Ramadan, the most important month on the Islamic calendar, is characterized by communal iftars or special evening meals. Muslims across the globe participate in the iftars enthusiastically, spurring a spike in consumer spending during this time – especially in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.
Economic studies, data analysis and experts opined that Saudi Arabia alone spent approximately $66 billion on food commodities during Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Fitr. Last year, the Statistic Center Abu Dhabi stated that food prices in Abu Dhabi had gone up by 1.9 percent during the first week of Ramadan; and according to the National Center for Social and Criminal Research, Egyptians spend 63 percent more on sweets, 66.5 percent more on meat and poultry, and 25 percent more on nuts and nibbles, while banquets and family dinners exceed by 23 percent, during the Holy Month.
Therefore, Ramadan has become a prime time for commercial markets across Middle East and Africa (MEA), with retail and food and beverage sectors registering the biggest profits of the year around this time.
With the surge in social media usage and online interactions during Ramadan, F&B industry players in MEA are turning to digital media to connect with their audiences and increase sales. Here are a few online marketing suggestions on how one can leverage the social base by connecting with their customers.
As per a report by Middle East-based social media agency The Online Project, there is a 30 percent hike in social media activities during Ramadan, with a sharp rise in the volume of tweets after the evening meal. During this time, it is important to capitalize on the activity, usage and viral marketing opportunities of such platforms to offer targeted and theme-specific campaigns that can help monetize the social base.
Brands can leverage the themes of Ramadan – sharing, caring and charity – to establish a stronger connection with the consumers. They must also get a deeper insight into consumer behavior and tap into the theme and philosophy of Ramadan to get noticed.
According to an estimate by the Pan Arab Research Center in Dubai, Egyptian advertising agencies spend about $142 million during Ramadan, a number that will continue to rise.
The evening meal has become highly commercialized, and major hoteliers often leverage the Arabian concept of tents – known as ‘Khaimas’ – to customize their seating arrangements and offerings. For instance, Jumeirah Beach Hotels put up Ramadan tents where the minimum price per guest for food is $270, and seating in the tent is priced at $27.
With so many F&B players dominating the marketplace with theme-specific offerings and significant marketing spend, digital platforms provide a viable and cost-effective channel. In fact, many businesses have been offering digital coupons in real time across channels and websites such as Retailmenot.com.
Ramadan provides a golden opportunity for F&B players in the Middle East and Africa to connect with their Muslim consumer base and position their brand through compelling social media campaigns for improved revenues.