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How brands can embrace Ramadan

Ramadan is a calendar opportunity for every brand: how can they build campaigns that are sensitive, powerful and effective at this time of year?

Annual cultural moments such as Ramadan need to be hard-wired into strategies. Facebook’s director - Creative Shop Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Weera Saad and campaign and contents lead, Northern Europe, Miriam Faber, discuss how brands can reach a millions-strong global audience with a high propensity to pay attention to those pioneers who showcase authentic storytelling during Ramadan. They share common misconceptions as well as tips on making the most of the opportunities with sensitivity and vision.

Why is Ramadan such a significant moment for brands?
Weera Saad: "Ramadan is a global moment for an extremely diverse group of people observing ritualistic activities with a high propensity to give attention to brands that tell the story right. That’s very exciting for brands because finally technology can address this."

What are the opportunities for Ramadan?
WS "Ramadan’s global nature hasn’t been fully tapped, but I believe we’ll start seeing disruptor brands capturing the space. You have the world’s most diverse social tribe experiencing a real visceral growth journey that cuts across borders and generations. Everyone starts fasting at the same time, after the early morning Suhoor meal, then breaks their fast at the same time for the evening Iftar meal.

"The tools to address this community en masse didn’t exist a decade ago but brands can now benefit from the virtual nature of this neighbourhood. Another opportunity lies in attention to entertainment. Brands can capture that through feel-good stories, family fun and entertainment with a high emotive value."

What are the common misconceptions and mistakes?
Miriam Faber: "There’s a misconception that Ramadan is untouchable, entrenched in heritage and tradition. In reality, the values have never changed and stand the test of time – it’s around community, reflection and togetherness. "Brands can be afraid of getting it wrong, but in the UK alone there are around four million Muslims to ask about Ramadan. It’s crazy to think we aren’t tapping into that."

How does Facebook activity change through Ramadan?
WS "We see conversations about ‘goodness’ peak as humanity strives to be its best, while there’s a surge in people sharing greetings. There’s an increase in activity across messenger-type apps, with people planning through the day where they will have their Iftar meal."

MF "More time is spent on video viewership, as well as late-night shopping, with a focus on fashion – people will buy a completely new wardrobe because they are either out every evening, or entertaining. "On our platform, the most popular types of content are around food, which is embedded in this festival. Preparations for food begin up to three weeks before Ramadan actually starts. Retailers and e-commerce sites need to make sure they are prepared."

Is Eid a more important moment than the whole month?
MF "While the whole month is of equal importance, Eid marks the end of the journey. That might be your spiritual moment where you reflect on the self-learning, enriching experience you’ve had, but it is really about the whole month of Ramadan."

How does Ramadan differ from other cultural moments that inspire activity, such as Christmas? 
WS "Its ritualistic nature is quite different because there’s this global community of diverse people sharing the challenge of fasting, then all eating at the same time." MF "Each day before Iftar there’s this feeling of anticipation around the food. People are on social media sharing pictures of meals they’re about to eat. That’s where technology has given people an opportunity to share globally in a way they haven’t before."

Is Ramadan the same every year?
MF "Ramadan brings the same positivity spike each year but what’s different now are the tools to share that experience with a bigger community. Technology has enabled the global village of Ramadan to grow, enriching the storytelling and empowering people to express themselves on a meaningful level."

How should Ramadan affect creativity and strategy?
WS "Brands should embrace the white space, but it’s essential to do your research – why not bring in cultural consultants to help tell this multi-layered story? "Think of the strategy in terms of capturing new audiences. For most brands Ramadan’s currently either a blind spot or an uncomfortable space. It’s time to unveil that moment and enjoy the perks of being a pioneer."

What are the likely business outcomes from a successful campaign?
MF "During this month there’s much higher ad recall within the Muslim community when they are reflected in a campaign. The fear of getting it wrong is holding some brands back, but it’s too much of a business risk not to embrace Ramadan and try to connect with audiences."

WS "The benefits also link to inclusion and diversity. Brands simply cannot turn away from Ramadan any more, especially those in F&B or fashion."

What does success look like?
MF "Success means greater cultural understanding about the significance of Ramadan, reflecting the Muslim community in an authentic way."

WS "For me, success is shining a light on this community that has never before had a calibrated voice in the global scene, going beyond the spiritual and religious veil to embrace and communicate about Ramadan."

Standout stats

- 1.9bn Ramadan observers
- 30 days
- 11 hours fasting daily (In the UK the fasting in 2020 will be around 18.5 hours at its longest)
- 96% of people who observe Ramadan think it’s more important than any other festivals celebrated in the year
- 61% of UK people who shop during Ramadan plan their purchases at least three weeks before the start of Ramadan
- 54% of Ramadan observers say their favourite method for brands to approach them is via FB platforms
- +7pt higher brand recall for ads featuring Ramadan values (family, coming together) compared with ads featuring generic cues

5 ingredients for more meaningful Ramadan marketing

1. Think bigger
Ramadan is an important global moment. To stand out, businesses will have to be bold and go beyond normal activations.
- Scale across borders
- Reach audiences beyond
- TV Connect with people across the consumer journey

2. Be where it matters
People are spending more time on mobile and are multi-screening during Ramadan. Surround your consumers where and when it matters – up to three weeks before Ramadan and two weeks post Eid. 
- Leverage Facebook platforms
- Start early
- Be in-store ready

3. Master mobile storytelling
People are spending a lot of time on mobile during Ramadan. Foster meaningful connections with mobile-best creative, tailored to the moments of Ramadan.
- Share messages that matter
- Think video
- Play more with new formats to breakthrough

4. Let technology do the work
Use automated solutions to build media efficiencies and stand out within the crowded space.
- Rely on machine learning
- Prevent under-delivery
- Prep your tech in advance

5. Mature your measurement
Know your true business impact and optimise for what matters to your business.
- Use relevant KPIs
- Leverage the right measurement solutions
- Test and iterate


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