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Close up: Ramadan travel and shopping habits in MENA

The moon sighting committee in the Arab world announced Monday June 6 as the first day of Ramadan.


During Ramadan, life patterns of residents of Muslim countries shift drastically, as working hours and meal timings change, and other elements of daily life switch as well.


This prompts all of the brands, from food producers to retailers and restaurants, to try and understand consumer behaviour during Ramadan, in order to best leverage it.


Leading market research firm YouGov has revealed the findings of its latest consumer research survey to help understand how people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE – three of the biggest regional markets – will behave during Ramadan.


Shopping habits


More than half of the consumers in the three countries are expected to spend more during Ramadan.


A whopping 93 per cent expect to increase their spending specifically on household items like food, beverages and groceries.


When it comes to shopping habits, consumers are more likely to buy regularly than in bulk, especially for food-related items. Therefore, price offers and discounts are regarded as the most appealing promotions.


All of these attractive promotions make it difficult for consumers to maintain brand loyalty during Ramadan. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents say they would buy the brands on the best offer or promotion, irrespective of who produces them.


Only 22 per cent said they would always stay loyal to a particular brand, regardless of promotions or discounts that other brands might offer.


However, bulk purchases are popular in other product categories, including personal care and household products.


Almost two-thirds of consumers in Egypt (59 per cent) expect to spend more during the Holy Month. This figure is at 56 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 46 per cent in the UAE.


Approximately 68 per cent in all three countries expect to cover costs from their regular income, while 29 per cent of them expect to dig into their savings.


“It is evident that, although there is an increase in consumption and expenditure during Ramadan, consumers’ purchase patterns differ according to the type of product they are buying, which impacts the offers they look out for,” said Pranay Dandekar, head of consumer research at YouGov.


“Brands need to take cognizance of this fact and design the right promotions, tailored to specific product categories, in order to stand out from the crowd and win the fight for consumer attention,” Dandekar added.


Top Ramadan products

Below are the top products customers are expecting to consume more of during Ramadan:


Dates – 73 per cent

Laban – 62 per cent

Yogurt – 61 per cent

Powdered soft drinks, squashes and cordials – 53 per cent


Travel habits


Besides exploring consumers’ shopping habits, YouGov looked into the travel habits of residents in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, especially now that the school year has ended for many and expats might want to escape the heat.


Surprisingly, the data found that residents are more likely to travel during Eid instead of during Ramadan, with 43 per cent of respondents in all three countries stating so.


Of those travelling, 56 per cent are looking to travel within their home country, while 30 per cent are looking to travel abroad.


Promotions and discounts also come into play here, with the most appealing promotions and discounts focused on flights (as per 62 per cent of respondents), followed by discounts on hotel stays (as per 57 per cent of respondents).

supplied YouGov Infographic Ramadan 2016