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Time Spent Engaging with Washroom Advertising Equates to Watching a Sitcom Once a Month
TLC Middle East

TLC Middle East, premium supplier of mall and lifestyle media, has just completed research into the effectiveness of washroom advertising as a medium. Research was conducted on behalf of TNS Consultants, and surveying the UAE, KSA and Kuwait markets. Findings reveal that consumers are spending about an hour a month with this targeted form of advertising.

The main driver behind TLC Middle East’s research was to find out more about mall behaviour and advertising retention in the Middle East across the three major markets, and to find out the role washrooms play in this environment.

“Washroom Advertising is one method which is largely unexplored and therefore the effectiveness of the medium is extremely important to understand,” says managing director of TLC Middle East Craig Wight.

“Also, given the conservatism of markets like the Gulf countries, it’s imperative to understand how consumers feel about a brand that is being advertised in these environments.”

The study included both men and women in the UAE markets but only women in the KSA and Kuwait regions.

The opening research focused on the main drivers for visiting malls with the key findings showing that in the KSA 16% of Arab women visit shopping malls with a clear intent to purchase several items at a conveniently situated supermarket, with 30% of ladies actually making purchases. In the UAE 34% of women plan to shop at supermarkets with a phenomenal 47% making several purchases on any one visit.

“The research clearly shows that when in a mall environment, a lot of unplanned shopping is taking place,” says Craig. “This is even more reason for marketers to have a clear brand presence in the shopping mall space. More specifically it is targeted communication in the washrooms which is making such a great impact.”

Another key finding is that 48% of men go to malls with the main intention to stock up on items from the supermarkets, or to purchase clothes and shoes, most notably in Kuwait. “The opportunities in-mall for marketers to speak directly to their male consumers is enormous,” says Craig. “A lifestyle environment such as ours lends itself to providing communication to men and women at a time when they are open to receiving advertising and more importantly, they are in a mall where all advertised products can be purchased immediately.”

So just how often do washrooms get visited during shopping mall outings? TLC Middle East’s research has strategically mapped the shopper journey, identifying their first three ‘stops’ during shopping outings. In all three regions, over 70% of respondents visited a washroom during one of their first three retail stops.

When it comes to how often research respondents are visiting the malls and how much time they’re there, the findings reveal that in the UAE shoppers visit the malls just under 6 times a month, spending an average of 97 minutes per visit. Those in the KSA region visit fewer times per month (3.7) but stay longer than their UAE counterparts (130 minutes). Kuwait residents will visit their favourite lifestyle destinations on average 4 times per month, spending 73 minutes per visit.

“The research also shows that many consumers won’t shop alone,” says Craig. “Shopping outings in KSA and Kuwait are big family outings whilst those in the UAE region will shop with friends and family.” Another interesting fact is that over 70% of mall visitors frequent the washroom at least once per visit with up to 25% visiting twice. “These figures are extremely encouraging for advertisers already benefiting from washroom advertising,” he says.

In the UAE Arab men spend just under 7 minutes in the washroom per visit (6.9 visits per month) equating to just under an hour spent in the washroom on a monthly basis! Arab females spend slightly more time in washrooms than the men (7.6 minutes per visit) 5.5 times a month, spending a total pf 52 minutes in these environments every month. “If one compares this amount of time to television viewing for instance, that’s equivalent to watching a full sitcom in the washroom every month.”

Arab consumers in the KSA region spend on average 6 minutes per visit. One of the main reasons for longer stays in the washrooms is that over 85% of respondents spend time looking in the mirror, highlighting mirror decals and scrolling mirror ads as effective advertising platforms.

“To accurately track brand recall and recognition, respondents were interviewed up to half an hour after they had visited a washroom, or on exiting the mall,” Craig explains. “The Ponds and Dove brands showed the best brand recall among ladies in the KSA region. Another brand which enjoyed particularly high success among women was Lux three months after its campaign had run.”

Both the Gillette Razors and Dettol advertising in male washrooms left the best impression on men in this market with figures reflecting that the value proposition resides well with this audience.

“When it comes to innovation in the washrooms, TLC Middle East has launched ‘Tester Units’ in various washrooms around its three operational regions and this latest offering is proving to be phenomenally successful,” says Craig. Tester Units allow men and women to trial a product, deodorant, creams, soaps, air-fresheners etc without the pressure to purchase. The research showed that over 80% of respondents believe sampling is the best way to trial a product but 80% also stated they prefer to sample product on their own. “The Tester Units offer the perfect solution,” he says.

For marketers and advertisers desiring a captive audience for their brands, with no other media distractions around, washroom and lifestyle media options are a must for the media schedules.