UAE retailers look to Gen Z for increasing Valentine’s Day sales


UAE retailers are weighing in on how they can reach out to younger audiences, especially Millennials and Gen Z for increasing Valentine’s Day sales.

Speaking to ME Retail News, they said the focus was growing toward younger consumers, who are driving online sales. Millennials and Generation Z are the focus of these brands, who are more and more gearing toward innovative shopping trends.

Pew Research defines Gen Z as those born between the years of 1997 and 2012, the oldest of whom will be in their early twenties. Meanwhile, Millennials have been defined as those who are currently between the ages of 23 and 38.

Basma Chaieri is the founder of Etika Jewels, which is a sustainable jewellery brand.

Ms Chaieri said that people in the UAE prefer online [portals] for flexibility, convenience, and variety in shopping for products.

She added, “Gen Z are leading the way to more efficient online shopping, looking for more payment options, meaningful online content, and a seamless e-commerce experience with a highly responsive service.”

As such, the company is addressing this need by optimising its logistics to increase online sales, apart from creating relatable online content and producing the right visuals.

“Young people do not want to overspend time and money on shopping. They compare products and prices, which they can do fast online. Our mission is to show them what product they are actually investing in through detailed descriptions, informative content, online communication, and realistic images.”

“E-commerce in the UAE is expected to rise by 7.7 per cent in 2023, according to an study, so we are working hard to stay ahead of the curve with the help of technology. Our way to be part of this e-commerce boom is through the right product, the perfect timing, and impeccable online service.”

Meanwhile, young people are also becoming more environmentally conscious, so sustainability needs to be built into marketing products, added Ms Chaieri.

Ankiet Gulabani, social media marketing manager at Spinneys said that “Traditional social media marketing doesn’t work when targeting Gen Z. We use our TikTok channel to reach our Gen Z consumers.”

“Humour is important on TikTok to connect with Gen Z,” he said, adding that “highlighting our special ‘Valentine’s Beef Love Sausage’ that gets our customers laughing each year that we bring it out.”

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Shaikh, chief retail officer for clothing company Redtag said that the company is catering to younger consumers with an evolving social media strategy.

“Outreach efforts can be as formal as engaging on interactive social-media platforms and as offbeat as participating in meme fests.”

The company is also organising a social-media repertoire for young people for Valentine’s Day, with a campaign titled ‘With Love’. Orchestrated across Redtag’s digital landscape, the campaign will showcase its red-coloured merchandise.

Mr Shaikh added that in order to stay relevant with Gen Z, the company has added TikTok to its social media campaign apart from traditional sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“There is also an emphasis on emerging avenues such as TikTok, gaming communities, and messaging apps, which are popular among young populations in the region,” said Mr Shaikh.

On TikTok, the company has uploaded videos for its red-themed Valentine’s Day campaign as well.

Brands for Less CEO and co-founder Toufic Kreidieh weighed in, and added that “Instagram, are the most effective means of reaching this demographic. Engagement is key and incorporating visually appealing and relevant short videos, images and memes related to our brand can greatly enhance our connection with the Gen Z.”

CEO of luxury gifting platform Box Vox said that “the UAE is home to a young, tech savvy population that is likely to embrace online shopping, making e-commerce a potentially lucrative channel for gifting companies.”

Meanwhile, founder of beauty brand Liht Organics Nerissa Low said, “Consumers, especially Gen Z, are looking towards more immersive and experimental platforms over traditional mediums.”

As such, the company had launched a VR stall in the Mall of the Emirates where consumers could test products without actually applying them.

Ms Low added that beauty sales tend to spike around Valentine’s Day, so reaching out to young people during the holiday is essential.

Somaiah Al Dabbagh, founder of online luxury women’s activewear company Maeya said that, “we are also working with a number of key influencers in the fitness and lifestyle spaces to help us reach our target audience.”

“These influencers help us to tap into highly engaged communities, which can be particularly valuable when it comes to reaching younger customers who are more likely to trust the recommendations of their peers.”

Gen Z is also forcing retailers to change their communication tactics.

Online gifting platform Flowwow’s Slava Bogdan, its CEO, and co-founder said that with Millennials and Gen Z driving their Valentine’s Day sales, it has become imperative for them to respond to their customers appropriately.

“Gen Z also prefers communication to be online at its core without monotonous phone calls. Hence, we have to provide immediate real-time responses from customer service in the chat in case of any difficulties.

We’re also available across social media platforms, review platforms, and in-app support chat that maximises customer feedback.”

Jo Black, commercial manager at Spinneys said that “we tend to see the highest sales uplifts from the 12th February onwards, across typical categories of confectionary, bakery, floristry, and gifting. With Valentine’s Day falling midweek this year, we can predict to see strong sales of Valentine’s items straight through to the following weekend.”

Finally, Mr Bogdan said that Valentine’s Day is one of Flowwow’s peak days when “our sales, as well as volume of orders, increase by twofold.”

Mr Kreidieh concluded, “consequently, e-commerce sales in the UAE and other nations are expected to see a notable increase during this holiday season. It is prudent to keep these trends in mind, as several variables such as economic conditions, consumer behaviour and cultural beliefs may influence sales during these key gifting moments.”