Living in quarantine has been difficult on everyone, but it is about to get even more challenging for Muslims who begin Ramadan is isolation on Thursday.
Ramadan is a holy month for 1.8 billion Muslims (almost 25% of the world’s population) around the world. It is during this month that Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, spend time with family, build a closer relationship to their faith and give back to those less fortunate.
It is also a social month. It is common for followers to go to mosque each evening, share the iftar meal (breaking of the fast meal) with family and friends and spend time in the community. In Muslim-majority countries, the streets are filled with people after dark with markets and restaurants open until the next morning.
Retailers and restaurants see an increase in sales globally during Ramadan. As food becomes increasingly important, Muslims consumers normally spend more on themselves as well as through donations to food banks.
Like gym classes and happy hour these days, Ramadan will be a virtual experience for many. And like many other organisations, the Ramadan Tent Project has brought its Ramadan events online. Using #openiftar, the project connects Muslims through social media campaigns including donations to the NHS and also an #openiftar mailer pack full of recipes, decorations and advice on how to stay well in isolation.
The halal market is expected to reach three trillion dollars by 2023. As the Muslim population continues to grow globally and as its spending power increases, brands cannot ignore them. During Ramadan, it is now common to see Ramadan and Eid (celebration at the end of Ramadan) promotions at mainstream retailers in Western nations that were not present even five years ago. Just like Christmas or Easter, Ramadan is an opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers and offer them special brands and products.
If brands want to connect with Muslim consumers during this holy month, personalised offerings and thoughtful marketing would be strategic. Muslim consumers, like any other group, are not homogeneous, but they want to feel represented and offered products and services that fit their lifestyle. Consider how the Ramadan Tent Project went online and began offering advice to Muslims observing in isolation. Retailers can build this community by offering delivery boxes of halal goods and Ramadan favourites such as dates and desserts. Delivery companies such as UberEats and Deliveroo can also take this opportunity to promote halal products and specialised services.
Social media is a key platform for this. Muslim millennials (like most millennials) connect on social media to find halal products and restaurants, share experiences and build social communities. Understanding the social media community and partnering with organisations like Ramadan Tent Project is a way to engage with this group.
Like Christmas or Hanukkah, Ramadan does have a consumer element that cannot be ignored by brands and retailers. As this could be a particularly challenging time for Muslims, brands that build honest and meaningful connections with their consumers will win with this influential consumer group.