The new reality of consumer behaviors that will define telco services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Published: 13 August 2020 - midnight

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown have significantly impacted telco consumers' behavior in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). A new study conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) highlights the key trends that are expected to continue or amplify beyond the current crisis. The study, which was conducted in 13 leading digital nations surveyed consumer actions and perception of telco services in light of the current crisis.

"A major increase in usage of telco services was expected in times where digital platforms became paramount to enable work from home, access media content, and stay connected with friends and family," said Thibault Werle, Managing Director and Partner, BCG. "We found that consumption in KSA increased the most for video conferencing, lifestyle content, and online music usage at 63 per cent, 32 per cent, and 28 per cent, respectively. To put that in perspective, that is 8, 6, and 12 per centage points higher respectively than the countries we surveyed."

Overall, 53 per cent of respondents in KSA expect the behavior changes to last beyond the lockdown – which aligns with the survey average of 50 per cent.

KSA consumers expressed their satisfaction with the quality and reliability of telco services since the outbreak. Citizens have had mostly stable FFB connectivity during the lockdown, aligned with other surveyed countries. Only 5 per cent reported severe problems of connectivity issues, which aligns with the average of leading digital nations surveyed.

"We have witnessed the emergence of evolving ICT consumer behaviors in the Kingdom, particularly with regards to time spent video conferencing, and demand for digital channels," said Rachid El Ameri, Principal, BCG. "Although some will subside, others will be fundamental and change the way customers behave in the long-term."

Based on consumer trends identified in the study, BCG recommends four action points for KSA telcos and sectoral decision-makers to address the behavioral changes:

  • Improve digital channels experience: A strong consumer preference for digital channels for sales and support services has emerged, and telcos must focus on providing seamless digital channel experience.
  • Clearly articulate brand value proposition: The perceived importance of telco services is expected to increase post-crisis in comparison to pre-crisis. KSA telcos should focus on the continued delivery of strong services to consumers to emphasize the brand's value proposition and also to enhance perception and value for money to drive consumer decisions.
  • Maintain emphasis on telcos to improve service quality: KSA should build on the positive experience delivered through stable connectivity to its consumers, and continue rolling out state-of-the-art infrastructure and improve the reliability of services.
  • Ensure affordable pricing for products and services: Given the economic pressures and anticipated decrease in overall standards of living due to the circumstances of the pandemic, decision-makers must ensure that telcos and service providers maintain affordable pricing.

"Recent events have resulted in an underlying need for KSA telcos and decision-makers to lead the new reality," said Thibault Werle, Managing Director and Partner, BCG. "Doing so has never been as important, and they are fully capable of delivering greater value, enhancing consumer experiences, and ensuring the Kingdom's telco industry can succeed post-crisis."

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