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Snapchat enjoys success beyond Millennials in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, 28.5% of respondents in our latest survey indicated Snapchat use, marking the highest percentage of regular video consumption via the app for any country. Snapchat consumers are often thought of as being predominantly young millennials, but the latest wave of our consumer survey shows this is not true for all markets. Whilst the youngest age group (18-24) sees the greatest over-index for Snapchat use, the over-index in Saudi Arabia is a mere 50% compared to 400% in France. Saudi Arabian Snapchat video usage has permeated beyond just millennials; Saudi respondents aged from 18 to 44 over-indexed for Snapchat use, leaving only the two oldest demographics less engaged than the average.
 
There has been speculation about cooperation between the Saudi ruling family and Snapchat. A month after a private meeting between Snapchat Chief Executive Evan Spiegel and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in 2015, Snapchat ran a special story focused on the country’s capital city. The “Riyadh Life” story was available globally to all users of the app and featured stories uploaded by Riyadh citizens. These stories promoted the fun side of Riyadh and challenged some of the often-negative views held about it. 

Saudi Arabia has strict censorship laws that extend to the internet. Features amongst apps such as Whatspp, Viber and Facebook messenger get blocked and unblocked frequently. Although usage of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is widespread to get around such regulations, it opens up an opportunity for a new instant messaging client to step in. However, how long Snapchat will be allowed to operate is unclear, as some religious leaders and newspapers have condemned the app. 

Nevertheless, while Snapchat continues to be allowed to operate, our survey indicates that it has been more successful in reaching the older generations in Saudi Arabia than its home market. Perhaps when seeking a glimpse into the future of the ephemeral messaging app we should be looking East, rather than West.