Why Saudis go for Western coffee brands
Social media has contributed to attracting a large number of new customers to coffee shops
The remarkable growth in coffee business in Saudi Arabia reflects the increasing trend of Saudis in consuming different types of coffee.
According to one report, coffee sales make an annual growth of 0.5 to 0.85 percent, which is considered moderate for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said Sami Al-Ambary, director of a coffee company.
He said the Kingdom’s vast area has played an important role in raising coffee sales. “Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of population growth, which reached 2.54 percent by the middle of this year, according to figures issued by the General Statistics Authority,” he explained.
The regional director of an international coffee brand, meanwhile, stressed the vital role being played by social media, especially Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, which have contributed to attracting a large number of new customers to coffee shops over the past four years. This has wooed a number of international coffee companies to the Kingdom.
“Saudi youth aged between 15 and 22 represent the major group of customers of various international coffee brands here,” the official told Al-Watan Arabic daily. “Ads, content and additions are some of the factors that attract this group to coffee shops.
They often learn about the brands from their friends and social media sites,” he added.
Mahara Abdul Rahman, a secondary school student, said she used to visit coffee shops at least three times a week. She loves to take Frappuccino, a Starbucks brand, which has ingredients other than coffee and is usually topped with whipped cream.
Asked why she likes the brand, Abdul Rahman said her schoolmates advised her to take it due to its extraordinary taste.
Abdul Rahman and her friends exchange photos of taking Frappuccino through Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram and this encouraged others to follow suit.
Mohammed Othman, operations manager at Bon Cafe, said Saudis of the new millennium do not like the traditional coffee without additions. The largest number of customers who love this type of coffee is in the age group of 35 and above with 80 percent of them men.
“Social changes have played a big role in increasing the number of people visiting cafes,” Othman told Al-Watan.
The foreign scholarship program that has sent nearly 200,000 Saudis to the US and other countries also contributed to growth in coffee sales in the Kingdom.
According to a Bloomberg report published last month, Americans in the age group of 19-34 prefer coffee without additions, contrary to Saudis.
The coffee consumption rate of youth in the age group of 18-24 rose from 44 to 48 percent while that of 25-39 group rose to 60 percent.
This report was first published in Saudi Gazette on Dec. 23, 2016