Jessica Goodfellow
Apr 13, 2021

Brands should focus on optimism, connection and charity this Ramadan

As Ramadan continues to face physical restrictions, brands should focus on connecting people online, giving back to the community and building on optimism of better times to come, says M&C Saatchi Indonesia

Brands should focus on optimism, connection and charity this Ramadan

As the holy month of Ramadan begins, brands looking to join the celebrations in Muslim-majority Indonesia should tap into a sense of optimism percolating throughout the country as it rolls out a major vaccination campaign, according to a white paper from M&C Saatchi Indonesia.

The Indonesian agency's founder and president director, Anish Daryani, claims that consumer optimism in the market "is higher than ever" with the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines and the gradual opening up of the economy and freedom of movement.

This comes despite the country banning Mudik—an annual migration in which millions travel to their hometowns to mark the end of Ramadan—for the second consective year to prevent a surge in Covid-19 infections. According to a survey conducted by The Trade Desk, nearly 50% of Indonesians do not plan to travel back to their hometown to celebrate Mudik, which marks the end of the month of fasting.

M&C Saatchi Indonesia states in its Ramadan white paper that the challenges of the past year, and the country's ambitious targets for vaccination, have renewed faith in spirituality.

"After a year of painful separation from loved ones, the festival of spiritual reflection will be met with the double the joy and anticipation and make the teachings of Ramadan of caring and compassion all the more relevant," it reads.

Those celebrating Ramadan are expected to be more charitable than ever this year, after witnessing the heavy weight of Covid-19 on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. But with many choosing not to travel, the country is expected to witness an increase in digital donations—or zakat—this Ramadan, the white paper predicts.

Brands looking to align with this sense of gratitude and generosity should not only tell relevant stories of observing rituals and prayers, but they should demonstrate charity through their own actions, the white paper suggests.

"Islam teaches people to contribute to their communities; a value which brands too must adopt and support causes consumers care about," the white paper states.

Boost in ecommerce

As many in Indonesia choose to forgo travel again this Ramadan, online activity is expected to be boosted once more, including an increase in virtual communications, ecommerce spend, digital donations and online entertainment.

Mudik travel funds are expected to be reallocated to online shopping. The Trade Desk's survey, conducted by YouGov in the first week of March with a representative sample of more than 2,000 Indonesian consumers, found that 63% of shoppers will spend more online this year compared to 2020. 

M&C Saatchi believes that after a year of restrained spending, Indonesians are ready to indulge in shopping. Further buoyed by the prospect for income to improve, the season of gift giving will witness strong ecommerce activity—according to the agency's research with InMobi, some 79% of consumers are planning to buy goods only during the Ramadan month, up from 33% last year. Food and beverage, household, health, and electronics categories are the most searched for online during Ramadan.

Brands and retailers should find ways to keep prospective customers engaged throughout Sahur hours of 4am until 10am, and leverage impulse purchases by offering discounts, the white paper suggests.

Food deliveries

In addition, while the majority of Indonesian people cooked at home during sahur and iftar in 2020, they are planning to increase the number of takeaway meals ordered online this year as Ramadan celebrations adapt to the Covid era, according to The Trade Desk's survey.

Among the food delivery app users, nearly six in 10 said they will be using food delivery apps more frequently this year compared to last. This trend is especially prominent among families with kids as they are unable to go out as much as they usually would during iftar.

M&C Saatchi said this offers a significant opportunity for restaurant and delivery service companies, and recommends that brands could promote packaged ingredients and food delivery to offer more time with loved ones during the holy month.


Media consumption for entertainment, which typically increases during Ramadan, will remain core to gatherings during Sahur and early mornings, the white paper suggests. During 2020, streaming services saw a 41% increase in usage during Ramadan, while TV viewership increased by 372%, according to Nielsen data.

The Trade Desk’s research found that one in two Indonesians surveyed said they plan to spend their Ramadan leisure time watching movies and TV series online (48%), while nearly an equivalent number plan to stream online music (42%). 

Mobile gaming is expected to continue to be consumers’ entertainment of choice. An AdColony report found that during Ramadan in 2020, 80% of people played mobile games more frequently, and 61% played mobile games while multi-screening (using their mobile devices to stream music, check in on social media and read emails while watching TV).

Creative solutions to connecting people

As physical celebrations remain limited, brands should find ways to bring families together online and create conversations that spread positivity and hope, M&C Saatchi suggests. Platforms like TikTok have become a place to find respite, daily humour as well as health tips. Creative solutions that connect families, bring joy or make lives more comfortable will win customer loyalty, the white paper advises.

While virtual communications have kept people connected during lockdowns, most can’t wait to meet with their friends and family in person. Brands who share assurances of a safe return to normalcy yet emphasising the need to maintain safe distancing will help people feel more optimistic, the white paper adds. Islam as a religion upholds fitrah or purity—spiritual as well as physical. Covid-19 has renewed the focus on health and hygiene which brands can adopt as their message towards creating safe places.

M&C Saatchi Indonesia published its first Ramadan white paper in 2020, in which it provided guidance to brands on how to recast their marketing plans to maximise their exposure to the at-home audience. 

(This article first appeared on

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