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5 Ways of Navigating Business Slowdowns in Ramadan: Insights and Solutions

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Ramadan symbolizes a spiritual detox period Muslims, dedicating their time to religious activities. This self-care month prioritizes fasting, prayer and family gatherings to individuals and communities, and  it also brings various opportunities along with diverse challenges to organisations.

For instance, due to shifts in consumer behaviour, declines in employee productivity, and cultural considerations, such as observing the holy month in Middle Eastern countries, may lead companies to implement reduced working hours. These adjustments may vary across regions, resulting in distinct periods of business slowdown.

In this blog, we’ll explore five strategies to efficiently navigate business slowdowns during Ramadan.


1. Understand Ramadan’s Impact on Consumer Behaviour

The holy month changes individuals’ routines, schedules, and behaviour in diverse ways. For example:

  • Fasting during from sunrise to sunset alters meal times, sleep patterns, and activities. This influences when and how consumers engage in shopping and leisure activities.
  • Ramadan is like having Christmas every day for an entire month, and as such, it is a time for family and community gatherings. This leads to an increased spending on food, gifts, and social activities, especially during evening gatherings after Iftar.
  • Embracing traditions in Ramadan involves an increase in demand for specific food and beverages such as dates, sweets, different beverages as well as heath and wellness products to support energy levels and fasting.
  • Using this month for spiritual reflection and an increased interest in religious activities, Muslims priorities, along with their spending habits, shift towards charity, community support and religious products (e.g., prayer mats, Quran, Islamic and modest clothing) and services (e.g., donation services, religious educational programs, festivities).
  • Turning to digital platforms for connectivity, entertainment, education, and shopping. This presents diverse marketing and digital opportunities for business.

During Ramadan, consumer spending often peaks during evenings and late nights, between Iftar (breaking of fast) and Suhoor (pre-dawn mean before fasting begins).

To this end, it is important to adapt marketing strategies to target peak hours for  increased engagement. Moreover, organisations should consider adjusting operating hours for specific positions, such as customer services, sales, and delivery, to accommodate online and foot traffic.

Furthermore, it is crucial for businesses to launch campaigns, promotions and even products that relate and respect the month of Ramadan to attract customers during this festive period.

2. Enhance Online Engagement with Customers (at Peak Times)

According to a Google study, consumers in Saudi Arabia want a hassle-free and online Ramadan shopping experience, however, two-thirds of consumers experience online shopping issues during the holy month. In consequence, 42% of shoppers are willing to consider switching brands that offer a faster experience and 36% will do the same if a product is available elsewhere.

As individuals have reduced working hours in Ramadan, consumers are mostly online shopping between 11 AM and 6 PM , with the highest peak between 2 PM and 3 PM. Therefore, as more and more individuals turn to online channels for seamless shopping and entertainment activities, businesses need to strengthen their digital presence to stay relevant and accessible towards their consumers. They can do this by:

  • Optimizing website and app for peak engagement times
  • Using push notifications to drive interest
  • Offering special features and promotions specific to Ramadan
  • Supporting charitable causes and integrating donation features
  • Enhancing consumer experience for fating users

Additionally, in 2022, according to a Meltwater, the Middle East recorded over 32.1 million total mentions across social media for Ramadan. Thus, it is crucial for organisations to monitor and stay active on the platforms where their consumers spend most of their time. Keeping an eye on trending apps will permit your business to adapt strategies based on real-time data of user engagement, increase its brand visibility, create targeted marketing opportunities, and collect feedback and insights that can be used to improve products, services, and overall customer experience.


3. Cater to Consumer Needs During Ramadan

During the holy month, individuals focus on their needs rather than their wants. As this month is about being grateful and thankful for what we have, individuals focus on their religious activities instead of their usual routines, which means likely won’t be trying new things or following new trends.

People prioritize what’s good for them to keep themselves healthy and moving the entire month and after, such as health and wellness products and services to keep them energized and productive from sunrise to sunset.

To cater better to consumer needs during this time, businesses from all industries can:

  • Sponsor or host Ramadan Iftar and Suhoor events
  • Distribute Ramadan essentials and meal boxes
  • Customize website, social media posts and product packages
  • Collaborate with local suppliers and artisans to source traditions
  • Offer healthy options such as energy-boosting snacks and hydrating beverages to consumers with their orders

Executing these kinds of activities and support will make your consumers feels understood, valued, and appreciated. Moreover, this will build trust between your business and your consumers, fostering long-term loyalty. Additionally, catering consumer needs will open the door to new customers and opportunities.

4. Adapt to Effective Yet Flexible Operational Strategies

As governments enforce the reduced working hours to allow individuals to be flexible and practice their religion, they also extend opening times for malls and leisure facilities to help businesses stay active during peak hours as well as recover from any potential slowdowns throughout the day. These laws and regulations allow both the population and organisations to balance and support spiritual and commercial activities, encouraging inclusivity and cohesion.

A great example of this is the United Arab Emirates, a country that values diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and safety above all for its citizens, tourists, and corporations. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, sums up Dubai’s and the UAE’s stance on the values of acceptance and empathy by saying, “There is no future for this region without intellectual restructuring that consolidates the values of tolerance, pluralism, and acceptance of others intellectually, culturally, and in terms of sect and religion.”

Following governmental initiatives, organisations need to adjust their operational timing during Ramadan to increase efficiency as well as accommodate employee schedules. However, as reduced hours can impact productivity levels or disrupt certain business aspect such as supply chain management, companies need to proactively address these challenges to maintain service standards and meet customer expectations. Employers and managers are encouraged to:

  • Implement flexible working arrangements by discussing possibilities of different shifts and timings with employees
  • Provide remote work options
  • Compress work to accommodate Muslims and support them in their Ramadan journey
  • Anticipate any demand changes, work disruptions and prevent any stock shortages
  • Optimize logistics and distribution channels to maintain timely deliveries

Additionally, organisations can provide their managers with training and qualifications pre-Ramadan, such as a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualification, teaching strategic management principles, leadership, and team management as well ethical leadership. This allows managers to analyse market trends, understand consumer behaviour, and develop flexible strategies to effectively respond to the unique demands of Ramadan while maintaining workplace performance and strategic alignment with objectives. Moreover, it permits managers to develop their leadership through empathy, communication, and flexibility to support their employees better during this period.


5. Integrate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives

Ramadan represents compassion, generosity, and community support. This makes the holy month a period of endless opportunities for businesses to engage in meaningful CSR initiatives that resonate with their audiences, including:

  • Engaging in corporate philanthropy and charitable giving by installing collection sites for donations at work
  • Providing Ramadan and Eid salary bonuses for employees to support their journey and reduced hours (where applicable)
  • Contributing to community welfare and address societal concerns
  • Donating a percentage of sales to support community service initiatives
  • Sponsoring meals for the less fortunate
  • Initiating volunteer programs to support community services
  • Partnering with local charities, non-profit and humanitarian organisations to launch CSR campaigns or sponsor ongoing ones.

The Emirates Red Crescent, for instance, announced that 1.8 million people in the UAE and 44 countries worldwide will benefit from its Ramadan programs in 2024, including Iftar, Zakat (giving a portion of one’s wealth to those in need), Eid clothing, food parcels totaling approximately to 37, 606, 500 AED. Launching their ‘‘Ramadan Continuous Giving’’ campaign, the charity aims to strengthen UAE’s giving community and increase partnerships across sectors to expand any support efforts.

For organisations, engaging in CSR initiatives that are aligned with the values of Ramadan reflects ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility. Through these actions and campaigns, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility but also build trust and loyalty with their employees as well as their consumers.

A CSR initiative could also be as simple as delivering a message of peace, like the recent campaign from Aramex, encourage individuals to record and share a message of ''Salam'' which translates to peace, to unify the world.


Maintaining Success During Ramadan

It is essential to combine flexibility and proactive strategies when navigating business slowdowns during Ramadan. Organisations that align their efforts with the spirit of Ramadan promote long-term and stronger relationships with their employees, consumers, and communities encouraging sustainable growth and success.

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