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Make this Ramadan a time for connection, inspiration and expression – by Snap’s Jake Thomas

A brand’s ability to demonstrate purpose and engage authentically is more crucial than ever this Ramadan says Snap’s Jake Thomas

By Jake Thomas, head of UAE market at Snap Inc

The notion of ‘community’ takes on even greater significance during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It’s a period when people truly come together, fuelled by the power of purpose and doing good. It’s also a time when brands hope to create more meaningful connections with their customers. So how do you thrive and effectively engage with communities during a time when consumer behaviours—and indeed their very expectations of brands—change so significantly?

We’ve seen that 2023 is the year that micro-communities and subcultures will dominate
the social landscape; both in real life and in the online world. Therefore, a brand’s ability to demonstrate purpose and engage authentically with these communities is more crucial than ever this Ramadan. 

To achieve this engagement, it starts by mapping where people are spending their time and what media they’re consuming while there. We know that Ramadan has long been a period when people consume more content on mobile. On Snapchat, for instance, we saw our community in MENA spending over 30 per cent more time enjoying Ramadan shows in 2021 than they did the previous year. The platform’s unique combination of features also made it the most used app at any point of the day during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia last year. 

Brands must not only identify the ideal place to reach their audiences at scale, but offer immersive and impactful experiences across the entire consumer journey. During Ramadan, we’ve found that consumers turn to the digital world to satisfy three needs in their community: connection, inspiration and expression. These are the territories where brands have the greatest opportunity to create impact.

The key to fostering connections is to authentically be a part of the Ramadan mood. Moments of celebration are more valued than ever as consumers seek light-hearted, genuine experiences rather than feeling pressured to present a perfect version of themselves. Brands have a chance to help consumers mark Ramadan by creating special memories that enhance connections with their real friends and family.

This is something we know a lot about. More than 89 per cent of Snapchat users say that the platform is where they share their most meaningful moments when celebrating. It’s where sincere exchanges between real friends and family are shared, thanks largely to the camera being a powerful tool for visual storytelling. This also makes Snapchat a special platform for brands to design meaningful connections with their audience – connections that are proven to last well
beyond Ramadan.

In addition to fostering connections, the most successful brands create a sense of inspiration during the Holy Month. Consumers have shown year-on-year that they seek inspiration for Ramadan celebrations and purchases well in advance of the month beginning. In fact, three out of four clothing and accessory purchases are planned at least a week in advance during the Holy Season. When it comes to luxury goods, this increases exponentially, with 50 per cent of luxury purchases planned one month in advance or longer.

In this period, consumers tend to lean into social communications platforms for product inspiration and trends whilst filling daytime hours. For instance, 87 per cent of our MENA community say that try-on AR lenses make them more likely to buy an item for a celebration. AR tools are also proven to help brands showcase products, push creative boundaries, drive sales and reduce returns during Ramadan.

Last but not least, brands should consider helping communities to fulfill a desire for self-expression throughout the month. Whether it is through the camera, chat, maps, stories or Spotlight, we’ve seen brands develop some truly creative campaigns that help people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world and have fun together.

Again, this is where technologies like AR take things to a whole new level. In the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, over 88 per cent of Snapchat users engaged with AR daily during Ramadan in 2020, on average. In our latest studies, nearly all (98 per cent) Snapchat users say that AR makes celebrations better, while 89 per cent say that they make celebrations more memorable and ultimately, shareable.

To sum it all up, brands in the region would do well to not only reassess where their micro-communities are congregating this Ramadan, but how to support their unique desires for connection, inspiration, and expression.