RIYADH: Internet usage and social networking rates are already high in Saudi Arabia, but new analysis has identified a growing demographic segment which behaves in a significantly different manner from the average Saudi adult.

Authored by Shaharyar Umar from research firm Global TGI Kantar Media, the study logged the online activity of a mostly youthful group it described as "Always-On" connected consumers.

These were defined as people who accessed the internet every day via a mobile device, making up almost two-thirds (29%) of all Saudi internet users and as much as 72% of the 15-34 age group.

Brands engaged in mobile commerce have a "mammoth opportunity" to reach this group, the report said, because it found almost half of the Always-On segment purchased goods and services via their mobile devices.

They were also 72% more likely than the average Saudi internet user to access social networking sites while 36% of them did so via a mobile device.

Significantly, almost three-quarters (71%) of Always-On consumers have visited social media sites compared with 41% of all Saudi adults and they were also more active in their engagement.

A full 30% have visited a brand's page, 23% have commented on them, the same proportion (23%) have 'liked' or promoted a brand's page while 12% used the page to register a complaint.

These levels of engagement increased still further among Always-On consumers who used social media. Nearly half visited a brand's page while a third posted a comment or 'liked' and/or promoted the page, the report found.

It also noted they were about 70% more likely than the national average to use the internet to buy airline tickets or to book a holiday, and nearly twice as many used online banking (40% versus 23% of all adults).

Similarly, Always-On consumers were twice as likely to make online purchases with a voucher (8% versus 4%) and over half (57%) had read a blog.

With 75% of the Always-On group saying they valued websites that allow input from their users, the report concluded that sites that "allow users to engage, express and communicate will have success" in Saudi Arabia.

Data sourced from Global TGi Kantar Media; additional content by Warc staff