Exclusive Ramadan tips Part II: Are you investing where users are spending?

May 30, 2018 8:00 am

The holy month of Ramadan is an introspective and spiritual time of the year, when people fast, pray, change their daily routines, catch up with their favorite TV drama series and spend more time with their near and dear ones.

It’s also that time of year when television and digital screens are bombarded with commercials. To help marketers outshine their competitors, and stand out amid Ramadan ad clutter, Sapience, in partnership with Mediaquest, conducted an analytical study titled “Marketing in Ramadan”.

The first part of the report, released last week, looked at trends in the FMCG sector.

This week’s report looks at how media consumption and purchase behaviors change throughout the month of Ramadan and how advertisers can make the most of these changes to reach their audience.

This is part II of the tips we published yesterday.

To download this part or the full whitepaper, please click here, and a representative will be in touch with you. 

Read: Consumers make ‘impulsive’ purchases during Ramadan. Are you one of them?

What are brands doing?

FMCG brands, in particular, are spending on TV and paying premium prices due to the mass viewership of the medium, while automotive brands tend to spend on out-of-home to promote their Ramadan offers, says Bachaalani

Hyundai, for example, has a balanced approach to digital and TV. Its pre-Ramadan and during Ramadan ads will be showcased both on TV and online, whereas the post-Ramadan/Eid campaign will be only digital. As part of this approach, the brand has chosen various media channels based on their popularity during Ramadan, including MBC, Rotana, Shahid, YouTube, and Weyaak, says a spokesperson from the automaker.

And then there’s Huawei. Although its Ramadan activities are fairly spread out across digital, video, retail, experiential and PR, the central theme is #SayShukran this Ramadan / #قول_شكراً في رمضان.  Evident from the hashtag, the campaign puts digital at the core. The brand even created a Facebook Messenger bot for the holy month to create deeper engagement with the target audience. “Given our call to action involves people sharing intimate and heartfelt stories about their loved ones, we wanted to ensure we treat this engagement in a more meaningful and respectful manner, which the bot allows for. It also gives us the opportunity to create tailored content, resulting in a better experience for participants in the campaign,” explains a spokesperson.

Read Ramadan or not, which is the top regional city aspired by Muslim travellers?

Listerine is also one of the prominent advertisers during Ramadan mainly due to its ‘Miswak’ mouthwash. Some people only use miswak during Ramadan, making this an apt time to promote the product. The brand has taken an interesting approach wherein it’s using digital to target consumers at the right moment. Given that watch time for content around food and recipes increases by 25 percent during Ramadan, Listerine wants to target users right when they’re watching this content to remind them to well, wash afterwards. And so, Listerine – or rather its agency, UM – is working closely with “moment marketing company” TVTY to sync and target second screeners with the brand videos whenever relevant food commercials appear on TV, explains Shreya Parker, associate media director at J3 MENA. The strategy includes targeting food and recipe keywords across YouTube and programmatic, in addition to suhoor-related banner messaging and of course, social media.

Read: Dubai commuters who are fasting could face a rude awakening this Ramadan

Purchase behavior

The week before Eid-al Fitr sees the highest rise in online retail sales and website visitors, according to Criteo. Weekly retail sales showed a maximum uplift of over 42% and visitors of over 35% across the Middle East during Ramadan.

The shopping mania begins well before Ramadan as people stock up on items – especially those that have a longer shelf life and are available at discounted prices. For example, pastries, dough and pasta is the category that’s purchased in advance much more than others with 91 percent purchasing it more than two weeks before. Carbonated soft drinks, on the other hand, are mostly purchased during the month as they’re not used in the preparation of other iftar or suhoor items.

This is why Nestlé’s local factories start planning a year ahead, peaking production to ensure that stocks reach to the shops early enough to help people make decisions ahead of time. “Ramadan has a different impact depending on the business; it can go up to 40 percent of the annual sales of some brands,” says Rainer Mueller, communications director at Nestlé Middle East, which means preparing ahead of time is of utmost importance.

“It’s the most significant month of our calendar,” says Sunder with almost 20 percent of annual revenue being generated during Ramadan and its Home & Beauty offering peaking through the month.

Even Sapience’s data shows that the home is an important place for audiences during Ramadan as 53 percent prefer having friends and family over compared to non-Ramadan days resulting in a 54 percent decrease in outdoor dining during the month.

In fact, brands’ expenditure during Ramadan is almost twice of what it is in every other month, says Initiative’s Nahas.

Read: Which GCC country is seeing a 200% spike in grocery prices during Ramadan?


All in all, Ramadan is a crucial period for brands and their audiences in the region. This year, however, is unique in that users’ media habits and purchase behaviors aren’t affected only by Ramadan specific factors.

The economic downturn, media spends being spanned out due to five regional countries participating in the World Cup, and the launch of new programs – on TV and online – are resulting in changes in user behavior, which in turn will affect how brands communicate with them. And in this environment, it is more important than ever before to understand how, when and where consumers are spending both, their time and money.

 This is part of the report originally published on Communicate (www.communicateonline.me), AMEinfo’s sister company 


Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.