JAKARTA: The online behaviour of Indonesians changes significantly during the observance of Ramadan, new research has shown, especially when it comes to mobile search and e-commerce.

With technology playing an ever-growing role in the day-to-day life of Indonesians, smartphones invariably become a critical part of their religious observance.

These devices are now used by 61% of the population compared to just 17% who use desktops; they spend an average of 5.5 hours per day on mobile devices, much of it on social media.

An analysis of data gathered during last year's Ramadan by Google and GfK showed that mobile search increased significantly in Indonesia in the period leading up to the holy month, particularly one week before, as people searched for prayers and schedules, started preparation for post-fasting meals, and organised travel plans.

And during Ramadan itself, the different daily schedules demanded by fasting during daylight hours means that mobile usage patterns adapted accordingly. (For more, read the research in Warc's report: From Fast to Feast: Indonesian consumer behaviour during Ramadan.)

For example, as Muslims eat before sunrise during the holy month, jumps in pre-sunrise search activity reflected this change in routine.

Searches for sermons and prayer times increased just before the day began, while entertainment content also spiked – popular TV shows are watched more often before sunrise during this period. Online video consumption increased by as much as 15% during Ramadan – particularly on mobile.

The most noticeable change, however, was in online shopping habits. E-commerce web traffic between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. was 152% higher during Ramadan, with online shopping also increasing more than non-Ramadan months during lunch breaks and before the breaking of fasting in the evening.

But while Indonesia is the world's largest Islamic nation, that does not define it, and brands need to reach beyond halal. Warc's Demystifying Indonesia series presents a nuanced picture of an increasingly wealthy, forward-thinking and hyper-connected country driven by pragmatism.

Data sourced from Warc