.    

Inflation and rising cost of living


Global price increases in food and fuel have driven headline inflation that creates a tough trading environment, as South African consumers find themselves cash-strapped and focused on spending on essentials.    

Home comforts have taken a back seat, as consumers invest instead in categories that enable hybrid working and entertaining at home to keep costs down, and safeguard their ability to work throughout multiple crises like social unrest and power cuts. For example, sales in coffee machines were down -28.3%, while laptop, router and PTV sales grew by +9.2%, +11.1% and +9.5% respectively for FY 2022 vs FY 2021. 

Ongoing energy crisis

National grid power cuts, or “load shedding”, is a key disruptor — increasing operating costs, with South Africa’s biggest retailer spending over ZAR3M per day on alternative electricity supply. 
Both established players and new entrants to the market have a unique opportunity to lead the way in securing sustainable, renewable energy sources that may cost more upfront but ultimately contribute to a greener economy, and an energy self-sustainable brand.

Today’s META consumer

Buoyed by a more positive mood compared the global average, META consumers are willing to spend on the brands they trust and the categories they believe they need — even when coming from more cash-strapped economies like South Africa. 


Moving towards (expanded forms of) digitalization

An extreme range of digital literacy is a key characteristic of META region consumers. While some, like Emiratis, are completely habituated to online channels and digital engagement with brands, others, like low-income South Africans are hamstrung by technology — willing to embrace online channels but limited to engaging via smartphones. 

  • Given the diversity of the region — with varying levels of digital maturity, lifestyle and income level not only across but also within countries — it’s important to understand the evolving needs and key purchase drivers of the diverse consumer segments as one size doesn’t fit all.
    Nikki Quinn
    Retail Lead, GfK South Africa
To capitalize on opportunities in 2023, brands must rethink what “digital engagement” and “omnichannel” means for every target segment in each of the countries they’re hoping to grow in. For example, changes to the laws and social regime in Saudi Arabia, embodied by government-led initiatives such as Vision2030, have boosted their goal of being the new digital headquarters in the region. This gives brands a unique opportunity to partner with Saudi government to expand their regional, and digital footprint.

Promotions are increasingly attractive

Depending on which country they’re from, META consumers have widely different expectations from promotional periods. For example, in the UAE consumers are used to near-constant promotions. Coupled with the rare buffering from the near-global cost of living crisis and high digital literacy, Emiratis have been shaped to web crawl extensively for the best deal, and can afford to wait for promotions — where they constantly buy up. Meanwhile, South African consumers are exploiting promotions and leveraging their price discounts to buy necessities such as groceries. For example, Black Friday 2022 saw a +7.5% boost in key category unit sales (compared to 2021), despite consumers avoiding big-ticket items such as expensive PTVs or overly-sophisticated appliances.

In 2023, T&D manufacturers and retailers have the opportunity to expand on promotional activity with rewards programs or similar, that bring an element of personalization into discounting. To succeed brands must be available to consumers at the times that suit them, and offer targeted rewards when they seamlessly intersect with consumer’s needs, rather than employ a “spray and pray” approach to what they offer and when.

In South Africa, for example, big brands are now giving the cash-strapped mass market extended opportunities to shop on promotion. Previously, certain promotional periods were typically leveraged by specific categories, such as Easter focusing on FMCG confectionery. Now multiple, categories, including Tech and Durables take advantage of Easter and other promotional periods throughout the year to maximize their sales in the slow economy.

Sustainability is on the rise

While awareness has grown over the last 3 years, especially within GenZ Middle Eastern consumers, sustainability does not feature significantly yet on the list of consumer priorities anywhere in the region. However, this counters the global trend of increasing concern with green issues, where, for example, 71% of consumers in 2022 agreed with the statement that “climate change is an extremely serious issue” (up +2 points from 2021) (Source: GfK 2022 Consumer Life Global Green Gauge® Report).  

This indicates that META’s growing awareness is the start of something greater: giving brands the opportunity to establish themselves as sustainability trailblazers. 

While more affluent segments in South Africa may alter their purchasing behavior to shop more sustainably, the majority of the population must choose products offering the best value for money — whether it’s sustainable or not, and regardless of their environmental concerns. According to 2022 GfK Consumer Life data, South Africans are also notably more likely to feel the government should address environmental problems instead of individuals, compared to global consumers.   

Meanwhile, MENA consumers orient differently to the concept of sustainability altogether. The region includes seven of the top ten most water stressed nations on Earth, and a 2021 Arab Barometer survey shares that water scarcity and its sustainable use dominates the hearts and minds of its consumers — with 70% of respondents citing water pollution as a very serious concern, compared to 38% saying the same about climate change.  

  • Looking to the future, brands have the opportunity to nurture and grow the region’s nascent eco-segments to their advantage. For example, tailoring sustainability campaigns with messaging that foregrounds how companies and their products contribute to water sustainability will perform better than general climate change messaging in MENA. Meanwhile, except for an extreme minority of highly affluent consumers, South Africans would favor brands that communicates any cost-saving advantage incidental to a product or feature’s sustainability benefits.
    Rahul Dixit
    Head of Marketing & Consumer Intelligence, GfK MENAP
Leading the charge with authentic positioning that offers proof of sustainable business practices, and product ranges that enable consumers to live sustainably (at a range of price points) will best position brands to capitalize on the growing trend when it reaches critical mass. And the change has already begun, for example, Saudi Arabia just launched its first local Electric Vehicle brand, and with brand’s opportunity to leverage strategic partnerships through their Vision 2030 initiative for a significant signal boost. 

Extreme differences in spending power

Brands hoping to win the purchase of META consumers in 2023 have to cater to segments characterized by extreme differences in spending power, sometimes within the same country.  

Consumers are spending more in the UAE and Saudi Arabia than anywhere else in the region. In South Africa, brands have the unique challenge of catering to two countries that share the same geography: with High Net Worth (HNW) consumers living alongside a poorer majority who nevertheless also favor aspirational purchases and are fiercely brand loyal. Here, GenZ are increasingly polarized between consumers who are aware that they are in a minority with access to social and economic privileges their peers have been denied, and those who are acutely aware that they do not have the same luck.  

Successful brands will craft campaigns and messaging with a laser-sharp focus, knowing which shopper profiles they’re targeting beforehand. Further, with the cost-of-living crisis affecting the majority of regional consumers, companies who manage a portfolio of brands that address a range of consumer needs and pockets (rather than focusing exclusively on Premium) stand the best chance of long-term success — inspiring loyalty as aspirational consumers move up price segments over time. 

Key disruptors and opportunities in Tech and Durables

Despite the global T&D market posting negative YoY growth in Q4 2022 (-14%), META grew +0.7%, with a T&D sales value of US$54 billion. Alongside LATAM, it was an exception to the deceleration rule.  

Whether an established player or a new category- or market entrant, T&D manufacturers and retailers moving into 2023 and beyond can maximize growth by leveraging these key opportunities and turning disruptions to their advantage.  

  • Social and mobile commerce are two of the biggest trends in the retail industry — and they're booming. From selling on Instagram to launching an online store, both brands and retailers are intensively experimenting in multiple ways of meeting the evolving needs of customers.
    According to the Research and Markets, the social commerce industry in Africa & Middle East is expected to grow by 39.5% on annual basis to reach US$9638.6 million in 2023. The social commerce industry is expected to grow steadily over the forecast period, recording a CAGR of 27.1% during 2022-2028.
    Navneet Chawnani
    Head of gfkconsult MENA Region

Futureproofing channel mix

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated online shopping adoption across the region. In countries with an established online profile, the pandemic instead shifted consumer behavior within the online space — the UAE, for example, showed a marked shift towards premiumization in online purchases with 92% YoY growth in premium online purchases, 2019 vs 2020/2021.

  While the major growth by online channels achieved during the pandemic’s major restrictions have stabilized, and the traditional market has regained its presence, online channels have kept the attention of their new customers. Saudi Arabia, for example, has amplified and further entrenched the shift with their Vision2030 project. 

Further, consumers’ offline consumption preferences have shifted from traditional retail stores to more modern megastores in key markets, including Egypt — expanding opportunities for global brands in the brick-and-mortar space.  


As a result, omnichannel strategies are a must across META. Futureproofed brands will offer a range of touchpoints that seamlessly transition between online and offline experiences — providing equally convenient, engaging experiences to affluent consumer segments with full phygital mobility, and those whose use of online channels are still hamstrung by a lack of national infrastructure or personal buying power. 

Brands can leverage trust to expand their digital footprint, and maintain it by offering well considered pricing and product mixes across online and offline channels. While the perception of online as a discount channel threatens revenue cannibalization and profitability drain, an online presence is essential.  

Targeting, and building trust with, the whole consumer spectrum

GfK POS data shows bookended T&D development in the Middle East, with premium (+10.7%) and bottom category (+4.8%) segments both growing YoY. Amongst South African consumers, premium price points contributed to a +10% YoY growth in Cooling sales in 2022 — proving that those who can afford it will spend, and those buying up will invest if they have sufficient trust in the brand. 

  • While 2022 proved successful for premiumization strategies, the pool of customers able to afford high-end T&D products are even more constrained in South Africa in 2023 compared to last year. Therefore, it’s even more critical that premiumization strategies be underpinned in tangible value.
    Nicole Smith
    Market Intelligence Lead, GfK ZA

Within premium strategies tailored to meet the unique demands of each market and consumer segment, brands have an opportunity to appeal to consumers with the existing spending power, while nurturing the aspirations of those who don’t to secure their future purchase. 

Manufacturers with a brand portfolio who cater to premium, mid- and low-income segments, and consumers at every stage of digital maturity stand the most chance of long-term success. However, that needn’t stop new entrants from first landing in the market or new categories with a more limited scope. 

Brands who succeed will first deeply understand consumer demand and fit to identify what must be stocked first and where, and place it in the context of the longer-term product mix and price points to match a range of consumer spend potential.  

Strengthening manufacturer-retailer-distributor relationships

To mitigate the risk of threats such as supply chain disruptions, new brands must inform their distribution strategies with a granular understanding distribution and retail dynamics in the target country/category.  

Brands who stand to win big are those who invest in, and think laterally about retailer-distributor partnerships — and ensure consumers can receive their products reliably under every circumstance, no matter where they are. For example, in South Africa, some retailers are stepping into the logistics gap and functioning as third-party courier networks to support last-mile distribution. Meanwhile, new entrants to the Middle East have the opportunity to upend the status quo, where no significant direct relationship exists between brands and marketplaces, and individual buyers currently import goods to sell to consumers via online marketplaces. 

Leveraging highly personalized strategies in a diverse region

Understanding the micro-economics of the target country and/or category is critical to ensuring expansions are legally compliant, and socially en pointe. A deep understanding of everything from trade dynamics, consumer culture, and legislation (for example, around the ease of opening a business) will set market entry up to succeed.   

The onus is on brands to know their consumer, down to the finest, everchanging, nuance. For example, with new permissions to drive, study, travel and work legally without as strict a need for a male guardian’s approval, women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia has progressed in recent years.  

Saudi women can now exercise a series of human rights and freedoms that are revolutionary in the kingdom. This empowers more women to lead decisions around which brands and products to purchase for their household, and transact unsupervised. This has broader, exciting implications for T&D manufacturers and retailers hoping to grow in the market, necessitating a rethink of everything from brand-building to promotions strategy and messaging, to embrace women’s growing power to decide which products they want for themselves and their families. But these strategies and messaging may fall flat outside of the kingdom, where many META women are able to take these rights and freedoms for granted.

Expert insights and strategic direction to master META T&D market

Watch these expert videos and uncover the expected consumer and sales trends in META region for 2023 and beyond, know which strategies are crucial for success as a new market entrant or established regional player. Our experts share their data-backed insights on the region’s economic outlook, and how you can maximize your success in context.    

The MENA market is as diverse as its consumers. While some areas continue to face strong economic pressures, others are growing and investing in technical consumer goods. Understanding each market within the MENA region is crucial, and catering to low-cost, premium and omnichannel consumers will be critical to success.

South African businesses have shown remarkable resilience in the face of a tough global economy exacerbated by local challenges such as daily power outages. Understanding the diversity of the South African consumer, their characteristics, evolving needs, and behavioral drivers, will help brands tailor their products for success in this region.

While MENA region has seen a steady recovery, it continues to face constant disruptions, like accelerated inflation and exchange rate volatility. However, there are steps that retailers and manufacturers can take to achieve success in the region: repositioning themselves to increase relevance to customers, utilizing hyper-personalization and using social and media commerce.

META offers a positive consumer outlook: consumers are willing to spend more on the brands they trust and are looking to indulge and pamper themselves on regular basis. There is large potential in the experience space, as well as opportunity for the brands and retailers in the region to revamp they loyalty and rewards schemes.


Your META 2023 T&D success checklist

Critical action points for T&D manufacturers and retailers looking to succeed in the META region for 2023 and beyond. 

Shape the future of the green economy

Become a thought leader in sustainability, capturing and nurturing the green consciousness our data shows is on the rise — in some countries, with governmental support. Brands that incorporate regionally-specific messaging into their campaigns boost their chances of initially capturing audience attention — forming a strong foundation for segment development and growth. For example, by foregrounding how their products and processes contribute to water sustainability in MENA or pass on cost-saving benefits to South Africans without compromising on environmental concerns.  

Innovate with omnichannel to deliver outstanding experiences

Like their global counterparts, META consumers demand low/no friction experiences from their brands, equating to seamless transitions between offline and online experiences. But with digital maturity and appetite differing drastically across market and in some cases, segments, brands must invest in highly localized omnichannel strategies that push the boundaries of phygital journeys as they exist within that context.  

Brands that thoroughly comprehend the evolving needs and primary purchase drivers of their target segments within this diverse landscape are best positioned to create omnichannel journeys that are not only accessible but also irresistibly appealing to their intended audience. 

Build a resilient partner network

Strengthening the relationship between manufacturers, retailers and distributors builds supply chain resilience against local and global disruptions, building trust with consumers who know they can rely on their favored brands — even during times of crisis. 

Ambitious brands can expand on this foundation — leveraging partnerships to pioneer attention-grabbing product-, service- and/or logistics solutions that capture white space or solve key consumer challenges unique to their target markets and segments. In South Africa, for example, some retailers are stepping into the logistics gap and functioning as third-party courier networks to support last-mile distribution, building consumer loyalty along the way. 

Get localized expertise with a global perspective

At GfK, our strategic business consulting team draws on GfK’s pool of first-party data insights and AI-powered analytics to help senior business leaders craft winning market, brand, and consumer strategies. From identifying gaps in the market, to prioritizing which segments, categories or countries would spark growth, or ensuring messaging and product mix hit the cultural mark, our experts can help strategize your big idea. 

Get in touch and see how we can help identify opportunities, solve business challenges, and rapidly deliver measurable impact.  

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