According to JWT MENA’s report on trends for 2014 and beyond, consumers are seeking more daring and unscripted experiences.

In a region where extremist doctrines are giving rise to social struggles, growing numbers of young Arabs are Truncating Taboos through an alternative sociocultural revolution that questions—and at times eliminates—norms and practices that Middle Eastern/North African societies have held dear for centuries. According to JWT MENA’s report on trends for 2014 and beyond, this means that consumers are seeking more daring and unscripted experiences; the gap between this and the sanitized world of political correctness has never been larger, with 72 percent of MENA adults polled saying they would purchase brands that “dare to be different.”

The report also highlights how Crowd Hacktivists, harnessing young Arabs’ creativity, digital skills and “wevolution” mindset, are creating an entirely new form of activism that addresses the civic and social challenges of modern society that governments are failing to address. DIY-minded Millennials are creating startups that work around roadblocks, with the power of “yalla”—Arabic slang for “Let’s just do it”—mirroring their deep-rooted desire to change the status quo toward more self-sustainable futures.

Many people placed high hopes on 2013 being the year that much-desired changes would come about in the region. With the revelation that this didn’t and won’t happen via official bodies and institutions, many Arabs are making 2014 the year they take those changes into their own hands and create the world they need to live in. Their continuous connectivity and intent to live better for longer is driving them to address our transitional times and no longer endure unmet social needs. 

In line with these developments, the report highlights how a passion for authenticity and mistrust of institutions have given rise to engagement with projects at the predevelopment stage. One of the biggest draws of this development, dubbed (Pre)Purchased, is the ability for consumers to buy only into what they really need. In a market where 64 percent of young Arabs claim they would put their trust in consumers rather than institutions because consumers have no hidden agenda, globally crowdfunded Arab projects are on the rise. With customers yearning to participate in product creation, now is the time for marketers to look at how they can redefine brand experiences.

Other trends the report outlines include Hello I’m an Expert, “Faux”stalgia and Fabulously Flawed, where super-niche interests and a craving for the commemorative see the Millennial mindset shifting from optimism to realism.

JWT MENA’s “10 Trends for 2014” is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWT Brand Intelligence in MENA throughout the year. For this report, quantitative surveys using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, were conducted in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Morocco and Lebanon in November 2013. The report includes input from JWT’s regional planning community and interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including academia, health and fitness, media and technology.

For more on the motivations and driving forces behind these behavioral shifts and what they mean for brands, download JWT MENA’s “10 Trends for 2014” report at www.jwtmea.com/trends2014.