UAE - Retail sales are all set to pick up during the Holy Month of Ramadan, as resident across the UAE increasingly turn to online channels to stock up on essentials as well as gifts for their family and friends ahead of the Eid break.
Experts have identified several retail trends that will accelerate during the period leading up to the holiday such as shopping online for groceries, trying out new brands, and shopping for gift items.
Richard Nicoll, chief strategy and capability officer at Liquid Retail, noted that with 60 per cent of online shoppers planning to increase their spending across all sectors this Ramadan, it is essential for retailers to understand that consumers don’t just spend more during Ramadan; they spend differently.
“The holy month brings with it flexible working hours and the chance to get together with friends and family, leaving consumers with increased time and the need to shop,” he said. “This season is a unique time for brands to innovate and tap into this opportunity by offering shoppers cost effective and convenient deals such as buy-one get one free offers, discounted prices on bulk items and shopping vouchers which will not only drive sales and engagement this month, but encourage greater brand loyalty in the long-term.”
According to a recent survey by YouGov, 53 per cent of shoppers said they spend more, 40 per cent search for offers, and 49 per cent of consumers prefer discounts during Ramadan. YouGov's latest survey on UAE respondents’ Ramadan behaviour also revealed that 30 per cent are planning to shop online more this Ramadan, while 61 per cent are planning to shop for groceries in-store this Ramadan.
Nicoll added that grocery e-commerce is now well established, and in many cases, the preferred way to buy. “The new-found convenience and experience of grocery e-commerce aligned to the deals being offered on much-loved Ramadan favorite brands is likely to mean this is the most successful Ramadan for e-commerce platforms who are pouring marketing dollars into persuading shoppers to shop online – Noon Ramadan delivered being one example.”
“We’d expect to see marketers going with the power of shopper behavior and continuing to chase an uplift in Ramadan sales online,” he added. “To satisfy the needs of today’s customers and attract more this Ramadan, brands need to create to a holistic omni-channel retail strategy which covers all offline and online touch points and ensures a seamless shopping experience, anywhere, any time.”
Facebook IQ, Meta’s insights and research division, in partnership with YouGov, also unveiled the findings of a study conducted during Ramadan 2021, which showed that around 64 per cent of shoppers across the UAE get excited about trying new brands and products from abroad. In addition, 55 per cent of shoppers are more likely to purchase from abroad during Ramadan and Eid if adverts are about these key moments.
Fares Akkad, regional director for the Mena region at Meta, said: “Gifting and shopping is a big part of the Ramadan moment. The change in everyday habits leaves shoppers more open than usual to discovering new brands and products. This creates a unique opportunity for businesses to reach cross-border shoppers looking to discover products they’ll love – and Meta technologies can help build those connections.”
The research showed that people shop across borders for a variety of reasons, including to find a higher quality product, a product with a better price point, or a product that is unavailable locally. Roughly a third of people shop from overseas retailers as well, while more than 70 per cent make “unexpected discoveries” during Ramadan.
Buying from overseas during Ramadan, 62 per cent of UAE shoppers feel it is important to see content in their local language, while 27 per cent of shoppers agree that they find content creators most influential during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr as they help them discover new content and accounts that they might like.
Research conducted by AdColony, together with GlobalWebIndex, also offered several insights on user behavior during Ramadan. While the time spent on smartphones is increasing day by day, 44 per cent of respondents spend 1-3 hours online on their smartphones. The most preferred time to play mobile games and to shop online is during fasting through the day between 12pm to 6pm at 33 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
The research found that 77 per cent of participants will use their smartphones while shopping for Ramadan, while 67 per cent of them say that they will shop within the application. In addition, 47 per cent of respondents state that they will do shopping after Iftar time. When analysing industry-specific data, 45 per cent of users in the UAE will visit stores for their Ramadan grocery shopping, while 46 per cent of them will shop online and use home delivery.
The undeniable access to mobile advertising continues to stand out as the most important factor in consumers’ buying tendencies, with 66 per cent of the respondents stating that they had previously made Ramadan shopping with their smartphones directly via mobile ads; and 84 per cent stating that they would consider purchasing a product or service if the product served with the advertisement appeals to them.
“One of the most important things a brand must champion to succeed is relevance – and that goes for Ramadan too,” said Nicoll. “Brands should prioritise getting to know their target audience and which items hold cultural value to them so that they can streamline their efforts to provide impactful retail experiences and cut through the promotional noise.”
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