Image Source: BirminghamLive
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin next week – around April 13 this year (although it begins with the sighting of the crescent moon, meaning it cannot be predicted precisely). It marks the month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in AD 610.
Ramadan is the most important Islamic festival in the year for Muslims – a time for spiritual reflection, self-improvement and heightened devotion and worship. There are themes of unity and closeness; humble, shared meals; and the strengthening of bonds. The month is marked with shared traditions like fasting during daylight hours and prayer as well as certain practices that vary from culture to culture.
While Muslims can be found all around the world, around 62 per cent of the world’s Muslims live close to Australia in the Asia-Pacific region (from Turkey to Indonesia), with over one billion adherents living in these areas alone.
In Australia, the number of people identifying as Muslim is well over 600,000 (Census 2016) or 2.6 per cent of the total Australian population. This was an increase of over 15 per cent compared to the previous Census.
With so many Muslims living close to, and in Australia, let us take a closer look at how the Muslim faithful mark Ramadan, and the marketing opportunity. Here are just a few countries celebrating in different ways.
Australia’s closest neighbour to our North is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, with around 225 million Muslims. More than 85 per cent of the Indonesian population identifying as Muslim. On the day before Ramadan, across Indonesia Muslims conduct cleansing rituals. In parts of Java there is a purifying tradition called padusan in which Javanese Muslims bathe in springs, soaking from head to toe.
The state religion in Pakistan is Islam, which is practised by more than 95% of the population. At the end of Ramadan (or Ramzan as it is called in Pakistan), people flock to shops to buy new clothing, colourful bangles, visit salons, and paint their hands and feet with henna.
Muslims in Egypt welcome Ramadan with colourful fanous – intricate lanterns that symbolise unity and joy throughout the holy month. Although this tradition is more cultural than it is religious, it has come to be strongly associated with the holy month of Ramadan, taking on a spiritual significance.
In Maldives, Ramadan is called Roadha Mas. Maldivians traditionally prepare for Ramadan by refurbishing and cleaning homes, stocking up on food, and organising pre-Ramadan meals called maahefun for loved ones. After Iftar in Maldives (the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast), poets are asked to recite Raivaru; Ramadan related poetry.
Like it or not, the reality is that Ramadan – like Christmas – has become a season of increased consumerism and attention to shopping.
Australian marketers seeking to tap into the revenue potential associated with this 600,000+ audience segment at this time stand to gain big.
Sectors that stand to gain the most include:
|Food and beverage||(increased consumption and get-togethers)|
|Retail and hospitality||(people go out after Iftar to socialise, eat out and shop)|
|Clothing and jewellery||(especially as people buy new outfits for Eid)|
|Beauty services||(popular during Eid)|
|Transport and travel||(as people travel to visit friends and family)|
|Charities||(giving back is a big part of Ramadan)|
|Telcos||(increased data usage and calls back home)|
Here are a few simple tips to follow:
1. Many Muslims take their religion very seriously indeed. As such, respect and a decent level of understanding is essential to ensure your campaign resonates as well as easily sidestep any potential Ramadan marketing mistakes. Consider culturally testing your marketing campaign before going ahead, to ensure it resonates with your target audience.
2. Do not be afraid to tap on the power of symbolism. Crescent moons, dates, lanterns, calligraphy, and teapots are all popular and much-loved symbols during this time.
3. Ramadan is about family and prayer first and foremost. It is not a time when shoppers are necessarily out and about looking for deals, so a soft sell approach works best to generate goodwill and build relationships that lead to long lasting revenue opportunities in the future.
4. Your audience may prefer Ramadan marketing communications in their own language. Consider crafting bilingual in-store signage and advertisements but make sure you seek out a professional language development/ translator to do so.
5. Communications matter right through Ramadan, but in terms of digital marketing look towards the second half of Ramadan and into Eid especially for conversions.