Online Shopping in a Restrictive Society: Lessons from Saudi Arabia

Stuart Roper, E. S. Al-Kahifah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose - Western consumers are able to take shopping for granted, their major restriction being financial. This research aims to understand motivations to buy fashion items online in the culturally restrictive environment of Saudi Arabia, which imposes considerable fashion and behavioural restrictions, particularly on females.
Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative research was conducted with a sample of 34 Saudi women in their home country providing a deep insight into the restrictions that women face when shopping and how they react to these restrictions. Two theoretical lenses, psychological reactance and system justification theories, are invoked to understand and explain consumer behaviour.
Findings - Motives for online shopping are quite different in a restrictive society. The definition of utilitarian motivations in online shopping is developed to reflect the drivers to overcome cultural restrictions or to align one’s shopping behaviour with them. Similarly, hedonic reasons for online purchase are expanded to incorporate nuances found only in such societies, where hedonic motivations include enjoying the breaking of societal restrictions.
Originality/value – This research is conducted is focussed on a country in which little academic marketing research has taken place due to considerable restrictions on movement and access. Western texts on consumer behaviour are not fully appropriate for understanding such a society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Market Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Oct 2020

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