Introduction to thinkbank’s Iraq Consumer Survey 2020

Brands, consultancies and researchers seeking to understand Iraq typically find it hard to gather robust data on the country and its people. So in March 2020, just before the Covid-19 worldwide lockdown, we at thinkbank market research ran our inaugural Iraq Consumer Survey 2020. It’s first-of-its-kind research, seeking to fix this lack and scarcity of data and build solid insight into a vibrant developing market full of opportunity.

About the survey

So how did we run this ground-breaking survey? Respondents were heavily screened in order to ensure eligibility. The survey itself was conducted online in both Arabic and Kurdish, among 1,997 Iraqis aged between 18-45, with a 40:60 female to male ratio, and located in the main cities of Iraq. So, it’s a robust reflection of the online population across major conurbations.

The objective was to measure core attitudes and behaviours in relation to digital behaviour, financial inclusion, e-commerce & online shopping, FMCG, travel and food service.

The findings were genuinely fascinating – even we learned a huge amount about Iraq and the Iraqi consumer. So, we wrote everything up for you in our new whitepaper which you can read here. Or if you’re short on time the remainder of this blog post summarises the whitepaper.

We’ve also saved some further insights for you on FMCG, travel and food service in Iraq, to feature in upcoming blog posts. So, look out for them on the thinkbank Iraq blog here.

Digital behaviour & the Iraqi consumer

Thanks to our survey, we know that most Iraqi internet users are online for 5 hours+ a day, overwhelmingly preferring to use their smartphones to connect. While the internet isn’t regarded as a way to save money (because it’s expensive), it is appreciated for its ability to keep Iraqis connected with friends and family, and is the place they go to search for information and helps them make purchasing decisions. Facebook is basically synonymous with the internet and is the place Iraqis mostly go to find that information. Although Instagram is also fast gaining popularity, particularly driven by young women (Instagram also meets their need for female privacy).

Financial inclusion & the Iraqi consumer

Hardly any Iraqis have bank accounts or use financial services, and they don’t trust financial institutions – preferring the informal unregulated Hawala system. This traditional system for sending and receiving cash, based on trust and honour, resonates with Iraqis as a proven system that works and has done for a long time. Iraqis prefer to spend their cash on ‘sensible’ things to help secure their financial position in life. As well as cars – which are also considered as important symbols of reputation.

E-commerce & the Iraqi consumer

The majority of Iraqis are “shopping online”, preferring to direct message the seller and pay by cash on delivery. And they’re mostly shopping online for clothing and footwear, food delivery, and health and beauty (led by women). And electronics for men. The quality of the online shopping experience could be improved, and returns have a long way to go. Kurdistan in the north is showing signs of advanced development compared to central and southern Iraq, with more people from there shopping online for convenience and having their own internet at home. Kurdistan represents a natural starting place for any brands wishing to enter the Iraq market and push online sales.

We hope this blog post has been useful in introducing the survey and summarising the whitepaper for you. Although if you have time, we’d (obviously!) recommend reading the full paper here as it has all the further data together with additional insights on Iraq and the Iraqi consumer.

Our market research agency – thinkbank – specialises in running research in Iraq and the Middle East. We’re experts in Iraq, the Middle East, and running quality market research to international standards.

Caroline McGarrIntroduction to thinkbank’s Iraq Consumer Survey 2020
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