Ramadan; it’s not about consumption

Fireside chats are a series of interviews in which OMG Ethnic – the multicultural marketing division within Omnicom Media Group- meet people within our network to understand how community impacts media consumption. These interviews are a way to define the personal impact of community & culture on behaviour and translating this as brand opportunities. 

Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar, which sees the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world – 3 million+ in the UK – partaking in a month-long spiritual detox, they also fast – not consuming any food/ drink while the sun is up.

It is quickly becoming a noteworthy date on the retail calendar, as the UK is home to 3.37million Muslims (ONS, 2018), and this impacts their daily life, and inevitably their consumption.

Several examples of this are highlighted well by bigger supermarkets, each have their own comms, and other smaller brands are not far behind in tapping into the £2 billion Muslim economy and the £200 million Ramadan economy While these numbers on the macro are mesmerising, it is important when talking to any community, to take into account the micro.

We sat down with Diamond – a junior strategist in our Omnicom Family, to discuss how Ramadan impacts her day, month, life, and also what brands seem to be missing in this month. 

“My average day in Ramadan; I wake up for suhoor, this is the early dawn meal, and this is the meal that will sustain me for the day. Then I pray. After that, I sleep, wake up and get ready for the day.

My day is punctuated by prayers. There are 2 throughout the day, and the fourth is Maghrib – (sunset). This is when I break my fast. This is the time for the substantial meal.

After the meal, there is usually a fight about who is doing the dishes. As usual, my mother cooks an abundance of food. This and any left-over food is packed, then distributed to neighbours and to others in the community. The rest is then taken along with us to the local mosque.

This is our way of doing our best to make it a communal experience.

After the mosque. We return home, and I continue trying to avoid the dishes.

These hours are downtime. This small window of opportunity before bedtime is my time to have a social media catch up- as there is typically an attempt at a detox throughout the day. This is the time I am feeling full and at peace. I spend it reflecting on what I’ve done throughout the day.

This is also the time where I wish there were opportunities or physical spaces of which we could take advantage. So much of observing Ramadan happens at home/ and places of worship. There is no other evidence outside of those 2 things.”

This explanation is akin to celebrating Christmas without the Christmas displays. Diamond goes on to summarise:

“Forging communities is what this festival is about. Food just happens to be a part of it. This is a month of being altruistic. To give wherever possible.”

Muslims are obliged to donate 2.5% of their wealth to those who are in need during Ramadan. Because of this, Muslims in the UK donated £100million in Ramadan 2016 alone, or £38/second.

“It is easy with the pace of our lives to forget to give to community and colleagues.

This month is a reminder that everything you do can be an act of goodness. It can be simple things, like complimenting your co-worker or and celebrating a friend. These are all acts in the same vein.”

Ramadan is seen as a month of self-betterment, many in the community set out their intentions and goals – like a personality detox.

“Let’s not talk about Ramadan in the light of consumption. Ask me about what I want to achieve with Ramadan. Ramadan is not about food, it is about well-being.”

“There’s now an expectation that the supermarkets will celebrate Ramadan with me, but we need to start to develop beyond just the food. Ramadan massively impacts my usual consumption routine, nothing happens after eating and praying.”

Diamond, along with many others are part of a much more conscious consumer base, looking into the ethics of the brands they buy into as well as the products supply chain, labour chain, etc. But being a more ethnical brand that understands the consumer base is not just for the FMCG sector.

“This is a huge opportunity that health and wellness brands can tap into. Or brands with physical spaces that can offer a space for light cardio classes after a full meal and a busy day.

If a meditation app like Headspace could connect our spiritual life with acts of self-care/ group-care, that would be fantastic. Going slightly beyond ‘self-care’ as Ramadan does, and align a little more to ‘community care’.  This is synonymous throughout the whole of Ramadan.

This is a call for brands to have a more nuanced idea of what Ramadan means to people. Rather than focusing on the one thing Muslims are abstaining from, brands can connect to the multitude of things that we are doing.”

“It is a time for brands to step up and give in recognition. So much of ensuring that something resonates is in knowing who you are talking to.”

Ensuring that your message resonates with this community is imperative in this special month and could have a huge impact for the rest of the year if done correctly.

Have an idea for a client on how you would bridge the gap between your client and the consumer? Get in touch with us at OMG Ethnic.

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About Author

Saffana Monajed

Saffana works at OMG Ethnic, focusing on multicultural and community marketing and consultancy across Omnicom Media Group. Saffana is interested in finding out about what makes communities come together and how common threads lead to patterns in media consumption.

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