Starting 5th May 2019, Muslims worldwide fast during daylight hours until 6th June. For the unaware, during the day, participants refrain from eating and drinking, but after sundown, they dress up, meet family and friends and get a bite to eat.
While many brands stick to simply posting friendly Ramadan greetings on social media, some, detailed below, have done more to reach out, tastefully, to those fasting and meet special needs during the month. And with more than 18 billion MYR (US$4bn) spent during Ramadan in Malaysia, we’ll look at some tips for marketers whose brands are active in the region.
Snickers Malaysia took a different approach to the holiday and instead of pushing its chocolate bars, sought to promote understanding among its diverse ethnic population.
In a short video, The Shift Switch, Snickers dramatized a situation in which a non-Muslim took on extra work on behalf of her Muslim colleague so that she could break fast with her family.
With more than 900k views on YouTube alone (and more on Facebook), the video inspired a movement in the country which inspired many, including local celebrities, to show their support to the Muslim community by doing the same.
Through Ramadan in 2018, McDonalds Malaysia changed how they deployed their Google Ads. According to Think with Google, instead of keeping them the same through the fasting month, Google stopped showing ads through most of the daylight hours.
Starting at 3pm, though, when ‘dinner research’ starts in the Muslim Malay community, McDonalds bid heavily for phrases related to ‘buka puasa’ or ‘break fast’ in local language.
The ads then featured a countdown timer to sundown along with offers on special Ramadan food favorites alongside a download link for the local McDelivery app.
Google reports that these seasonal tactics boosted McDonald’s ad clickthrough rate by 20%, decreased the cost-per-click by 50% and provided 87% of the company’s new site visits for the month.
While celebratory eating is a theme of Ramadan, the celebration at the end of the fasting month, Hari Raya, is traditionally spent visiting relatives.
In sympathy for young Malaysians who face intrusive questions from nosy relatives, telecoms provider Telekom Malaysia (TM) produced a short video, Iklan Raya TM 2018, which showed the perils of family visits as well – as well as the benefits of keeping in touch with far-away relatives through using its network.
With more than 500,000 views on YouTube, TM tastefully connected its brand with many holiday celebrants as well as encouraging young Malaysians to value the family time the holiday brings.
So, what should marketers do for Ramadan in 2019?
Instead of trying to copy these brands, marketers are encouraged to look at the wealth of information online about Ramadan in Malaysia and carefully consider how their brand fits in.
Facebook provided a detailed guide to shopping habits during the period in both Malaysia and Indonesia as well as tips on how to structure a campaign over the month.
Google, too, covered the holiday in a blog post from 2018 and detailed a ‘day in the life of a Muslim’ during Ramadan – including both spiritual and material needs over the holiday.
Additionally, Google provided an updated guide for 2019 – Winning Ramadan in Malaysia with Digital – which offers additional case studies as well as information on data sources which will help marketers target niche audiences.
Finally, marketers aiming to reach out to the Muslim community in Malaysia during Ramadan should thoroughly research the holiday in order to both appreciate the cultural sensitivities and stand a better chance of producing a campaign which, like the ones above, were genuinely appreciated by the local community.