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Industry Forum: Will this Ramadan’s marketing be more digitally focused than last years?

We asked: Will this Ramadan’s marketing be more digitally focused than last years?

Asad Rehman

Director, media and digital hubs MENA, Turkey and Russia, Unilever


Covid did make us a lot more digital than we ever were, but then this Ramadan is also one where we will see the physical interactions come back after more than two years. The digitisation will likely continue
to have an impact on consumer shopping and media habits, but I also sense people venturing out of home this year more than they did in the past two. So, while I do expect a continued uplift in groceries and food e-commerce around convenience. I also sense physical retail marginally kicking back in for beauty, fashion and luxury – just because we can. Fingers crossed.

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Khaled AlShehhi

Executive director of new media and visual production, UAE Government Media Office


The big difference this year is the relaxation of restrictions, thanks to
the vaccine take-up and the less virulent strain of the virus. This means that, while the stronger digital behaviours adopted in the last couple of years still point to a hybrid Ramadan, we can expect to see a Holy Month experienced more in the real world. Whether it’s gatherings, collective experiences or significant moments, people will want to live them in 3D because ‘real life’ makes these moments more significant.

Marwa Kaabour​

Group marketing & corporate communication manager, Al Masaood


For certain we will see higher digital engagement this Ramadan. As the region continues to grow in population and urbanisation, with year-on-year growth in digital spend, we anticipate more engagement on the social platforms. It is expected to see a spike in user-generated content and an increase in mobile ads and gamification as time spent on devices will be on the rise.


Julie Caironi

Regional head of marketing, Snap Inc. MENA


While the easing of Covid this Ramadan is a welcome relief to all, we must remember that a lot has happened over the last two years. People have exponentially turned to digital platforms to connect, share meaningful moments and celebrate together. Consumer behaviour has fundamentally shifted. Marketeers must adapt to these changes to find consumers where they really are. In particular, brands can break through the clutter by bridging the physical and digital worlds, maximising their media effectiveness. This includes leading with authentic communication and immersive experiences across the entire consumer journey. Not all digital platforms are created equal, so developing a strategy through this lens will help marketers to focus their efforts and reignite Ramadan this year.

Ramy El Kassis

Sales director, Digital Media Services (DMS)


Marketing is surely slated to be more digitally focused this Ramadan, with the consumption of VOD and other digital entertainment content peaking around the region. Digital platforms enable two-way communications with consumers. This helps brands to create personalised connections, stand out and become part of the culture. Be it video, audio, content initiatives or even display ads, brands need to establish a strong bond to ensure that their messages resonate within the context of the Holy Month, regardless of where the consumer stands in the funnel. This compels brands to embrace a full-funnel approach, along with measurement.

Samer Akhter

Marketing director, ArabyAds


The Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the most anticipated months in the region, a period of devotion, compassion and community engagement.

The last two years have strengthened the digital inertia of consumers, and the need to access, express, and even interact with the community digitally has increased. This digital adoption creates ‘micro-moments’ during both the day and the month, increasing consumption of spiritual content, entertainment, cooking, home decor searches, gifting and even impulsive online buying closer to Eid. Community shopping takes precedence over shopping for an individual, giving rise to the ‘shopping shift’.

These changes build use cases for marketers on a massive scale. Since digital is a win-win for both, where consumers get relevant recommendations based on their affinities, and marketers measure and operate at scale, a higher digital focus is the way forward.

John Ekambi

Digital and partnership director, Carat


It goes without saying that the region (as the rest of the world) has witnessed an accelerated adoption and consumption of digital platforms and content in the last couple of years. This was equally driven by brands and consumers and shows no signs of slowing down.

The abundance of newly created digital content across video, social and audio, and the increased volume of e-commerce-ready brands coupled with online consumers eager to spend more during Ramadan, create an ideal mix for brands to be more digitally focused this year.

Marc Ghosn

Managing director, Wavemaker UAE

Yes & No

A customer-centric approach dictates where brands should be present and how they should communicate with their audience.

Ramadan is a period when families get together to celebrate and share moments. This usually happens around flag ship TV programmes. This is the reason why we have seen digital-native companies such as Hunger Station, Talabat, Amazon and Noon advertise on TV.

Digital caters towards more individual and personal moments. So, a mix of both TV and digital is needed to build the brand message and drive the lower funnel.

Professor Paul Hopkinson

Associate head of Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University Dubai and academic lead for Heriot-Watt Online


I believe that marketing this year will be more digitally focused than last year. In the past two years, the pandemic induced changes in consumer behaviour, some of which are here to stay. One of these changes is the
fact that consumers are resorting to online shopping for their convenience rather than out of necessity as they did in the past. It is noteworthy that Ramadan generally witnesses an increased consumption of online content as people’s work timings change and as they look to connect with loved ones. Marketing technologies have certainly become smarter, but so have consumers. However, what is key is that marketers should aim for meaningful connections with their consumers.

Nigel Hammersley

Digital director and head of social media, MullenLowe MENA


It makes sense based on consumption, reach and cost, but that also comes with a caveat. Over the past two years there has been an accelerated adoption rate of digital. Overall time spent online has increased and new behaviours have been adopted and normalised. Online is where people are spending their time and attention, across all varieties of digital platforms.

But with brands all competing for audiences’ share of the social feed during this time, it’s important not to be lost in the noise. Brands need to stand out with communications that bring them an unfair share of attention.

Laila Omran

Client partner, Twitter MENA


Ramadan 2022 is likely to display a continuation of a primary trend seen in marketing over the last two years; the gradual rise in flexibility for in-person gatherings and celebrations, combined with a stronger appetite to share special moments online and discover what brands have to offer at this time of year. Twitter will continue to play a central role during Ramadan, while it highlights the unique relationship that exists between broadcast and the platform, with conversations around Ramadan TV shows expected to be prominent.
In turn, this will create great opportunities for marketers looking to make an impact and engage with their audiences during a significant cultural moment in the region and beyond.

Scott Feasey

CEO, M&C Saatchi GCC


It’s not a reactive pandemic phenomenon or a trend riding an upward wave any more. With an estimated 76 per cent of people habitually spending more time and money online over previous Ramadans, it’s become a way of life for consumers and a must-have, effective tactic for marketers.

Whatever is offline is enriched online and needs to be on-demand across shopping, entertainment, education, connections, etc.

Digital enables brands to reach audiences efficiently and effectively with ROIs 1.5 times higher than traditional media. So yes, it will be more digitally focused this year.

Richard Nicoll

Chief strategy and capability officer, Liquid


The fact is that it’s now impossible to separate digital marketing from marketing, so we can be certain that all planned offline activity will be supported by a digital pillar. This is especially true in commerce.

Whilst it could be expected to see an uplift in in-store activity for Ramadan 2022, compared with the previous pandemic-affected years, e-commerce is now a well-established and, in many cases, preferred place in which to buy. So, at Liquid we are seeing marketers going with the power of the shoppers and continuing to chase their Ramadan sales uplift, online.

Jochen Bischoff

Head of consumer business partnerships, ByteDance METAP


Consumers have adopted digital-first behaviours in a post-pandemic era.
In Ramadan, the consumer will look for an uninterrupted entertainment experience. Festive gatherings, meals, and celebrations bear no room for marketers to overlook Ramadan destinations providing tips, infotainment and edutainment – without watching ads.

The days of pure reliance on reach to generate ROI are in the past. Triggering joy through creators, creativity, and entertainment increases relevance in marketing. The value of these genuine consumer connections will lead to higher digital focus in Ramadan 2022. Ramadan Kareem.

Branislav Ilic

E-commerce and performance marketing director, Havas Media Middle East


Definitely Yes. With the shift in user behaviour and increasing requirements from audiences to get a personalised experience from brands, this can only be achieved digitally. Brands which are more digitally focused during Ramadan will be able to target more precisely in order to get more meaningful outcomes from potential customers, and this will positively affect their results in the long term well beyond Ramadan.

Cutting through the clutter during Ramadan is getting harder each year, so a precise data-driven targeting approach will ensure the right message reaches the right person at the right time and will also allow brands to deepen the relationship with their buyers, increasing their customer lifetime value in the long run.