Marketing Opinion South Africa

#TheSocialAshTag: Ramadan marketing insights

Ramadan is a global season of reflection and introspection, with almost two billion people observing it globally, fasting daily and connecting with friends and family.
Image supplied: #TheSocialAshTag looks at Ramadan marketing insights
Image supplied: #TheSocialAshTag looks at Ramadan marketing insights

The season brings about a transformation in behaviours and attitudes and a change in every aspect of life. Ramadan is more than a moment—it’s a transformative season lasting eight weeks, which covers various stages from preparation, adjustment, and reflection to giving back and celebration.

During Ramadan, people undergo a shift in habits, fasting, gathering for meals with family and friends, and giving gifts. ‘Normal’ routines are suspended—and this shift in habits encourages brand discovery. In fact, people who are experiencing a shift in habits are 2.5 times more likely to try new brands.

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in South Africa with 41% of the population in Africa being Muslim. Brands can create meaningful connections with their audiences by listening and responding to hopeful and positive sentiments.

Despite the pandemic, we know that people still want to come together, whether virtually or socially distanced, to share the joy with loved ones, and that we’ll see the emergence of new discoveries and shopping behaviours as people head to digital platforms to engage in conversation about charity, faith, wellness, food, entertainment and more

Key cross-platform stats:

  • 89% of Ramadan shoppers or observers want to see content from brands on Facebook and Instagram that aligns with their views and values.
  • 70% of shoppers or observers made Ramadan discoveries on Meta technologies while browsing online during Ramadan 2021.
  • More than 9 out of 10 cross-border shoppers made spontaneous discoveries while browsing online during Ramadan 2021.
  • According to Google data, people watch more YouTube, perform more searches, and access the Internet on their mobile devices more frequently during Ramadan.
  • Twitter becomes a more expressive space with 2.7M emojis used in conversations around Ramadan in 2021, +6% growth compared to previous years.

The audience or Ramadan observers can be broken down into the following categories, although many people fall into more than one:

Foodie: People who share Ramadan recipes and restaurant picks for the pre-dawn and sunset meal.

Spiritualists: Those who connect with spirituality and charity giving opportunities online.

Community seekers: People most interested in celebrating togetherness, spending time with friends and family, and preparing the home for gatherings.

Gifters and shoppers: People on the hunt for trendy fashion and decor for Ramadan and Eid gifts. 51% of people surveyed who observe Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr say it’s the best time to find the deals. 45% of those who observe Ramadan buy clothes and fashion items during this period.

Watchers: People who watch and share online content, scrolling through social media during the fast and watching with family after the breaking of the fast. Surveys also show that multi-screening increases during Ramadan.

Groomers: People who want to stay healthy during Ramadan with exercise and healthy food. They are also looking for ways to stay groomed for family gatherings and prepare for Eid celebrations.

Travelers: People who visit loved ones during Eid celebrations.

Here are some key takeaways for 2022:

Social conscience drives support of local communities

Ramadan is a time for meaningful connection, reflection and charity, and brands can play an important role by giving back. Giving back is a central tenet of Ramadan, and for many, this is a time to help the less fortunate and strengthen community bonds.

This year, the drive to create positive change is stronger than ever — and people want brands to help. This is a chance for brands to connect with customers and their communities: creating a positive impact for causes that they care about, at a time when their support is needed the most.

This altruism extends to people's attitudes toward shopping: During the season, they often seek to help local and small businesses and are open to trying new brands that align with their values.

Unity through technology; mobile empowers family connection

People come to social media during Ramadan to connect with those who are celebrating, express their feelings and emotions, find entertainment, and get shopping recommendations.

Representation will always matter

The media and platform behaviours of audiences often change during Ramadan as people reflect, rejuvenate, and celebrate. They also look to brands to create content that makes them feel seen and represented and that comes across as empowering and authentic. Authenticity is key here – do not try to capitalize on a market that you do not continually serve and represent.

Continuous shopping results in a surprising second shopping peak

We’re also seeing retailers improving the online shopping experience for Ramadan deal-hunters: they’re smoothing their mobile check-out experience and exploring options like Messenger to provide better customer service. These businesses know that inspiring and making their customers’ lives easier during the festival will give them an advantage.

Buying gifts for loved ones is a joyful part of Ramadan for many. The window for gift shopping often begins long before the month itself—though there are also last-minute rushes and indulgences.

Ramadan shopping behaviours are nuanced and complex, spanning offline and online as well as across many different products and services. 50% of people start planning their purchases at least two-three weeks before the start of Ramadan, whether to find the best deals or identify all the relevant items they need. This means that for six-eight weeks a year, people are thinking, planning, shopping, and preparing for Ramadan.

Cross-border marketing

The evolution of e-commerce and digital accessibility has blurred the lines between local and global shopping—making it much easier to access products and services across borders. With people’s openness to new things during Ramadan, cross-border discoveries are increasingly taking place.

Studies show that 69% of Ramadan shoppers get “excited about trying new brands and products from abroad” and nearly one in two Ramadan shoppers globally (47%) made at least one cross-border purchase.

Ramadan is unlike any other time of year. It is a season of transformation that changes the behaviours and attitudes of many people around the world and provides them with a renewed sense of purpose. By enabling easier discovery, reducing friction, and delivering messaging that feels inclusive and representative, brands can meaningfully connect with this diverse community of observers and shoppers.

*Note that Bizcommunity does not necessarily share the views of its contributors - the opinions and statements expressed herein are solely those of the author.

About Ashleigh Burton

Ashleigh is a Digital Communications Associate at Consulum, a government advisory firm.
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