The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, observed by nearly one quarter of the world’s population, started last week. This is a month of spiritual reflection, as well as heavy spending and consumption.
With values like compassion, gratefulness, and social responsibility being at the heart of the Ramadan ethics, there are many opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in a meaningful manner and we’ve seen interesting trends take shape in the past few years. What can we expect for 2019?
- Connecting Ramadan values to a brand purpose
Cause marketing works well during this holy month and it has become a tradition for brands to create heart-warming campaigns with positive social messages for Ramadan. However these are often a one-off and it’s a lot more interesting to see when brands integrate these campaigns to their higher level brand purpose.
Every year Unilever pleases us with Dirt is Good campaign where lovely kids go above and beyond (and get terribly dirty in the process) to help their neighbours and community, and this year again Unilever Pakistan played this card beautifully with this Surf Excel campaign
- Celebrating Ramadan inclusively
These past years, we’ve seen brands tackle the question of the relationship of Muslims with other communities. This is an interesting evolution, and a reflection of the craving from many Muslims to be more respected for their beliefs and practices around the world.
I have enjoyed in particular the following Coca-Cola campaign from last year where a non-Muslim young woman waits until sunset to share a Coke with a Muslim stranger, and how dry fruit brand Rostaa depicted a similar act of solidarity in the workplace.
3. The age of saturation
Ramadan is a time when daily habits and consumer patterns change; retail sales (digital or not), restaurants and travel bookings are at their highest, as consumers buy gifts and make plans with family and friends. Good marketers know this, and we are reaching an age where excellence in execution will create the best performing Ramadan campaigns.
In this context, when most marketers are focusing on optimisation, what we’re craving to see is more disruption. Which brand will be the first to start innovating and shaking patterns?
4. Health concerns during Ramadan
Even more so than during the rest of the year, health concerns are prominent during Ramadan. When fasting during the entire day, it’s important that the body remains hydrated and energised as to better cope with the deprivation. Whilst this is fertile ground for lifestyle journalists and recipe bloggers, there is no much happening from a new product development perspective in many markets in the Middle-East. From suhoor smoothies to low in carb recovery meals, we’re waiting to see brands offering the convenient solutions consumers need to support healthier lifestyles.
5. Ramadan goes green
Sustainability only has a tiny share of voice during Ramadan, but there are early signs that this might change, particularly being driven by the Muslim communities in Western countries. Turkish Airlines celebrated the first day of Ramadan offering a cute little iftar package to its customers; but with a single and individually wrapped date, one delicious but individually wrapped baklava, and a pack of three individually wrapped olives, it was a lot of plastic and packaging for what was otherwise a beautiful idea.
We’ve seen many local communities in countries like the US and the UK organise activities from workshops to courses via locally sourced iftar and replanting the seeds from the dates traditionally used to break the fast, and it will be good to keep an eye on similar developments throughout the Muslim world.