Luxury Brand Insights 2024 – Winning with Middle East Consumers in the UK

Published 02 / 15 / 2024

Luxury Brand Insights 2024 – Winning with Middle East Consumers in the UK

London is a popular travel destination for visitors from the Persian Gulf, particularly from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Affection for the Capital offers UK-based luxury brands an opportunity to build rapport with the affluent Arab buyer segment from this part of our world.

As with all regions, consumers from the Gulf have distinct cultural preferences. Marketers can create more meaningful connections by understanding regional nuances as well as key occasions that play an important role in their daily lives.

Well-considered insights can inspire activations of everything from tailored brand experiences across live and digital channels to culturally sensitive product offerings. From this position, a luxury brand in the UK can position itself for an inclusive and lasting relationship with this key customer segment.

Understanding the Middle East Arab Consumer

Meaningful engagement starts with insights into the demographic’s motivations as shoppers, such as how and why they purchase. A multi-faceted target, this desirable consumer group includes those who have become residents in the UK as well as tourists who visit London regularly for pleasure and shopping. Many visitors remain longer during key periods. For example, the holy month of Ramadan is a popular time for an extended stay in London where the climate is milder than in the Middle East.

While individual tastes vary, it is worth noting preferences unique to other consumer groups. There will always be exceptions, but this article aims to spotlight influences that can help businesses attract genuine brand advocates.

When building community, luxury brands should be mindful of cultural priorities and the influence of belief systems. For example, religious celebrations can be recognised with special products or discounts. Another example is the opportunity for luxury brands to curate elevated, stylish fashion for women who choose to dress modestly.

Shopping is highly social for this brand-savvy segment. Gradual browsing and chatting about purchases is part of the pleasure. With this market, the influence of friends, family and word-of-mouth carries weight in brand choice. It’s worth thinking differently about how relationship factors drive market penetration.

Historically, this segment shopped locally and in person from known proprietors. The shift to digital during Covid means shoppers now more commonly shop online. However, personal experience is still important. Great product imagery goes a long way, as well as information and live customer support in Arabic. An easy return policy can further strengthen trust and loyalty.

Expert Tips and Activation Examples

London-based Gabrielle Shaw Communications (GSC) is an agency that specialises in cross-market entry. This includes bringing UK products into international markets or penetrating a new sector within the UK.

Agency Founder Gabrielle Shaw recommends reaching out to Gulf consumers in their own country as well as in the UK. She notes they often prefer to buy luxury products in the market of origin, or from flagship venues in London. Shaw explains that shopping in-market can provide these consumers with a wider product selection and a more holistic experience of brand provenance.

“To fully connect with the purchase journey, begin with a presence in Persian Gulf media and social media platforms. Then continue via touchpoints such as inflight media during travel,” says Shaw. “Once shoppers are present in the UK, advance to bespoke services and experiences that make these customers feel catered for and included.”

Following are some strategies for luxury brands to foster community, market to UK consumers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Arab regions.

  1. Special Events and Promotions: Host events or promotions during key periods or celebrations. This can attract shoppers and make them feel valued.
  • Ramadan: This holy month is an excellent opportunity for luxury brands to connect through special collections, promotions, and events.
  • Eid: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are two major celebrations in the Islamic calendar. Luxury brands can create limited-edition products or collections specifically for Eid and offer special discounts or gifts during this period.

Ladurée , Ramadan, Luxury

GSC worked with its client Ladurée to build brand fame for a special Ramadan gift box of its famous Macarons. The campaign started with in-country organic influencer seeding and continued across various successful UK activations. Look here for more on this project.


  1. Adapt Product Offerings: Include options for a modest fashion look and packaging suited to the audience. Note that different colours can carry meaning and symbolism. Be mindful of appropriate sizing. Importantly, Gulf consumers are increasingly socially conscious in their shopping – around everything from sustainability and well-being to brand purpose and social responsibility.

Luxury Fashion, Modist, Bicester Village

GSC worked with client Bicester Village, a discounted designer retail shopping destination, to pop up a Dubai based e-commerce retailer’s first global online destination for luxury modest fashion. See more here.


  1. Exclusive Shopping Experiences: Middle Eastern consumers often value exclusivity. Offer VIP shopping experiences, private viewings, curated collections, and personalised services to cater to preferences.

Corinthia Hotels, Luxury Hotel, London Selfridges, Luxury Fashion, Department Store,

Two of GSC’s favourite clients, Selfridge Department Store and the stunning five-star hotel Corinthia London, partnered to offer a “Shop, Stay & Play in London” package combining a stay at Corinthia’s luxury penthouse with exclusive shopping at ‘the world’s best department store”. More on this here.


  1. Stay Updated with Trends: Keep abreast of the latest fashion and luxury trends in-home countries. Adapt product offerings and marketing strategies accordingly. Keep in mind that well over half of the Gulf Arab population is aged under 30, although older family members commonly control spending.


  1. Familiarity with Luxury Brands: Middle Eastern consumers are often well-informed about luxury brands. Ensure staff is knowledgeable about product offerings and can provide information about brand heritage and craftsmanship.


  1. Digital Marketing: This segment is becoming digital-first. Use online platforms and social media channels popular among Arab communities in the UK. Also, consider a presence in social channels within the targeted countries to reach shoppers before they travel.


  1. Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with in-country influencers who have a following in London or the UK. These endorsements can help promote luxury products to a target audience that is highly inspired by recommendations.


  1. Multilingual Staff and Materials: Invest in employees who speak Arabic or other relevant languages to assist customers effectively. Ensure that promotional materials, signage, and website content are available in multiple languages.


  1. Cultural Sensitivity Training: Ensure that relevant employees from salespeople to marketeers are culturally aware and knowledgeable about Arab customs and traditions. This can enhance the shopping experience for Middle Eastern customers and ensure events and materials are appropriate.


  1. Payment Options: Be flexible with ways to pay. Investigate accepting popular payment methods from home countries, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, in addition to traditional credit cards.


  1. After-Sales Support: Provide excellent after-sales support, including efficient customer service, product maintenance, and repair services. Building a long-term relationship with customers can lead to repeat business and referrals.

By combining cultural sensitivity with a commitment to delivering exceptional products and services, luxury brands sold in the UK can successfully attract and retain Gulf Arab and other Middle Eastern shoppers in London, building a loyal customer base for luxury brands.


About the Author 

Gabrielle Shaw Communications offers expertise in navigating brand purpose, PR, helping brands craft authentic narratives, engaging stakeholders effectively, and achieving measurable results. The agency has been helping brands and businesses successfully enter new markets for decades. GSC’s proprietary Brand Desire framework creates a roadmap to begin or enhance building brand reputation.

GSC works across sectors such as luxury, beauty, fashion, retail, travel, interiors, wellbeing and many more. Interested in learning more about how GSC can help your business? The team at Gabrielle Shaw Communications would love to chat. Get in touch.

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