Report “Packaging Trends for the Modern Middle Eastern Consumer” reveals UAE consumer preferences in product packaging

Toluna, a leading consumer insights, technology, panel, and market research consultancy provider, undertook an extensive study on consumer preferences and attitudes towards product packaging. The report pinpoints what is shaping UAE consumers’ decision-making process when it comes to shopping for packaged goods.

The study, done in collaboration with MetrixLab, Toluna’s sister company, shows a prevailing inclination towards frugality, a heightened emphasis on health and well-being, and a definite commitment to sustainability. Notably, consumers in UAE have a stronger preference for minimalistic packaging ahead of customized and luxury packaging.

Consumers’ Packaging Preferences in 2024

The survey shows that in 2024, UAE consumers will continue prioritizing criteria such as good quality, healthiness, easy availability, brand reputation, and appropriate pricing while shopping. Notably, 48% prefer sustainable packaging across categories, and 36% are willing to pay a premium for that. 49% of UAE residents derive product assurance about quality and freshness from seeing the product, while 26% always prefer transparent packaging.

Impact of Packaging on Consumer Behavior

When it comes to the impact of packaging on brand trial and switching behavior, the study shows that 33% of repsondents are inclined to try new brands if the packaging is appealing, while 26% switch between new and familiar brands if their packages display similar information or benefits crucial to buyers. A significant 57% expressed the need for brands to provide better information about their products’ health and well-being implications on packaging.

Sustainability in Packaging: A Priority for UAE Consumers

Sustainability continues to be a significant concern for consumers, with 86% of UAE residents expressing the importance of brands being socially and environmentally responsible, regardless of the prevailing economic situation. The report indicates that 68% of UAE respondents emphasize the necessity for brands to commit to reducing plastic packaging, while 67% highlight the importance of brands contributing positively to the environment and society.

Health and Well-being: A Growing Focus

The backdrop of the study was given by Toluna’s Global Consumer Barometer with several factors providing the bigger picture on what matters to UAE consumers in 2024, namely, sustainability, health and well-being and the cost-of-living crisis.

The packaging survey data and the latest wave of the Barometer show a significant link between UAE residents’ commitment to well-being and their changing preferences in packaging. 71% of UAE residents prioritize their overall well-being and this heightened focus on personal health has led to notable shifts in consumer behavior with healthier lifestyles taking center-stage. This shift is evident as they increasingly opt for healthier food choices (66%), display interest in discovering new and healthier food items (61%), maintain regular engagement in physical exercise (56%), and incorporate vitamins or health supplements into their daily routines (45%). Moreover, 53% of consumers actively seek affordable solutions for health, wellness, and fitness needs. The underscore their commitment to personal health while also considering financial prudence in their preferences for packaging choices.

The Role of AI in Assessing Powerful Packaging Designs

The report provides an interesting section on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be employed to deliver impactful packaging designs, based on the meta-analysis of MetrixLab’s benchmark database. The analysis shows that there are four key drivers for impactful packaging design: shelf visibility and variant findability, design appeal and benefit and reason-to-believe communication. The AI model used by MetrixLab provides feedback on these categories – Visibility, Design, Communication – and makes clear recommendations to brands on the improvements to implement to increase the impact of the product.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Georges Akkaoui, Enterprise Account Director & Office Leader MEA at Toluna, stated: “Our latest packaging report offers great insights on the nuances of consumer behavior in the UAE regarding packaging. Brands that understand and adapt to these evolving consumer trends stand a much better chance of effectively engaging with their target audience and gaining ground”, he further emphasized the pivotal role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in assisting with packaging design:  “we  are already leveraging AI to help our clients make their products stand out on shelves and in stores. Meta-analysis, benchmarking, AI-driven analysis and recommendations will become even more instrumental in the coming months and years, allowing brands to craft packaging that resonates with consumer preferences, significantly influencing their purchasing decisions and delivering more growth to brands.”

About Toluna

Toluna is a leading consumer insights, technology, panel, and market research consultancy provider.

We own the industry’s first end-to-end, single login, real-time consumer intelligence platform, Toluna Start, which automates research and provides reliable consumer insights with speed and quality. Toluna Start can be used across market understanding (including U&A), brand health tracking, all the new product development stages and creative testing, online communities (qual focus groups), with results displayed instantly in flexible dashboards set up for deep data analysis.

  • Toluna has proprietary online panels in 90+ markets with 72 M+ highly engaged consumers.
  • Our 2,650-strong team delivers consumer and market insights to top Fortune 500 companies (i.e. Amazon, Pepsico, Stellantis, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, etc.).
  • We offer our clients the means to collect data and insights in-house, with our support and consultancy where needed, or a full-service agency-style approach with flexibility and agility to meet every research need (i.e. questionnaire design, survey programming & hosting, sampling, analysis, reporting, etc).