By Dima Zaytoun, business lead – strategy at Zenith Media
Ramadan, a month of spiritual renewal, food, generosity, and compassion, is a pivotal moment for many industries, especially the food and beverage industry. But in a sea of formulaic and over-saturated advertising, how do brands stand out and connect with consumers on a deeper level?
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AUTHENTICITY AND CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
One effective way for brands to participate in Ramadan is by aligning their messaging and advertising with the values and themes of the month. For example, promoting healthy and nourishing food options for suhoor and iftar or highlighting products that encourage giving and charitable acts. Brands that can connect with consumers emotionally and show that they understand and appreciate the cultural significance of Ramadan are likely well-received.
EVOLVING FOOD TRENDS
The food choices during Ramadan are evolving, with a trend towards indulgent comfort, elevated desserts and a newfound love for baking. Sustainability is also becoming a priority, with a rise in upcycling leftovers and a growing demand for natural and plant-based products. Brands that can tap into these trends and offer real value to consumers will win during this special time. Since Ramadan is a time for unique dishes, brands can consider highlighting traditional dishes specific to the holiday, like ‘sambousek’, and merge them with healthier choices, for example, air-fried instead of deep-fried. Another example is homemade bread has become a popular choice for suhoor, a time that brands are currently exploring, but that is still less saturated than iftar, where rich and nutrient-packed food is in high demand.
OPTIMISING RECIPE AND COOKING CONTENT
Food recipes remain at the centre of communication during Ramadan. Yet, brands should find new ways to deliver them to consumers as they want to make delicious but also quick and uncomplicated recipes. Today the appetite for simpler yet indulgent and creative recipes is increasing yearly; it is evident in Google search trends. Saudi women are still passionate about cooking but want to do it in less time, as they also want to indulge in other personal activities. So, they want to watch shorter videos, cook simpler recipes with shorter preparation time, and consume the content on their favourite platforms and preferred formats. We saw brands adapting and innovating on this front by creating brand experiences through a digital kitchen or using influencers and original content creators.
ENGAGING CAMPAIGNS FOR NEW PERSONAS
In the post-Covid world, new audience personas have emerged during Ramadan, such as ‘The Escapist’, ‘The Progress Seeker’ and ‘The Shopper’ (source: ThinkwithGoogle), to name a few. To increase penetration, brands should offer more than just food-related experiences and aim to create well-rounded, engaging campaigns that also focus on personal experiences during Ramadan. By combining food content and content that focuses on an individual’s personal experience during Ramadan, a food brand can create a meaningful campaign that truly resonates with consumers.
EVOLVING MEDIA CONSUMPTION HABITS
The ever-changing media landscape leading to fragmentation of screens, broken attention, and message overload has influenced TV viewing. The average ratings in KSA and UAE have dropped double digits over the last five years. However, in Ramadan, large audiences across the region are attentive to the content and commercials, making it an ideal opportunity to build brand saliency and memory structures. Ramadan television is a space where quality content and considerable spend is still untouchable.
Online shopping rapidly increases during Ramadan, with 76 per cent of consumers buying more frequently and groceries being the most popular category, emphasising the need for businesses to provide an optimal online shopping experience.
Over the past two years, countless communities have been shaped online and will continue to grow; brands should find ways to be part of the growing online community and keep the relationships they have built with creators online.
Moreover, search results for entertainment have risen by 60 per cent compared to the previous year, online gaming has increased by 107 per cent, and podcast listenership has skyrocketed by 92 per cent. This shift in consumer behaviour provides an opportunity for brands to differentiate by tapping into these evolving trends and connect with consumers further.
BUILDING GENUINE CONNECTIONS
It’s important to note that while Ramadan is a time of increased consumer activity, it’s not just about increasing sales but about building genuine connections with consumers and being a positive force in the community. Brands that can strike this balance, such as Vimto, which has become synonymous with Ramadan, will be the ones that come out on top during this momentous occasion.
In conclusion, Ramadan presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level, and with the rise of AI, brands that take advantage of this technology will be able to reach their target audience more effectively, maximise engagement, and deliver personalised content that resonates. AI-powered chatbots, predictive analytics, and agile content are just a few examples of how brands can harness the power of AI during this critical season.
Let’s challenge ourselves, as marketers, to prove the impact that advertising can have when it aligns with what people are interested in, rather than merely interrupting them.