How are lockdown trends transforming your Ramadan business strategy?

We’ve seen the headlines. The COVID-19 pandemic is transitioning the way we live and work, resulting in unexpected trends nationwide. Forward-thinking SMEs and retailers are planning to (if not already) transition their business online to fulfil consumers’ needs this Ramadan period.

However, jumping on the digital marketing bandwagon without critical insight into the online marketplace, your competitors—and most importantly, your customers—can result in costly decisions that you simply cannot afford. Why? Without a solid understanding of the changes in shopping, usage and behaviour of Malaysian consumers, you run the risk of missing out on surviving this challenging period.

Consumer preferences are evolving—faster than you anticipate

How well do you know your target audiences within the Malaysian Muslim community? In a research by YouGov, Shopee topped the list of brands the Malaysian Muslims are buying from ahead of Ramadan. Personal care brands are also popular, with local Halal-certified Safi and global hygiene brand Lifebuoy.

As social distancing and working from home become the new normal for Malaysians, working mothers are now taking on the added responsibility of managing the household, and are likely to look for an easier solution for food and household items.

Market research trends can point you to what the community is purchasing but do you know how to best reach them? Hit pause on your digital marketing ad spend for a moment and consider the possibility that you may need additional insight into where your customers are utilising their screen time most and win their loyalty.

Ramadan shopping online for everyday essentials—but you already know this

From our research, MCO has sparked a radical change in consumer behaviour; sales for breadmaking machines and foods with longer shelf life topped the list in the last 60 days. There’s also rising search interest in “fresh delivery” in Malaysia, which spiked up by 1,050% while delivery searches in Malaysia grew by 1.6X growth in the last 30 days.

However, only 44% of SMEs in Malaysia utilise e-commerce platforms. As more Malaysian Muslims turn to online shopping channels for everyday essentials, there’s an urgency for SMEs and retailers to integrate e-commerce as part of their business strategy. But the question remains: Are they equipped with the right tools to achieve their business goals in the short-term?

Mindful purchasing in smaller quantities

Although Ramadan bazaars in Malaysia have had to come to a halt due to the extension of Movement Control Order (MCO), brands and retailers have a golden opportunity to help fulfill the needs of the Muslim community throughout the holy month. Without the usual buka puasa gatherings and Raya open houses this year, consumers may not be purchasing in large quantities. In-depth analysis from social listening tools would uncover more insights to guide your business strategy during the Ramadan period.

Lockdown spurs home cooking

With most of the country confined within their homes, home cooking is on the rise in Malaysia with recipe searches rising exponentially as we get closer to Ramadan. Brands can take this opportunity to inspire and empower Malaysians to recreate their favourite Ramadan bazaar favourites in their own kitchens perhaps with custom, DIY meal kits for the family — a good way to discourage wastage and unnecessary panic buying, as consumers will buy what they require to prepare their meals.

“Out of stock? We’re willing to switch brands”

Out-of-stocks are missed opportunities, particularly for manufacturers, as one in four consumers have indicated their willingness to switch brands in the event there is no stock. For stocking up key pandemic pantry items such as Hand Care, Snacks, Body Care and Household cleaners, the percentage of consumers willing to switch to new brands increases to 40% – 50%.   

Meanwhile, FMCG manufacturers of categories that are popular during Ramadan, such as butter and margarine, fruit beverages and dry groceries, should ensure that their products are present and constantly well-stocked in convenience stores. 

Competition is picking up the pace, but you can raise your game

The MCO could be a catalyst for growth in online shopping—SMEs and retailers can step up their business strategy and finetune their customer acquisition strategy to get the biggest ROI for their digital marketing spend.

The bottom line? Data is key to pivot according to your consumers’ needs but you will need help. And this is why you need a partner who specialises in digital communication—not those big communication firms with the fancy ads—but a bespoke agency backed by senior strategists who would work hand in hand to support you in keeping business moving beyond the MCO.

Talk to us today. 


  1. Reimagining Ramadan-Raya Under Restricted Living, Nielsen, 10 April 2020

  2. Google Trends, Malaysia, past 90 days, ending April 16, 2020

  3. Malaysia Digital SME Study 2018, SME Corp. Malaysia & Huawei Technologies (M) Sdn. Bhd

  4. Top 10 brands Muslim consumers are spending on ahead of Ramadan, Marketing-Interactive, 20 April 2020

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