As the world continues to face the significant challenges that the pandemic has been throwing our way, governments are still trying to fight back by implementing strict measures. Economies are among the most hit sectors globally and the pandemic still continues to further its distress. Retailers have been greatly hit, especially during high seasons, like Ramadan and Christmas, when lockdowns and curfews were in place. And now that Ramadan is just around the corner, what will that mean for retailers and consumers?
The holy month of Ramadan is an important month for retailers in the MENA region. And with the pandemic introducing many restrictions, many are turning to online shopping. Therefore, it is imperative for retailers to adopt and adapt to these changes in consumer behavior.
We all know that Ramadan is all about spending time with family and friends, doing good deeds and charity work. Which means that it might be smarter for retailers to start engaging their audience with campaigns or messages that enriches the spirit of giving even before Ramadan starts.
According to Facebook, many shoppers in MENA countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt start planning purchases for Ramadan weeks before. Starting early will also give retailers an insight on who their target audience is and whether they are going in the right direction or not. An early start will also open the doors for brands to be creative and think outside the box.
The pandemic has also opened the doors for different ways of shopping, which is a pivotal point for retailers to consider. With lockdowns being implemented in many countries during Ramadan 2020, users in the MENA region spent more than 50% of their time using online entertainment. Ramadan 2020 also witnessed the highest online shopping rates in the MENA, that it even exceeded online shopping during Black/White Friday.
Not only that, but google also reports that 68% and 61% of users in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, respectively, watched more ads than the year before. In addition, in a time when people are spending most of their time on their phones, it is important that retailers invest in creating websites and campaigns that are mobile optimized. 70% of users in UAE and 69% of users in Saudi Arabia rely on Facebook and Instagram, respectively, for gift ideas.
Social media is powerful and many people nowadays opt to follow recommendations given by influencers, it is even reported that 79% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if it was recommended on social media. Which only comes to prove that campaigning at the right time in the right place is crucial for the success of retailers in these uncertain times. For instance in UAE, SAWA, a pre-Ramadan exhibition, was created to support brands at a nominal cost during these unprecedented times. Such innovative initiatives can help brands and retailers get through the pandemic.
“We started this initiative because we felt the impact of the pandemic on businesses first hand and we hope that we can support the ecosystem however we can and inspire others to do the same.” - Ghizlan Guenez, Co-creator of SAWA initiative
“People often forget about the power of coming together to collectively support one another, and we are about to remind ourselves and them with that splendor.” - Salama Khalfan, Co-creator of Sawa Initiative
In a nutshell, it is important for retailers to be able to keep up with the digital trends that are taking over the world right now. In order to stay in the game and not be left behind, it is time for retailers to move to e-commerce and make use of the digital world.
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