It’s the month that all Muslims have marked on their calendars every year, awaiting it with anticipation and excitement.
This year an estimated four million British Muslims will be observing the holy month of Ramadan and fasting during the day. Although this might mean a dip in earnings for some restaurants and cafes, many will be heading to their local supermarkets to stock up on food to prepare their daily iftar (breaking of the fast) meals. During this month they will also begin shopping for Eid ul-Fitr, the celebration to mark the end of fasting. Eid celebrations are usually done on a grand scale with epic family feasts, new clothes and an exchanging of gifts and cards.
Just over a decade ago Ramadan was met with confusion and trepidation from retailers and mainstream brands, but recently there has been a surge in targeted Ramadan marketing at large supermarkets and high street stores, especially in areas with a high Muslim population.
Tesco, Asda and the other big supermarket chains have begun introducing ‘Ramadan’ aisles to sell food and ingredients usually eaten during iftar. And this year, for the first time ever, Morrisons unveiled an Islamic advent calendar for children, counting down the days until Ramadan.
But are British brands and retailers doing enough to reach the Muslim market during what is arguably the biggest occasion on their calendar?
|A group of Muslims wait for the sun to set to break their Ramadan fast on the top of Dunstable Downs [Getty]|
Britain’s biggest open secret
Islamic marketing consultancy Ogilvy Noor recently released a report titled The Great British Ramadan, which argues that more needs to be done to engage with the British Muslim community during Ramadan and Eid.
The report, which describes Ramadan and Eid as Britain’s “biggest open secret” argues that retailers and brands must do more to engage with the four million Muslims living in the UK. It goes on to propose the term ‘Ramadan economy’ to accommodate the dramatic changes and upheaval that the month causes to Muslims, leading in a surge of spending and charitable donations.
Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President of Ogilvy Noor adds: “In the UK, Ramadan follows Christmas and Easter as the third-biggest season for businesses. Muslims are spending an estimated £100 million of additional revenue during the Ramadan season. On top of this, they are donating a further £100 million to charitable causes.”
|In the UK, Ramadan follows Christmas and Easter as the third-biggest season for businesses. Muslims are spending an estimated £100 million of additional revenue during the Ramadan season|
A booming economy
With the state of the British high street in crisis, and more stores closing everyday, it’s imperative that brands look deeper into other lucrative markets and begin targeting more diverse groups.
It is reported that Muslims in the UK contribute an estimated £31 billion annually to the UK economy with an annual spend of nearly £21 billion – £3 billion of it being halal food alone. UK supermarkets are also reported to generate an estimated £100 million in additional revenue during the Ramadan season, making it the biggest UK occasion after Christmas and Easter. And with the Oglivy Noor report finding that 78 percent of Muslims want brands to engage with them during Ramadan and Eid, cashing in on these key holidays is a no-brainer.
|Dawn breaks over the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park as Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr [Getty]|
|It is reported that Muslims in the UK contribute an estimated £31 billion annually to the UK economy with an annual spend of nearly £21 billion – £3 billion of it being halal food alone|
Ramadan on the high street
A quick Google search on what the high street has to offer during Ramadan and Eid comes up disappointing. Many brands resell their usual stock with a Ramadan or Eid Mubarak banner and card stockists are still selling old-fashioned Eid cards that no longer appeal to the younger Muslim market.
For the first time ever the organisers behind London Muslim Lifestyle Show and London Halal Food Festival are bringing the biggest London Eid Festival to Westfield London, Europe’s largest shopping centre, on June 23-24. Fashion, food, shopping, show stopping entertainment, and Halal Street Food Zone, plus exclusive offers, .
H&M have also launched a modest clothing collection, available to buy online and will release another collection towards the end of May, conveniently timed close to Eid.
Retailers and brands have a long way to go before they can fully engage with Muslim consumers. Ramadan aisles and advent calendars are just the tip of the iceberg. The key here is to educate ourselves on the diverse needs and wants of the British Muslim population and create something meaningful to offer them.
Sami Rahman is a freelance writer based in London.