Ramadan is unlike any other time of the year in the Muslim world. It affects almost every aspect of people's lives -- and online shopping is no exception. Criteo analysed data from last year across Turkey and some key Middle-East countries to help marketers perform during this year's Ramadan month, which will start around June 18.
One clear-cut lesson that we learned from looking at historical data is: mobile will be key to performing during Ramadan this year. Here's what we saw:
1. Throughout Ramadan, sales increase on mobile as well as on desktop
Overall, the Ramadan month is a high season for online sales. Last year, they shot up 28% on average across all verticals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 13% in Turkey. Travel sites benefited the most, but retailers performed solid increases, too, especially in the Home Improvement and Sports and Outdoor subcategories.
In some countries, such as Turkey, mobile sales increased even more than desktop: during the early days, the increase in mobile sales was 45% above that of desktop sales across all verticals, and 38% above in Travel.
2. The share of mobile sales is highest at the end of Ramadan
The last three days of Ramadan (aka Aid el-Fitr in the Middle East or Şeker Bayramı, "Sugar Feast" in Turkey), are when people celebrate the end of a month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Predictably, sales tend to drop pretty sharply.
However, just before those three days, consumers still purchase. And since many of them have been away from home with their families, we typically see mobile usage peak significantly compared with the previous weeks. As a result, the share of mobile sales is 29% above its early June baseline during the final week of fasting. And during the Feast days, while people tend to stay away from their computers, they still have their phones in their pockets -- and they do use them to make purchases.
3. Ramadan or otherwise, mobile is big in the Middle-East, full stop
In the Muslim-majority countries that we studied, mobile accounts on average for a quarter of online retail sales. As a comparison, this number is 29% in the US and 22% in France. In the Middle-East, in particular, many countries are significantly above this average: 33% in Saudi Arabia, 28% in the Emirates, and up to 42% in Bahrain.
Mobile may play a very special role during Ramadan, but it is also a major purchasing channel throughout the year, including during the business-as-usual months. This trend will only accelerate in the coming months and years. Smart marketers will surely keep this in mind when devising their advertising and sales channel strategies.
The blog article was written by Gilles Giudicelli, Head of Research, Global, Criteo. Research provided by Kathrin Schwan, Director of Business Intelligence for Fast Growing Markets, Criteo