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Brands need a stronger mobile strategy this Ramadan

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are typically seen as seasons of contrast, associated with both austerity and celebration, personal reflection and a time to connect with the community. As smartphone penetration increases across Southeast Asia — these connections are increasingly made on mobile devices.

Based on analysis of data from SimilarWeb on downloads and engagement of Indonesia’s top 30 apps, it appears that cultural behaviours in real life are mirrored in how people use apps during the season.

Transport, food apps get busy
One of the biggest changes we’ve observed during the festival month is the significant shift in daily schedules with Indonesians downloading more entertainment and social apps during Ramadan. To fight off hunger pangs, Indonesians turn to social media, particularly YouTube, which sees a 15 per cent increase in video consumption during the holy month. On the platform and app, users are searching for everything from religious songs to TV series and popular music artists like Opick and Maher Zain .

The shift in people’s daily schedule during the fasting period also sees a dramatic increase in downloads and usage of transportation apps from the start of Ramadan. Much of this can be attributed to people wanting to get to their places of worship, or get home in time for Iftar, the time festival observers break their fast. Indeed, according to data from ride-sharing app Go-Jek, during the first weekend of Ramadan, travel coming from Jakarta’s most popular mosques jumped by a whopping 58 per cent.

The impact of Sahur (the meal before dawn), and Iftar cannot be understated. The pre-dawn meal is when food apps see a huge surge, with GO-FOOD reporting a 450 per cent jump in demand as people scour the app to make their meal selections . This also means that lunchtime rush hour demand drops by over 25 per cent. After Ramadan, as people start to return to their regular routine, downloads and usage drop back to pre-Ramadan levels.

On a shopping spree
Shopping, too, is high on everyone’s agenda in the run up to celebrations. Shopping apps see a major spike in both downloads and usage before and during the start of Ramadan, with both decreasing to level off nearer to Eid. Additionally, there is an increase in usage for shopping apps between 2am to 4am, as people prepare for Suhur – accounting for almost 6 per cent of usage of shopping apps in the month of June. According to research by Facebook, overall shopping also peaks in the Ramadan month, by as much as 27 per cent.

According to data from Google, the most popular shopping categories during this period were for clothing, travel and consumer electronics. A separate study by Facebook and Kantar reflects similar trends. In 2016, conversations around clothes, particularly those to be worn on Eid, came out on top while discussions on electronics revolved around TV, PlayStation and mobile phones.

What does this mean for mobile marketers?
These findings should matter to marketers who spend a big chunk of their ad budgets on Ramadan marketing. Mobile-first users are unique, and as such, marketers need to develop unique and effective strategies for the small screen. Here are our recommendations for brands to make the most of the seasonal ad blitz:

1) In general, planning for any seasonal campaigns need to consider user behaviors not just during Ramadan, but also the weeks before and after the fasting period. Given how people prepare for both Ramadan and Eid, it is important to consider these timings in addition to the actual season. Depending on your vertical, that will likely mean your Ramadan campaigns start in advance of Ramadan and/or extend beyond the period.

2) Given increase in downloads of entertainment apps increased during Ramadan, for campaigns targeting user acquisition should push for downloads before Ramadan begins. Marketers can consider a burst CPI (Cost-per-install) campaigns to get intensified results. By concentrating ad spend over a short period of time, you can get a swift burst of new users and boost your app’s ranking in the app store

3) eCommerce is the vertical most significantly impacted by Ramadan with apps growing both their number of downloads, and more importantly, their active user bases. E-commerce players can take advantage of this boost in activity by concentrating promotional activities in the weeks leading up to, and the beginning of, Ramadan. This is particularly true for e-commerce players in the clothing, travel and consumer electronics space. For brands that rely on delivery of items, there should also be an emphasis on delivering items before the end of Ramadan as a selling point for consumers.

4) For mobile campaigns that rely on daily timings, the spike of usage around Suhur is an opportunity to reach out to consumers. On a more granular level, campaigns that acknowledge this period would likely resonate more with users – for example, food delivery, transportation, or utility apps.

5) Lastly, the messaging and content for campaigns should address real world needs during the season. As people gear up to celebrate Eid with their loved ones, they are looking for services and products that help people make authentic connections with friends and family – like social media, photography and entertainment apps. With people visiting each other during Eid, products that also help people make their homes more inviting will also do well.

In conclusion, brands that are able to demonstrate their understanding of cultural nuances during this period will resonate with their target audiences and achieve higher business value during this festive period.

James Dutton

James Dutton is the Regional Managing Director, APAC for Mpire.