Ramadan is ending soon, but there's still time for brands to reach out to Muslim consumers in Asia

Online retail and travel sales is also set for an increase in 2018 as Muslim consumers around APAC embrace their mobile devices.

With less than a month to go before the end of Ramadan, marketers still have a chance to reach Muslim consumers in Asia Pacific if they have yet to do so.

Based on 2017 research by adtech firm Criteo, shoppers in Southeast Asia started buying products a few weeks before Ramadan, with sales continuing to escalate throughout the month. This increase happened across all retail sub-verticals. For example, in Indonesia, ‘Toys and Games’ (91%) and ‘Home and Living’ (39%) saw the highest sales uplift, while across SEA, the winning category is ‘Toys and Games’, which experienced a 62% sales uplift.

Alban Villani, general manager for SEA, Hong Kong and Taiwan at Criteo explains to The Drum that its research suggests that the aforementioned categories are what brands should focus on, in their marketing efforts and promotions before and during Ramadan. “By understanding when customers are buying and what they need and love, brands can better plan their marketing strategies to gain early visibility and engage customers to drive sales,” he adds.

With Ramadan-related searches and watchtime on YouTube peaking during Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa in 2017, online retail and travel sales is also set for an increase in 2018 as Muslim consumers around APAC embrace their mobile devices.

Singapore-based ecommerce start-up Shopback is also expecting to see 100% growth in orders from Malaysia and Indonesia as compared to 2017, with categories like mobile reloads and travel doing especially well.

According to Villani, Criteo found half of SEA’s retail transactions were done within apps during Ramadan in Indonesia in 2017 as there was a maximum uplift of retail sales on mobile apps of 105% and across SEA, the maximum uplift during this season was 64%. For travel, customers are choosing to make transactions on mobile rather than desktop as in the week after Ramadan 2017, there was a 40% uplift in sales on app and the mobile web, while desktop sales remain lower than average.

Customers are also exploring more product options within apps, resulting in a higher average order value for mobile apps as compared to other channels. In APAC, conversion rates are five times higher on apps than on the mobile web, making mobile apps an essential platform for brands to drive engagement with their Southeast Asian customers.

In addition, Google found that Muslims in Singapore used YouTube and Search on their mobile during Ramadan in 2017 to travel to meet family and friends, dress up in their traditional best, share more about their culture, get a bite to eat after their fast and find the best seasonal deals and promotions.

What all this means is that it is crucial that brands first ensure that their mobile apps offer a good user experience and secure payments, says Villani. “If brands do not provide app interfaces that are intuitive or payments that are integrated into the app, they are not delivering the best customer experience. When consumers make payment within mobile apps, there is the additional benefit of having payment data fed back to enhance personalisation and commerce marketing campaigns.”

He adds that the importance of omnichannel retail in SEA cannot be emphasised enough as Criteo found that 41% of transactions involve cross-device shopping on two or more devices because in this region, 90% of Internet users are on smartphones and customers engaging in ‘showrooming’ by browsing in physical stores and searching for additional product information or comparing prices on their smartphones, as well as ‘webrooming’ by researching online and buying in-store.

“To ensure that brands are reaching customers along the entire purchasing journey, it is important to engage them across multiple touchpoints – from offline stores to mobile web and mobile apps. Brands can consider integrating customer relationship management (CRM) or point of sales (POS) data from physical stores with online data for a complete understanding of the customer journey and to ensure precise targeting,” explains Villani.

For brands and smaller retailers that lack the volume of data their larger counterparts have access to, Villani says they can turn to data collaboration as by working with a commerce marketing partner that anonymises and pools data from multiple players, brands can uncover deeper customer insights and engage them in ways that were not possible before.

“Over time, as brands accumulate more data, applying machine learning that learns from the data can better connect customers to what they need, when they need it. This will boost conversions, drive sales and encourage repeat purchases in the long run,” he adds.

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