Islam is the most widely practiced religion in Southeast Asia with more than 240 million Muslims residing in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia - part of the 1.6 billion globally. And Ramadan, the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar this year will begin on 24 April and conclude on 23 May.
During the Ramadan period, online behaviour in apps and on websites, along with the demand for different products, services and content changes. Knowing how and when these changes impact your target audience’s propensity to spend is crucial in aligning your efforts with their shopping intent, for the best advertising return.
How the fasting month will be observed this year is also going to be influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic which will see some trends we typically see around Ramadan dampened, and some heightened.
Be conscious of the impact COVID-19 will have
The current COVID-19 pandemic will amplify user traffic to certain sites and pages, while diminishing traffic to others. Social distancing measures and an increased pressure for people to stay home will change their browsing habits, likely bring more people online and redirect where their eyeballs go.
For example, the gaming industry has seen a spike in users watching live streams, while demand for food deliveries is on the rise as consumers order-in more, which is likely to further reinforce an already high increase in app downloads during Ramadan itself, and its neighbouring months.
Lifestyle content may even be amplified beyond levels in previous years as consumers look to apps and digital events to observe Ramadan customs. Social and communications apps are also likely to see a surge as virtual environments replace physical gatherings for Iftar and Eid.
In stark contrast, we can expect demand for travel related products and content to drop sharply, due to nationwide travel bans, lockdowns, and general consumer uncertainty. The increase of 35% in downloads for travel apps observed in 2018 and 2019 data seems unlikely in 2020.
Typically, there is a surge in traffic to eCommerce sites and downloads of eCommerce apps attributed to observers buying new clothes and gifts for Eid celebrations. With many of these gatherings restricted this year and the potential economic impacts on consumer spending, it is likely that there will be no gains in eCommerce activity attributable to Ramadan.
However, eCommerce may rise during this period regardless, but any increases will be the result of impacts of COVID-19 such as closure of bricks & mortar retail, and community lockdowns.
What do advertisers need to do to get Ramadan-ready
For the best marketing results, brands need to know the intricacies of how the event affects their target market and the way that market interacts with their product category over the period.
It’s not enough to have an advertising plan that is just for the period of Ramadan – as we approach the holy month, consumer habits are changing even now. To maximise your advertising effectiveness, you need to pick your timing according to fluctuations in demand for your product category over the period.
Study the browsing habits of audiences. Get to know how behaviour shifts impact your target audience so that you can align your messaging to their needs over this period and ensure you are reaching them in the right channels at the right times.
Look beyond the obvious. The effects of Ramadan span the weeks leading and following the holy month too. In the weeks surrounding Ramadan, it may even be the case that media costs and competition are both lower too. Depending on your category, there is likely an ideal time to reach your audience.
Businesses need to be familiar with when their audiences start a research process, and when it is anticipated that these audiences will start consuming a product or service – which brings us to the next point.
Protect your budget from fraud. Ramadan presents an opportunity for many brands to engage consumers when they have a heightened desire to consume specific products and services. Taking advantage of this means better advertising ROI for a short period of time. Make the most of the opportunity by protecting your budget from ad fraud.