Fasting, giving and spending

This blog was written by Taylor Emerton, MultiConnexions Account Executive, and looks at the most important month in the calendar for Muslims in Australia and around the world.

For those of us who aren’t familiar with these major dates on the Islamic calendar, what are Ramadan and Eid?

For the estimated 1.8 billion Muslims around the world (Pew Research) , Ramadan and Eid are not only a time of celebration, but a time for prayer, food, festivities, charity and blessings.

Ramadan is a time for spiritual growth, self-reflection, compassion, prayer and avoiding immoral behaviour and anger. Fasting is another recognisable part of Ramadan, where no food or drink is allowed during sunlight hours for the whole month (yes, this includes water too).

The belief is that fasting encourages compassion and empathy for those less fortunate, where fasting is not a choice.

The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid ul Fitr, which means “festival to break the fast”. Eid begins at the first sight of a new moon, which is seen as a time to rejoice with family and friends and start afresh. At this time, Muslims will put on their best (and preferably new) clothes and gather to celebrate.

Eid is a time of plenty, as well as indulging in food (especially sweets). It is common for people to purchase and gift items such as new clothes, money and accessories (especially to children).

Now that we know what it is, why should marketers pay attention?

Food, gifting and charitable donations are the main categories where spending increases during Ramadan and Eid. Charity, otherwise known as Zakat, is particularly important because it is the third pillar (of five pillars) that make up the foundation of Islam. In some Muslim-majority places, purchases actually double during the month(Washington post)!This is because many people chose to host generous meals for friends, family and the wider community during the Holy Month.

Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion (Pew Research), with numbers substantially increasing in Australia. Many brands have overlooked Ramadan as an opportunity to recognise and send well-wishes to such a significant target audience and gain tremendous goodwill.

If you are going to make a start on Ramadan/Eid themed advertising to target the Muslim/ Arabic-speaking audience, it is critically important that marketing communications are culturally sensitive. It’s one of the most significant religious times in the Muslim calendar, so you need to make sure to be mindful and know your target audience. Engaging a professional agency is a great way to ensure sensitivities are adhered to and cultural testing is done with due rigour.

There are many opportunities for brands to get involved. For example, telcos often offer special rates for calling family overseas to wish them Ramadan Kareem, or clothing brands often highlight modest and culturally appropriate wear for Eid.

A good example of Ramadan advertising is from chocolate biscuit brand Oreos.

In a successful print advertisement, the brand used the iconic crescent-moon symbol that is associated with Ramadan (as the timing of Ramadan is dictated by the sighting of a new moon, in the ninth month of the lunar calendar). The moon image was used in relation to the ‘dunk it’ part of the Oreo eating process. Underneath the impactful image, there is a simple goodwill message of ‘Ramadan Kareem’, which means ‘blessed Ramadan’ along with the company logo. This is simple but highly impactful brand alignment as a snack of choice during the Holy Month and works very well for the audience.

Image Source: boydubai

Another great example of Ramadan marketing comes from Tang Arabia.

After the traditional dates, Tang and other sweet drinks are highly coveted items on the dinner table at Iftar, as hungry and thirsty Muslims seek to break their fast with a quick and hydrating energy boost. In this television commercial from Tang Arabia, this sentiment is tapped into along with the family spirit and emotion of Ramadan. Every Muslim can relate to the child!

It’s time for businesses to recognise the opportunities that Ramadan and Eid bring!

Are you interested in exploring marketing communications opportunities with Australia’s rapidly growing Muslim/ Arabic speaking audience? Contact MultiConnexions today.

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