The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way people live, connect, shop and discover. This was more evident during Ramadan, a period of introspection and celebration for nearly 2 billion people. During Ramadan, people want to come together, whether virtually or socially distanced, to share joy with loved ones. Despite inevitable differences in recent years, we will see the emergence of discovery and shopping behaviours.
To better understand the behaviours of people who observe Ramadan and who shop for this season, Facebook IQ, Facebook’s insights and research division, in partnership with YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, has unveiled findings of a study conducted during Ramadan 2020, with over 17,000 respondents across eleven countries including the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 1,500 interviews were completed with samples representing the adult online population across age, gender and region in each market. The research explored a range of areas, including people’s purchasing and media habits, the impact of COVID-19, the role of influencer content and how communities give back.
The research highlights the booming e-commerce industry is significantly driving the digital economy in the UAE.
Here are six tips for UAE brands and businesses to effectively adapt and plan this Ramadan:
Discover new ways to support businesses
The theme of giving back is deeply rooted in Ramadan. People are increasingly giving back with time and money – and this extends to local businesses too. 74 per cent agree that brands should find ways of giving back during Ramadan. As people personally contribute to their communities, they increasingly expect the same of businesses. They want brands to express their values, speak authentically and stand up for causes they care about. In fact, the research also shows that 62 per cent of survey respondents in the UAE became more interested in a brand after learning about their business practices. That is why brands must raise awareness of their support for local businesses and the community during the pandemic clearly and simply.
Discover mobile audiences
During Ramadan, people look to technology, especially mobile, to stay up-to-date and connect with family and friends. They also use mobile to shop and stay entertained. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile has become the constant companion driving additional time spent on the small screen. The research shows that 44 per cent of survey respondents in the UAE spend more time using their mobile during the season. This means that more people are now using mobile across discovery, research, and purchase than in-store. Knowing this, brands must leverage the rise in mobile entertainment and resources to reach the right audience where they are adapting to how and where they like to discover new things.
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Creators offer a new source of credibility. Amongst the Ramadan observing and shopping community surveyed in the UAE, half agreed that public figures and celebrities influence their purchasing decisions. They look to public figures for self-improvement content and deals, especially when it comes to discovering and purchasing new products and services. Therefore, brands must engage with partners and creators to help authentically reach new audiences and explore collaborating with creators who can inspire, generate deals, and announce trends.
Discover new demand
Shoppers’ demand to browse and shop safely online is greater than ever as they spend less time shopping in physical stores. According to the research, 48 per cent of survey respondents in the UAE spent more time shopping online during the Ramadan and Eid season because of COVID-19. On average, shoppers in the UAE are 3x more likely to feel safer using mobile to shop than in-store. This year, brands must understand their audience’s needs and safety concerns when shopping online and on mobile, offering cross-border shoppers a frictionless experience throughout the entire purchase journey, both safely and conveniently.
Discover new opportunities
Ramadan is one of the biggest shopping moments of the year. Yet, most advertisers switch off spending during this time, based on the misapprehension that most people finish their Ramadan shopping early. People, however, are continually preparing their homes, meals and gifts for loved ones and are looking out for the best deals before and during the season. While 22 per cent of the UAE respondents started planning by March last year, about a month before celebrations started, only 13 per cent had completed their shopping when Ramadan actually started. The research also indicates that the periods just before Ramadan and Eid are the biggest shopping periods. Brands must plan ahead to stay relevant and prepared for these shopping peaks, reminding people of what they love by tapping into their preferences.
Discover bargain hunters
As the impact of COVID-19 is felt locally, shoppers are increasingly price-sensitive and look to Facebook for deals and inspiration. 64 per cent of the respondents in the UAE look to discover more bargains during Ramadan and Eid. This price sensitivity applies to essentials like food and beverages and clothing and gift items, making mega sales all the more important during Ramadan. The research also indicates that in the UAE, 60 per cent of the respondents said they use Facebook platforms for inspiration, research, and to discover new shopping ideas.