Eid Mubarak: Ramadan digital trends 2020

Eid Mubarak: 2020 Ramadan Digital Trends

Ramadan celebrates the most sacred month of the year for Muslims worldwide. From sunrise to sunset, worshippers focus on spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and community through fasting and prayer.

From one sighting of the crescent moon to the next, believers spend this time fasting, reflecting, and spending quality time with loved ones. The month-long celebration builds up to Eid al-Fitr, the 'Festival of Breaking the Fast,' a three-day holiday to mark Ramadan's end. This year, Eid al-Fitr falls on May 24.

The Ramadan Rush

While Ramadan is known for having a strict fasting schedule, it is also known for being a time of generosity.

Unsurprisingly, the term 'Ramadan Rush' was coined in the 21st century and immediately embraced by the retail sector. During Ramadan, people spend 41% more in the UAE. While in 2018, Southeast Asia saw a 52% uplift in sales, and sales increased by 80% in Indonesia.

Retail spending and online activity surge in the lead-up, during, and towards the end of the holy holiday. Ensure your customers know what you have in store for Ramadan. Keep them informed with SMS reminders, A2P messaging, and Email-to-Text solutions.


  • Before Ramadan begins, households stock up on supplies, plan visits to holy destinations like Mecca, and organize gifts for upcoming celebrations.


  • As Ramadan starts, daily fasting becomes the norm. Once the sun goes down, it is then time to eat and drink. People usually fill cafes and restaurants in the evening before sunrise, but amid the global pandemic, this has been restricted.


  • Toward the end of Ramadan, everyone begins preparing for Eid al-Fitr. This three-day-long festival celebrates the end of Ramadan. This typically includes feasting, gift-giving, and travel.

Shopping trends and spending behavior

Timing is everything

Every day during Ramadan, fasting commences at sunrise. Until sunset, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other worldly pleasures. This becomes daily practice throughout the holy month.

Iftar and suhoor are two key moments that drastically change the times in which people are active. Iftar is the first meal in the evening to break the fast, and suhoor is the predawn feed in which people eat their last meals before a new day of fasting. After satisfying the hunger, thirst, and exhaustion that comes with fasting, people tend to be more engaged and active. Particularly during the early hours of the morning.

Depending on where you are in the world, most Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries adapt business opening hours accordingly. For example, shopping malls and grocery stores shift their hours to open later in the day, usually from 12pm onwards, and close around midnight. Surprisingly though, 63% of people use their mobile devices during the day, compared to after iftar (27%) and during suhoor (10%).

By integrating SMS into your communication strategy, you can schedule messages to be sent out at the perfect moment. As well as set up keywords and trigger responses to ensure your customers aren't left waiting.

Throughout the year

With companies in the Middle East spending up to 65% of their yearly ad budget, Ramadan has been called "the advertising Super Bowl of the Arab world". According to Hellen Katherina, Media Business Head at Nielsen in Indonesia, the sheer volume of sales outstrips the rest of the year.

"Ramadan is the busiest time of the year for all marketers in Indonesia. Some brands spend 11 months of the year manufacturing products to be sold only in that one month," said Katherina.

Guiding the month-long celebration is fasting and food. The importance of iftar and suhoor is not just to break the fast and prepare for the next day, but also to spend time with loved ones and eat traditional dishes. Before Ramadan advertising took off, the woman of the house chose how to observe the month with the resources available.

Multicourse iftar meals that once took an entire day to prepare. Now, with promotional content at every turn and a vast range of options, households can instantly purchase ready-made meals delivered to their doorstep.

"Meals were all homemade and time-consuming, with lots of preparation," said Jordanian economic analyst and former minister of state for economic affairs, Jawad Anani. "With affordable home-cooked food now delivered to your door, consumer behaviors have changed, and the basket of goods has grown larger."

In 2019, it was reported that kitchen appliances had grown in popularity during the holiday for gift-giving purposes. There is a notable spike in YouTube content creation, with a 164% increase in videos reviewing small kitchen appliances and cooking recipes.

Statistics show that there is a seasonal surge in spending during Ramadan, and travel has always been a big contender. In the past, travel bookings increased by more than 30% throughout Ramadan, especially to holy destinations. This year that has completely changed. Due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, travel and border restrictions have been put in place, and public gatherings have been canceled.

Going Online

Online activity also spikes during Ramadan. Social media platforms, along with eCommerce apps, are the most popular among mobile users.

AdColony's survey about mobile usage throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during Ramadan reported that 62% of respondents say they spend more time on their smartphones. Despite an abundance of apps dedicated to OTT messaging, SMS remains the most popular, accessible, and reliable messaging service.

Social media

Popular social media platforms receive an increase in traffic during Ramadan:

eCommerce apps

Research shows that purchasing behavior and spending habits change, as 53% of shoppers spend more, 40% search for offers, and 49% prefer discounts during Ramadan.

Throughout this holy period, eCommerce apps are a clear favorite, recording a 34% increase in sessions, and a 63% rise in revenue events compared to the previous month. Business apps, such as banking, also experienced a peak of sessions, up 65% compared to the monthly average. So it's no surprise that 82% of Ramadan shoppers use their smartphones for online retail, and 51% of Ramadan shoppers prefer to purchase in-app.

How has COVID-19 affected Ramadan?

Bloomberg's Ian Fisher said, "as Jews, Muslims and Christians enter one of the holiest times of the year, with Easter, Ramadan and Passover all celebrated this month, leaders of these religions with ancient roots find themselves giving thanks to the internet. With roughly half the world locked down, keeping the holidays communal will be a struggle."

Breaking the fast

This year, Muslims observe the opportunity to celebrate Ramadan online. Arranging virtual iftar with family and friends on video calls and responding to a live call to prayer online.

In preparation for Ramadan during COVID-19, it has been important for households to switch to digital solutions when they may not have previously. Google reported that grocery delivery app downloads went up by 86% in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE during the third week of March, compared to the previous week.

Traditional food and cultural events throughout the holy month, such as Eid al-Fitr, will also have to accommodate for changes during the global pandemic. While video calls are not the same as being physically present, it is a welcome substitute until restrictions lessen. A way for the community to connect and loved ones to share meaningful moments.

Spiritual nourishment

Along with personal reflection, sermons and lectures are a large part of spiritual growth during Ramadan. Due to the closures of mosques and other community venues, similar efforts have been afforded to provide remote offerings through live video, as with prayer and iftar.

Marketing and the Economy during Ramadan

While the global pandemic has put the economy at risk, human lives and maintaining overall health is much more vital. Most industries ordinarily flourish during Ramadan, but this year businesses are struggling, particularly in retail, hospitality, and tourism.

What was once the norm, such as attending mosque, visiting loved ones, or going shopping at the mall, is now unheard of. This has dramatically affected how people interact with one another, and in turn, how they interact with brands.

Digital solutions have been a godsend during this uncertain time, popular in every industry as well as for personal use. In particular, online advertising, SEO, and eCommerce platforms have boomed under the circumstances.