Elevating Ramadan Retail: Top Strategies for GCC Retailers

March 20, 2024

Retail has transformed significantly in recent years, with retailers aggressively adopting online and offline marketing strategies to reach consumers whose expectations have soared. During the holy month of Ramadan, retailers must gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior during this period and tailor their strategies accordingly to capitalize on the unique opportunities it presents. With 64% of Muslims spending more in Ramadan in 2023, this period presents a significant opportunity for retailers.

Based on decades of experience and success in a highly dynamic GCC retail sector, GMG experts share top strategies that retailers can consider as we look forward to a unique cultural and religious month-long experience.

#1: Conduct Market Research, Analyze Consumer Behavior

Before embarking on any Ramadan campaign, retailers should invest in comprehensive market research and in-depth consumer behavior analysis. This foundational step is pivotal for crafting a successful marketing strategy, as it provides invaluable insights into consumers' evolving needs, preferences, and purchasing patterns during the holy month. By leveraging data-driven insights, retailers can anticipate emerging trends, identify potential pain points, and develop targeted solutions that resonate with their target audience.

#2: Align Product Offerings with Consumer Needs

With a deep understanding of consumer behavior, retailers should meticulously assess their product offerings to ensure they meet the specific needs and expectations of consumers during Ramadan. For instance, our Everyday Goods – Retail division introduced its Ramadan campaign, 'A Ramadan of Firsts,' acknowledging how consumers perceive this month as a time for exploration, whether it's trying new recipes or embracing novel ways to celebrate. Thus, retailers may consider highlighting products that facilitate fasting, foster community gatherings, or enrich the overall Ramadan experience. Notably, data indicates a 19x surge in consumers' interest in Iftar special recipes during this period, underscoring the importance of showcasing relevant cooking products.

Moreover, retailers can capitalize on increased consumer spending during Ramadan by offering enticing Ramadan-themed deals and promotions, as 86% of regional consumers believe Ramadan is the optimal time to find great deals. Following this premise, our Everyday Goods- Retail division rolled out discounts as part of its Ramadan campaign. Additionally, consumers exhibit greater receptiveness to trying new products and supporting local businesses during Ramadan. In fact, 78% of respondents in the Middle East expressed eagerness to explore new brands during their Ramadan shopping.

Finally, businesses can use this time to show appreciation to customers, fostering connections and a sense of community.

#3: Leverage Data-Driven Insights

Point of sale, logistics, and customer feedback offer valuable insights for retailers, revealing data-driven trends in consumer behavior during Ramadan. These insights shed light on spending patterns, emerging preferences, and the influence of cultural and religious factors on purchasing decisions, ultimately helping retailers optimize their product assortments and create targeted marketing campaigns.

With 3 in 10 regional consumers switching to cheaper brands or retailers this year, particularly in the food and groceries sector due to increasing inflation and global uncertainty, having insights on price sensitivity becomes vital.

#4: Promote Holistic Well-being

The pursuit of well-being has taken significant prominence in the post-COVID era. This is elevated during Ramadan when customers prioritize health and wellness, leading to increased purchases of health supplements and fitness products.

For example, at GMG, our divisions are aligned with our company's core belief in promoting holistic well-being. We actively encourage maintaining physical activity during Ramadan, even amidst fasting and altered routines. For instance, our home-grown brand, Sun & Sand Sports, aims to inspire families to bond through shared activities during Ramadan. Additionally, our Health & Beauty Division promotes multivitamins, supplements, wellness products and free BMI checks at its stores to address common challenges like dehydration and fatigue. We are also keen to emphasize healthy cooking options, such as air-fried recipes.

#5: Embrace Cultural Sensitivity

Ramadan is a profoundly culturally and religiously significant period, and retailers must approach their marketing campaigns with the utmost sensitivity and respect. This includes adhering to appropriate color palettes, creative designs, and messaging honoring Islamic beliefs and traditions in stores and digital platforms. Collaborating with local cultural experts can ensure that marketing efforts resonate with the target audience while avoiding accidental offense or misrepresentation.

#6: Engage Customers Across Channels

To truly captivate consumers during Ramadan, retailers should leverage a multi-channel approach, seamlessly integrating online and offline marketing channels. In-store activations, such as festive decorations and Iftar box giveaways, can create an immersive and celebratory atmosphere, fostering a sense of community and shared experiences. Simultaneously, leveraging online channels, including social media platforms, e-commerce platforms, and messaging apps, can facilitate convenient shopping experiences and promote engagement through educational content, influencer collaborations, and interactive campaigns. This aligns with 83% of consumers searching for spiritual inspiration, while 78% watching cooking content, gift ideas, and how-to videos during this period.

#7: Seizing the Opportunities

With 46% of consumers increasing their gifting budget for Ramadan in 2023 compared to last year, offering attractive gifting options becomes essential. Additionally, 50% of Muslims plan to travel to their hometown during Ramadan, providing retailers opportunities to cater to travel-related needs.

By implementing these comprehensive strategies, retailers can effectively prepare for Ramadan's unique opportunities and challenges. By connecting with consumers on a deeper level, respecting cultural traditions, and promoting overall well-being, retailers can foster positive shopping experiences that resonate with the spirit of the holy month, ultimately driving customer loyalty and business growth.