How can businesses find a more meaningful role during Ramadan? By Instinctif Partners MENA

How can companies engage with audiences to align their values with the Holy Month, without undermining the spiritual significance of the season?

By Instinctif Partners MENA

Brand perception is critical to a business’ ability to prosper in a competitive market. If used effectively, perception can be a driver for growth. The perception consumers have of a business, its purpose and its value influences purchasing behaviors. While the objectives of most businesses’ Ramadan campaigns are to raise awareness of activity during the Holy Month, they do need to understand and embody the core values that Ramadan represents for those who participate, rather than treating it simply as a commercial opportunity, as has been the fate of so many religious festivals around the world.

By delivering messaging and initiatives that revolve around the core pillars of Ramadan – giving, reflection and community – businesses can drive engagement and bring value to the environments they exist in. Ramadan is a time where many look to give their time, money and energy to others, and they expect companies to do the same. According to a 2020 Facebook-commissioned YouGov survey, 75% of those who observe Ramadan believe that businesses should, in some way, participate in CSR initiatives, with 60% noting that they would be more interested in a brand that does so. In recent years, Saudi Arabia’s Alwaleed Philanthropies launched a campaign that aimed to reduce the prevalence of begging and poverty during Ramadan, encouraging donors to support those that were unemployed and those afflicted by substance abuse. The campaign spread a message of generosity and togetherness, fitting closely with many of the tenets that Muslims associate with the Holy Month.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an even greater expectation for businesses to offer their support, with many having to adjust priorities and projects accordingly. Organisations can turn to their local communities and find smaller, niche causes that are aligned with their core values, all whilst encouraging others to participate in their endeavors to give back. This year, UAE telecom giant du launched a community-centric campaign that epitomises the values of Ramadan. Under the theme ‘Sharing for Good’, du is supporting the small business community across its social media channels, showcasing the talent of small business owners while driving impactful social contributions.

Partnerships are also impactful, with the Middle East having seen a sharp rise in the impact that online influencers and digital content creators have on their audiences, particularly during the holidays, when their content experiences spikes in viewership. Influencers cultivate fan bases that can grow into close-knit communities. They also cultivate a feeling of unity, which can be used as a vehicle to speak directly to the principles of Ramadan.

Creative content is another avenue for organisations to capture the essence of Ramadan, unlocking potential for a business’ messaging to build brand equity. An effective method of demonstrating a brand’s understanding of the Holy Month is to integrate Ramadan-based visual elements into infographics or animated films, combining brand identity with the iconography of Ramadan, and focusing on important and purpose-oriented issues. Presenting information visually offers the opportunity of more impactful interaction with target audiences, and allows organisations to more closely associate their own social agenda with that of other Muslims who are observing the Holy Month.

The question that an organisation must ask when building its Ramadan campaign is simple: does this campaign genuinely reflect the principles of Ramadan, and does it relate to our own vision to be a force for good in the community? If the answer to either part of the question is “no”, it is likely to miss the target.