During the month of Ramadan, we experience a dramatic change of pace in our lives. The calming influence of the holy month is felt across the region. Families come together at the setting of the sun and practice openness and giving with their loved ones. This month of sacrifice and reflection is highly valued throughout the Muslim community, and sentiments are shared among other communities that reside in tandem in the MENA’s many cosmopolitan States.
The same can’t be said for business. This time of year brings with it significant opportunities for brands to engage with audiences. Consumer behaviors change greatly; consumption levels increase, not only in regards to F&B, but also media, opening a door for brands.
But with a more captive audience comes responsibility. The key consideration for brands is to be sensitive to the nature of the holiday, and the routines of the consumers. These consumers are far more willing to let brands into their homes. They invite friends, family and colleagues into their lives, gift and share with them, and brands must be conscious not to exploit this tradition.
In this vein, we find interesting trends, particularly in the Gulf. For example, there’s an expectation here for increasingly attractive promotions. Take the automotive sector; consumers are offered a car package, and that includes X, Y and Z for free. This has created a cycle between businesses and consumers. The consumers expect some kind of promotion, and in return are willing to buy more of the product.
This understanding is key. And some brands grow wealthy from it. There’s a number of brands that benefit greatly from the holy month of Ramadan, in comparison to the other months of the year due to the way they associate themselves with the holiday. On the other hand, there’s an argument that promoting your brand during Ramadan may have a negative effect on your business. Having an affinity to the sentiment of the occasion is vital. Therefore, brands that promote values that stray far from the core meaning and intentions of the holiday should think twice before using it as a platform.
Being in touch with the sentiment of Ramadan, as well as being aware of the business opportunities is the perfect balance.
Unlike the Christmas period, which is widely accepted as a consumption fest far detached from its traditions in many parts of the world today, consumers during Ramadan aren’t silly. They’re looking for brands to show commitment, and care towards society. Brands understand this. Multinational brands are keen to show they’re creating something important as opposed to just exploiting the occasion.
Brands must communicate their values with the audience, as opposed to simple advertising. Offering a promotion much like you would in a supermarket isn’t appropriate. Telling a story, and encouraging openness and sharing are much more effective measures.
In conclusion, there’s three key points that must be remembered when approaching market during the holy month. Firstly, show an appreciation of what Ramadan means to the individual, not just an understanding of what it is. Secondly, show enough respect as to not exploit the business opportunities. Finally, create something sustainable. A story that can be built upon is far more meaningful than something that ends with Ramadan itself.