Pepsi and KFC top menu for UAE teens

Brand savvy Emirati teens spend four times as much pocket money on consumer brands each week than the global average for their adolescent peers.

People walks beside a KFC sculpture at The Walk in JBR. Jaime Puebla / The National
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Sweet-toothed and hungry for deep-fried chicken, Emirati teens have voted KFC and Pepsi their favourite consumer brands.

The two American food heavyweights came out on top among UAE national teenagers as part of a wider survey of 2,000 adolescents around the region.

"KFC and Pepsi were the most strong brands, as well as Nokia, Galaxy and adidas," said Gagan Bhalla, the chief executive of AMRB, the market research company behind the survey.

"International brands are very popular in the UAE."

In a survey of 800 Saudi teens, 800 Egyptian teens and 400 Emiratis, adidas came out as the most popular sports shoe brand, followed by Nike. In the UAE, adidas was also top, followed by Aldo. KFC was voted the favourite fast-food brand among Emirati teens, followed by Pizza Hut and then McDonald's.

"We [tend to] believe this region is very different from the rest of the world because of its culture and religion," said Mr Bhalla.

"That is true to some extent but teenagers here are similar to other teens in other parts of the world. The aspiration values that they have are similar."

About 27 per cent of the Emirati teens surveyed agreed they were trendsetters and the first to buy any technological product that comes into the market.

They spend about US$140 (Dh514) on consumer goods each week, compared with a global average of $35 and an average in Egypt of just $8. One fifth of Middle East teenagers believe the higher the price of a brand or product, the better the quality.

The AMRB study was conducted among local males and females aged 12 to 19 across all socio-economic classes.

Pepsi pipped Coca-Cola as the favourite soft drink of Middle East teens, which Mr Bhalla said was probably a hangover from the Arab boycott of Coca-Cola for more than 20 years. "If you look at the market share currently, it's heavily skewed to Pepsi," he said.

One out of three Emirati teens said they preferred using a brand that promoted not just fashion but also social responsibility.

According to a global survey conducted last year on consumer products by Interbrand, one of the largest branding consultancies in the world, Coca-Cola has the highest brand value of any company globally, and topped the list for the 12th consecutive year.

The Interbrand list is dominated by technology and electronics companies, with IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Apple and Hewlett-Packard all in the top 10.

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