Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar that begins in March 2023.
It’s also one of the biggest marketing seasons around the world with its highest active core lying in the Middle East & Asia Pacific region.
What’s fascinating about this month is the generous display & practice of humane values such as compassion, charity, and empathy.
While everyone strives to inculcate the spirit of Ramadan among themselves, marketers & brands get busy trying to capitalize on the advertising & promotion opportunities that the month provides.
The month brings about a complete change in the patterns of consumption, not just in terms of meals but in media as well.
Starting early will give you a head-start to better understand your target audience, formulate the right strategy and develop creatives that'll appeal to them on a whole new level - especially in an environment recovering from the pandemic.
Last year’s Ramadan celebration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was a hybrid one, featuring a mixed bag of in-person and digital traditions.
Dining out and deliveries crossed over with cooking at home, and people shopped in-store while also adding items to cart on their mobiles.
Getting into the Ramadan spirit online led to a 16% year-on-year growth in “better with Ramadan” search queries in the week leading up to the holy month.
Within homes across the region, content consumption and online shopping were on the rise (which is quite the trend in Ramadan across MENA)
Last year was a big year for home baking — something that caught up faster during Ramadan.
Google's reports suggest that:
Searches for quick recipes, like 10-minute biscuits, grew 1000% week-on-week during the holy month as people sought new ways to make traditional favourites online.
What can we expect this year? Keep reading..
This article contains research compilation and recommendations from top marketing platforms like Google, YouTube, and Facebook to help you understand the complete change in social media marketing during Ramadan.
It's divided into 4 parts as follows:
- The 4 Phases of Ramadan
- 5 key themes will shape Ramadan 2023
- Campaign Strategies & Tips
- Campaign Examples from Top Brands
It’s about time you plan & finalize your Ramadan marketing campaigns for social media before it’s too late, leaving you scurrying around for customers.
So, by the end of this generously-written article, you’ll be able to conceptualize & execute social media campaigns that fully capture the interest of your target audience.
Approach the month with a new mindset, the one that places the essence of the month at its core to guide all the ideas for your social media content.
Let’s deep-dive into each section.
1) The 4 Phases of Ramadan (courtesy of Think With Google):
You can open the image in a new tab or download it to view on a bigger scale.
A more detailed breakdown of these phases can be found here.
The four phases of Ramadan remain the same as last year.
But what people search for during those times has evolved as they continue to adapt to changing norms.
As in previous years, these phases take place before and during the holy month, as well as over the Eid celebration, with different shopping behaviors across each.
THE PREPARATION PHASE
There's an increased focus on getting homes — particularly kitchens — entertainment ready. During this phase, search interest increased by:
Ahead of the holy month, the pressure is on to host in style.
• 50% for “cooking set”
• 25% for “air fryer”, “grocery store” and “electric oven”
• 160% for “Ramadan decoration”
During the preparation phase, people’s searches hone in on hosting guests, but with a stronger emphasis on kitchen appliances and home cooking.
THE EXCITEMENT PHASE
Consumers are making time to take care of themselves, with a rise in searches related to self-care.
Searches for greeting cards and Ramadan offers are also high. During this phase, search interest increased by:
• 35% for “moisturizer cream”
• 40% for “yoga mat”
• 180% for “Ramadan greeting card”
• 85% for “Ramadan offers”
In the excitement phase, shoppers are focused on getting ready, with me-time becoming a bigger priority. Celebrants also send well wishes to loved ones and seek Ramadan offers.
EID PREPARATION PHASE
People love to plan ahead for one of MENA’s biggest celebrations, pivoting their attention to source the perfect outfit and find great offers. But there’s an interesting new trend at this stage: Shoppers seek more convenient payment options. In this phase search interest increased by:
• 110% for “buy now pay later”
• 355% for “Eid offer”
• 155% for “Eid makeup”
• 170% for “Eid dress”
As in previous years, shoppers still search for fashion and gifts in the Eid preparation phase, but — new trend alert — they seek more convenient payment options.
Connecting with family and friends is core to this special time’s celebrations. Relaxing beats at-home entertaining, so food delivery app downloads and active users rise. People also want to look their best as they spend more time with the people they love, so grooming searches increase. During this phase we saw a:
• 35% increase in food delivery app active users1
• 64% rise in downloads of food delivery apps2
• 45% increase in search interest for “grooming”
• 50% increase in search interest for “hairstyle”
In the final Eid phase, consumers turn to food delivery apps for convenience, a trend that we saw intensify last year. They also search for gifts and offers.
2) 5 key themes will shape Ramadan 2023 (by Kantar’s Lina Abou El Azm)
i) - Renewal and rejuvenation
There’s an inside-out renewal of celebration, bringing back a sense of optimism based on engaging in simple yet fun activities together, like gaming, watching TV, and snacking.
‘Tablescaping’ is also set to trend in 2023 as the table takes its place as the centre stage, a place for creative expression, spreading joy throughout the household.
It’s a case of rejuvenating the spirit in everything from the practical, like decorating houses, to gifting and the smaller details that put a smile on loved ones’ faces.
ii) - Intention and mindfulness
This trend is about heartfelt prayers, gratitude, and simple good deeds.
The prayers take on a cultural form as consumers become more appreciative, intent on simplicity in their good deeds as a manifestation of the moment’s mindfulness.
It’s less about the lavish and more about humanitarian acts – going beyond boundaries to support charities digitally through apps, leaving water near walkways, and surprising neighbors in need with the month’s commodities.
This extends to the type of media content that resonates most during Ramadan, beyond the slapstick humour to reflect the introspective mood and positive affirmation, with deeper, more meaningful content.
iii) - Holistic wellbeing
This tier in with making better use of the month’s blessings, both physically and mentally.
The very definition of wellbeing is becoming more progressive, with enhanced awareness of Ramadan as a chance to evolve physically, mentally, and spiritually.
This is evident in mindfulness of portion sizes and variety, as we move from the lavish spreads of the past to include ingredients like oats in our baking and more vegetables than usual in our savouries, creating more nutritious dishes without compromising on the taste or enjoyment of the occasion.
The idea of movement rather than watching TV on the couch for hours is also gaining momentum, with more time spent playing sports and walking outdoors.
iv) - Quality connections
The above themes all tie into the idea of investing more time and effort in what matters most, with reduced social demands resulting in more introspective bonding and socialization during Ramadan.
The focus is on building more meaningful memories and connections while creating personalized gifts and being more selective about iftar gatherings.
This reflects the rising trend of expressing gratitude for quality rather than quantity of connections, maximizing the ‘baraka’ of spending time with loved ones.
v) - Prudence and value
This in turn results in making smarter choices when it comes to kitchen duties as well as spending and shopping, encouraged by-products and solutions that now deliver on ‘readiness’, helping consumers deliver delicious dishes with less effort.
The brand craze has been replaced by one of brand scrutiny – value brands can succeed if priced right.
Shopping habits have been reframed as it’s now about balancing functionality, image, and avoiding waste. For consumers, it’s all about making smarter choices.
3) Campaign Strategies for your Ramadan Social Media Marketing:
Once you’ve understood the change in media consumption during Ramadan, it’s time to gather some ideas for campaigns and devise overall strategies to guide your advertorial efforts.
As demonstrated in the stats earlier, online activity increases dramatically in this time period, resulting in ample pressure on brands to make the most of this month.
So, here are some Ramadan campaign ideas & strategies that you can implement for your brand:
- Choose Story-telling over Advertising:
Create campaigns that resonate with the spirit of Ramadan and feel more personal than advertorial.
Remember, it’s the month of giving so promote values such as charity, generosity, community activities and devotion.
When your brand launches a socially-favored campaign and invites the participation of your fans, you have the best chance to connect with them on a more personal level.
In other words, your brand gets to live with its target market by breaking down, otherwise complex barriers and instead embracing the true spirit of togetherness.
One great example of this is Surf Excel’s "Helping someone is also a form of worship” ad that left a majority of viewers teary-eyed and emotionally connected.
For more awesome Ramadan video campaigns, check out this compilation by Social Samosa.
Run Integrated Online Campaigns:
As suggested by ThinkMarketingMagazine, Brands who can afford television spots & social media advertising have the perfect opportunity to run successful festive campaigns that have a 360-degree reach.
Remember, 80% of people are on their smartphones while watching TV – and more people watch TV during Ramadan, so align your social media campaigns accordingly by focusing more towards the evening slots as it’s more popular & at its peak as compared to the rest of the day.
Although the cost of television spots increase due to the basic laws of economics (demand & supply), Youtube maintained the same cost-per-view & view-through rates as they did other months (Google).
You could consider promoting teasers & ads on Youtube to advertise your television series & programs because of an increase in social media usage.
Sources also suggest that Facebook is a great avenue for sponsored video content by providing an 8% increase in reach for integrated campaigns;
Take Advantage of the Festive Nature of Ramadan while Respecting Safety Regulations:
If you’re into the fashion & e-commerce industry, Ramadan will be beneficial for making some extra bucks.
While restaurants and cafes have restrictions on the number of guests, focus on messages promoting safety and social-distancing.
If you really want to stand out, encourage customers to reduce food wastage and instead pass it over to the less-privileged.
Although E-commerce websites might suffer a slump in the initial weeks, there will be a noticeable increase in website traffic and sales towards the end of the month.
Food-related ads garner positive reactions because people tend to search for pre-Ramadan recipes online as per Google.
During Ramadan: “Capitalizing on the public’s increased consumption of YouTube content, mastheads and videos on YouTube effectively communicate brands’ messages during Ramadan,” Google said.
Locally-based brands such as Al Marai as well as international brands such as Coca-Cola seem to have benefitted greatly from Youtube campaigns that promote the spirit of Ramadan instead of their respective products.
Here's some solid advice for retailers to prep up their Ramadan marketing activities.
Segment your days with Tailored Messages:
Each day of Ramadan is divided into 2 parts: Pre-iftar & Post-iftar.
Keeping that in mind, schedule your ads with specialized messages for each day part to maintain content relevance and optimum engagement.
If you’re a restaurant, your pre-iftar ads could promote your iftar offerings while your post-iftar ads could promote your suhoor offerings.
Optimize your Advertising Budget and Bids:
In Ramadan, there’s a 200% increase in Facebook usage between 2am & 5am with 400% more conversions at 3am.
Book your Facebook reach & frequency campaigns as early as possible to pay the pre-Ramadan ad costs instead of inflated rates.
Make sure to use Facebook’s inbuilt rules to increase your bids or budgets by 10% between 3pm & 6am.
With a tough competition in the advertising space, people will have a higher propensity to buy in many categories, so ROI would also increase.
Expect cut-throat bidding between brands so aim for slightly higher bids to get more visibility and if all goes well, a desirable ROI.
Be a part of Ramadan Conversations:
Twitter provides a great advantage to brands with the help of its Trending Hashtags.
In this example, witness how souq.com has created a themed hashtag called #WelcomeRamadan that'll resonate with both - customers & non-customers alike.
It helps you become a part of existing conversations happening around the world.
Further to that, Ramadan conversations on twitter saw an 88% increase in 2016 as compared to 2015.
Use hashtags in alignment with the key messages that your brand wants to put across.
Add a branded emoji to give your hashtags more visibility helping it stand out in people’s timelines.
One of Ramadan’s favorite brands, VIMTO is famous for creating unique hashtags that capture people’s attention leading to increased engagement on Twitter.
VIMTO ran a campaign using the hashtag خلنا_نجتمع# that encouraged people to actively engage with the brand.
They even added a Vimto bottle emoji that further boosted the social aspect of the brand.
With adequate promotion, It resulted in 40 million impressions and 3 million video views, reaching over 3 million people in the region.
Don’t forget Eid ul Fitr.
Towards the end of Ramadan, as the festive spirit intensifies to welcome Eid-ul-Fitr, advertisers have a great opportunity to create Eid offers & promotions.
This is fueled by an increase in users’ shopping intent since it’s about time to start gifting and celebrating another important festival.
To get some inspiration for Eid Mubarak ads, check out my article.
It’s ranked No.1 on Google for anyone looking for Eid ads, so make sure you don't miss out on it!
Add Cooking Shows & Recipe Videos to your Content:
If this falls under your vertical, incorporate video content focused on cooking shows & food recipes.
As per Google’s latest Ramadan insights report, watchtime on YouTube for cooking videos starts to increase steadily a month before the start of Ramadan, and peaks at almost 30% higher than average in the first week of Ramadan.
Searches for recipes also spike 50% higher than the annual average, especially at the start of the month.
That’s an excellent way to take advantage of Ramadan’s social media consumption trends in the region.
Team up with Influencers & Digital Content Creators:
With the rise of influencer marketing in the region, teaming up with popular content creators will get you more visibility, as it’ll be shared among the audience of each personality.
In fact, a new research by the BPG Cohn & Wolfe Influencers Survey (in association with YouGov) reveals that using social media influencers to drive consumer brand awareness has reached “record highs” within the UAE - especially for those marketers trying to target millennials.
“Brands are now, more than ever before, relying on creative new ways to tell their story . . . and are using social media influencers as a key part of their overall marketing strategy,” Avi Bhojani, BPG Group CEO, said.
“The findings from our survey reveal that a majority of consumer brands in the UAE believe that they can reach the right target audience if they work with social media influencers.”
4) Campaign Examples from Top Brands
In this section, I’ll share some of the best & most creative Ramadan ads by brands all over the world.
Look attentively because you might just find an inspiration for your next winning ad.
In case you need help with designing a creative Ramadan ad, remember that we’ve always got your back.
Based on the ads we’ve seen so far, here’s a list of all Ramadan elements that can be possibly used in your future ads.
- The Canon (that marks the breaking of fast everyday);
- Fanoos Ramadan, also known as Ramadan Lanterns;
- Dates (a classic staple all over the world);
- Arabic Teapot (hinting towards the traditional arabesque essence of Ramadan);
- Tasbih, also known as prayer beads;
- The Crescent Moon (the most used and recognizable element of this holy month);
By incorporating one or more of the above-mentioned Ramadan elements, you’ll be able to better convey the message of this holy month.
To get more inspiration on Ramadan social media marketing, check out this power-packed article.
Don’t let all those facts & figures confuse you.
This guide was written as a one-stop resource for all your Ramadan research.
It has been compiled using data from over 20 sources to give you the best & actionable insights for social media marketing in Ramadan.
If you have the in-house capability to run social media campaigns for Ramadan, great!
Otherwise, you can always get in touch with us to plan & execute Ramadan special campaigns to make the most of this festive season.
- Snapchat Marketing Insights for Ramadan 2023
- 3 YouTube content trends to supercharge your Ramadan ads