Staff Reporters
Mar 22, 2024

Navigating the blurred lines of faith and consumerism during Ramadan

A Moonfolks whitepaper out of Indonesia looks at how brands navigate the festive spending surge while respecting mindful consumption during the Muslim holy month.

Navigating the blurred lines of faith and consumerism during Ramadan

The mix of religious observance, cultural festivities and celebratory consumption during Ramadan have long been important aspects of what makes this period so special for Muslim families across Asia. It's also a subjective blend for individuals, making it difficult for brands to navigate.

In a world where commerce is increasingly muscling into daily content feeds and attention spans through 'shoppertainment' and live streams, already blurred lines between faith and consumerism can stretch the boundaries of appropriate communication. Marketers are leveraging interactive formats like live shopping and gamified experiences to engage audiences. In fact, the transaction value (GMV) of TikTok sellers in Indonesia during Ramadan last year surged up to 92% compared to the period before Ramadan, according to a new white paper from Moonfolks in Jakarta, while warning that "navigating this space ethically requires a delicate balance." 

For example, social media has added a new layer of complexity to genuine gift giving as online validation plays a role for people. Most people now are happy if their gifts to others are then shared on social media. This the creates tension to outdo others with fancy or expensive gifts that can lead to overspending and unhealthy rivalries.  

When it comes to brand content, Moonfolks advises focusing on community and valuable content. Brand communications, at this time, should be focused on building trust and authenticity with messages echoing the spirit of the season—namely community, reflection and charity. Content offering practical solutions, knowledge growth or offers of true value will resonate. When looking to drive sales, product integration must be done subtly, the agency advises.

Among Moonfolks' other key considerations for brands in Indonesia during Ramadan: 

  • Responsible spending: While the THR bonus provides financial security, impulsive purchases and social obligations can strain budgets. Planning, prioritising needs over wants, and mindful spending are crucial.
  • Gifting with purpose: Social media can pressure people to showcase elaborate gifts. Finding the balance between meaningful giving and online validation is key.
  • ⁠Health and wellness: Ramadan encourages mindful eating habits, but the abundance of tempting treats can pose a challenge. Finding a balance between healthy choices and indulging in traditional delicacies is key.
  • Home environment: Home decorations can create a prayerful atmosphere. Balancing DIY projects with trendy purchases and focusing on sustainability is important.
  • Travel considerations: Mudik journeys remain central, but a trend towards less crowded and introspective travel experiences is emerging.
  • Investing for the future: Traditional options like gold remain popular, while new investment avenues like cryptocurrency and NFTs are gaining traction. Informed decision-making and long-term planning are crucial.

“In the dynamic world we live in, each year, Ramadan is different, given the evolving socio-economic factors in Indonesia," says Anish Daryani, founder and CEO of Moonfolks. "In 2024, as inflationary conditions compel Indonesians to prioritise their spends between needs and wants, ‘faith’ becomes a convenient cushion for people to justify spending less. But an undercurrent of consumerism looms, with brands making it convenient for people to fuel their desires and aspirations with price-offs and offers.”

Campaign Asia

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