A recent study found that 58 percent of UAE customers prefer purchasing groceries from retailers that provide discounts, while 92 percent actively seek out fruits and vegetables grown locally. These findings are part of the latest Oliver Wyman Customer Perception Map (CPM) survey, which monitors customer attitudes and behaviors in the grocery industry. The survey indicates that the UAE market has evolved, with consumers here showing distinct preferences compared to those in other GCC markets, presenting both challenges and opportunities for retailers.

This trend pushes UAE retailers to stand out by either offering superior value or exceptional deals, with few managing to excel in both areas to remain competitive. Dubai resident Maryam Oribela, who manages a large household, shared with Khaleej Times her strategy of shopping at supermarkets offering significant discounts. She often alternates between stores to take advantage of various promotions, enhancing her savings.

Discounts not only boost sales in physical stores but also in online markets, where sections like 'Reduced to Clear' offer heavily discounted items nearing their expiration dates. Personalization emerged as another significant opportunity in the survey, with over 70 percent of respondents expressing interest in tailored offers.

Alexander Poehl, a partner at Oliver Wyman specializing in retail and consumer goods, emphasized the importance of innovation and differentiation for supermarket chains aiming to thrive. He noted that UAE consumers are more diverse than those in Western markets, offering retailers a chance to differentiate through personalized services. Loyalty programs are crucial in this regard, with 60 percent of respondents keen on accessing additional services through them.

The survey also highlights a strong consumer preference for locally produced fruits and vegetables, supporting the government's initiatives to promote local agriculture and enhance food security. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment reports that domestic vegetable production meets over 20 percent of local demand, with cucumbers making up 80 percent of that production. The UAE hosts approximately 38,000 farms, producing around 156,000 tons of vegetables and 200,000 tons of fruits annually.