As many of the UK’s four million Muslims start to prepare for the event of Ramadan, new figures have emerged predicting huge economic growth within businesses that cater to an Islamic audiences.
Family gatherings, gift-giving and dining with friends are core components of Eid, and in 2018 it appears that brands are starting to catch on to the buying habits of Islamic audiences.
According to new research by Thomson Reuters, brands are targeting their advertising and sales efforts towards Muslims during Ramadan which has led to a rise in spending on gifts, foods and other traditional items during this period.
It has been estimated that the “Ramadan Economy” is worth around £200m per year, which has prompted large retailers such as Tescos, Sainsburys and Asda to stock more seasonal items pertaining to the event.
In fact, there have even been new products developed for this years’ promotional season, as Morrisons debuts the launch of a Ramadan Countdown Calendar.
It has been noted that there is also an increase in halal fast food sales during Ramadan, as tired consumers seek high calorie foods between Suhoor and Iftar to get them through the long day of fasting ahead.
At the culmination of Ramadan, it is traditional to present gifts to friends and relatives. In 2018, brands have begun to adapt themselves to fit the cultural context. In fact, brands such as Pepsi, Heinz and The Body Shop have developed new Eid al-Fitr packaging designed specifically for the occasion.
The global islamic economy, including halal food, modest fashion, islamic banking, halal media and more is predicted to be worth more than £3 trillion by 2021, growing at almost double the rate of the global worldwide economy.
With a global rise across multiple market segments throughout the event and growing attention from popular brands, many feel that this is an indication that the UK market is ready to embrace Ramadan and Eid as they have other cultural holidays, such as Chinese New Year.
As the UK market begins to understand the ever growing marketing opportunities presented by Ramadan, more and more brands will be enticed to embrace Islamic culture and create experiences tailored specifically to this demographic.
In light of this, Europe’s largest shopping centre, Westfields, is developing a popup Eid festival in June, which will include food stalls, gifts for sale, live events, special offers and a live catwalk.
Because of the festivities, around two-thirds of muslims prepare financially for the holiday period, and charitable donations increase during this time by 500%.
As small businesses and large multinationals scramble to accommodate for the growing demographic, not all attempts of reaching islamic demographics have been completely successful.
In 2017, Tesco came under fire for including Smokey Bacon flavoured crisps in a ramadan display, which led to controversy as consuming pork products is strictly forbidden within Islamic culture.
Adding to the embarrassment, this display was positioned directly under a banner promoting the celebration of Ramadan, which lead to confusion and irritation amongst consumers.
Sheena Janmohamed, Vice President of Islamic Marketing Agency Ogilvy Noor, says “One of the complaints we hear is that Muslim consumers feel they are not engaged with, as businesses do not reach out to them.”
Because of this, “a huge opportunity is being missed by corporate brands, so the market is being taken by storm by young Muslim startups.”
At a local level, an example of the market being dominated by A young muslim startup can be found in Thornton Heath, South London.
In the highly diverse South London district, there are a myriad of fast food companies and takeaways that cater directly those looking to partake in a halal diet.
These halal food companies have seen major success in the local area, and one restaurant, Rodeos Norbury, has even grown to overtake McDonalds in terms of positive reviews on the Uber Eats delivery app.
“As a Halal restaurant, we’re incredibly busy during Ramadan. Due to fasting, we experience a big evening rush during this period which means we end up serving a whole days worth of customers in just a couple of hours in the evening. “
– Abdul Samad, Rodeo’s Burgers (Norbury)
With local and international success on the cards of Halal businesses in 2018, could Ramadan lead to a spike in retail, travel and fast food sales the way that Christmas does? If so, we wonder what the overall impact on UK retailers will ultimately be?