Criteo has announced their latest research around ecommerce trends observed during Ramadan this year, which took place from 12 April to 12 May.
The second year in a row that Muslims are observing Ramadan under COVID-19 conditions, Criteo’s data revealed an uptick in indexed traffic and sales in Southeast Asia, when compared to the baseline.
Regional retailers saw a surge on 2 May, with a 26% increase in traffic and 21% increase in sales, respectively.
“As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions across our region, worshippers had to adjust their observance of the holy month of Ramadan. With social distancing measures deterring gatherings in large groups, consumers are rethinking their buying patterns, regarding areas such as gift giving,” explained Taranjeet Singh, Managing Director, Southeast Asia and India, Criteo.
“It is key that marketers and brands understand these shifts and engage consumers with what they need the most, especially during important observance.”
However, while the recent Ramadan season saw performance above its baseline, Criteo notes an underperformance when compared to last year’s Ramadan period.
A notable dip was also observed in the final week of the Ramadan period, with sales and traffic dropping below the baseline, may be indicative of consumer’s caution in spending amid the ongoing economic downturn.
Mobile and App purchases continue to rise
When making purchases during Ramadan, Southeast Asian consumers continued to use mobile and app platforms this year.
Specifically, mobile sales saw the largest lift throughout the Ramadan period this year, marking a 107% increase in sales at the end of the Ramadan period on 12 May. App sales also rose by 60%, earlier on 1 May.
Meanwhile, desktop sales saw the smallest spike of 40% during the second week of Ramadan period.
COVID-19’s Impact on Consumer preferences and behaviors during Ramadan
Comparing purchasing patterns during Ramadan pre-COVID, in 2019, and this year, Criteo data revealed that the growth in purchases this year have only been in two categories – Fashion/Luxury, and Mass Merchant 3 products. Criteo also found that the Fashion/Luxury category outperformed Mass Merchants during Ramadan, with a 50% increase from baseline from 23 April to 5 May.
In 2019, however, top product categories were in Health and Beauty, Electronics, Toys and Games as well as Home and Living. The trends observed this year are likely to be due to consumers not being able to commemorate Hari Raya in large social settings or house visitations, as a result of distancing measures.
Another distinct trend observed during Ramadan in previous years was a consistent rise in web traffic and sales for travel players. Before the COVID pandemic, prospective travelers usually searched travel websites during Ramadan, before making their bookings late in the month and after Ramadan, to make trips to celebrate Hari Raya with their family and friends. This was noticeably absent from this year’s data.
Ensuring successful customer engagements amid the continuing pandemic
With restrictions starting to ease, many customers in the region are able to access both in-store and online retail options, while adhering to social distancing measures.
Consumers are expected to continue alternating between online and in-store experiences throughout their shopping journey. It is key that marketers keep in mind the following strategies to see continued success with customer engagements:
Strengthen your omni-channel strategy
This will be key for marketers and brands to deliver seamless offline to online experiences. Ultimately, to build customer loyalty and drive long-term growth by driving customer lifetime value.
Develop meaningful promotions and ad messaging
While consumers remain price sensitive during this time, brands should prioritize connecting to the heart. For example, during observances like Ramadan, brands are encouraged to focus less on promoting the price, and more on the meaning of the season.
This can play an important role in whether consumers notice or respond to the ad or not.
Target the right audience or reconnect with consumers who have purchased in the past
By syncing CRM data, marketers should engage customers who previously have shopped with them, and provide them with personalized, relevant ads to compel purchases. Taking Ramadan as an example, shoppers are likely to be looking for things that help them observe Ramadan.
Before Ramadan, purchases in groceries, décor, and home goods are expected to rise, while gift purchases could happen as the holiday progresses