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  • How to smarten up your branding this Ramadan

    ‘Ramadan Kareem!’ will be ringing across the Muslim world today on the first day of the Islamic month of Ramadan. For the next month, Muslims will be fasting from dawn to dusk, allowing no physical intake such as food or drink beyond their lips. However, as the sun sets they will be gathering together for iftar – the meal for breaking of the fast.

    This month is not just about food consumption management. Muslims describe how it creates a feeling of togetherness and unity, with a focus on prayer, cleansing and spirituality.

    This doesn’t mean that Muslims aren’t interested in consumption. In fact, quite the opposite – the Muslim world tends to see an increase in consumption during this period, partly due to more focus on the family meal in the evening, partly because of the social togetherness experienced during the night-time hours after breaking the fast and partly because Muslims start to gear up towards the celebration of Eid which marks the completion of Ramadan.

    Hotels in the Middle East, for example, will lay on special meals for iftar as well as suhoor (the pre-dawn meal), as described here about hotels in Qatar. It evokes important Ramadan sentiments about sharing food ‘with family and friends’ and being surrounded by ‘the warmth of Qatari culture.’

    During Ramadan, it is clearer than ever that Islam has a fundamental role to play in the lives of Muslim consumers when it comes to consumption. Halal credentials, purity, value and conservation all have a part to play.

    Such Muslim consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and a simple ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ (blessed Ramadan) greeting won’t necessarily be enough to win them over.

    Take these Muslim consumers in Chicago, who are demanding local, free-range and organic halal food so that their iftar is in keeping with the principles of fasting such as purity and compassion.

    Just as sophisticated and smart is this campaign from the Emirates Wildlife Society in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund that has chosen the month of Ramadan to highlight three species of fish in their Choose Wisely consumer guide. Of these, two are selected in the ‘Go for it’ green category and recommended as sustainable fish suitable for family iftar gatherings.

    Abu Dhabi Islamic Banks shows an understanding that Ramadan’s drive for life balance and harmony includes good financial management by offering its consumers online tools to help manage their finances.

    And going one step even further is Emirates NBD a bank offering a special rate on its personal loans in order, it says, ‘to ease the financial pressure on household pressure on household budgets, allowing more time for enjoyment and celebration.’

    These are clever and insightful ways to tune into the more sophisticated Muslim consumer of today – it’s not just about wishing Muslims ‘Ramadan Kareem.’ It is about identifying what is of value, and what is useful during this month. That is where brands will truly excel in these 30 days.