Pandemic-induced restrictions have caused a major disruption to many of the Muslim norms during the sacred month of Ramadan. Because of safety measures against the coronavirus, fasting, worship, charity, prayers in congregation, and family gatherings are being compromised.
This situation can be witnessed even in Southeast Asia, where governments limit travel during the end of the month-long fasting period to avoid a resurgence of cases.
With the region experiencing an increase in consumer spending by a clear 19%, there is evident consumer trust as technology takes a vital role during their day-to-day. That said, how did this impact purchasing behaviour during Ramadan across the region?
Today, an e-commerce aggregator, iPrice Group, released their research on online shopping behaviour during Ramadan in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The study was done by analysing billions of products and sessions, thus, uncovering the unique behaviour of Muslims as we are getting closer to Eid al-Fitr preparations.
Ramadan Drives People to Plan Their Purchase in Advance
The most prominent shift iPrice noticed was in the early morning, where there was a boost in activities before sunrise.
Data shows that consumers in Singapore started their online shopping journey as early as 5 AM, after a morning lull. Shopping activities reached its peak at lunch break at 2 PM and after Taraweeh (the night prayer) period at 9 PM up until 11 PM before bed.
Surprisingly, it was even earlier in Indonesia and Malaysia where people began to shop as early as 2 AM and 4 AM respectively. After the morning period, shopping sessions peaked again at 10 AM in Indonesia and noon in Malaysia.
For one, this potentially indicates that consumers were likely to search more thoroughly for products and best deals before making a purchase for their religious activities during Ramadan or Raya celebrations.
While Muslims fast the entire day from dawn to dusk, they also focus on cherished time with family, refreshing spiritual awareness, and delicious food when they breakfast. With so much to look forward to during the holy month, people are getting excited and are preparing long before the holiday begins.
Search Trends for Health & Beauty and Fashion Products
It is also interesting to see which products were the most searched during Ramadan season. It turns out Health & Beauty, Fashion, Food & Drink, and even Home & Living products were among the most sought-after items during Ramadan as millions of Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr.
In Singapore, iPrice saw the demand for perfume and supplements, which soared with an average increase of 6078% and 2090% compared to last Ramadan. The interests for Kurtas, Cooktops, and Cookies also increased by 1974%, 1529%, and 452% respectively.
Looking a little deeper on the consumer profile in the city-state, the search interest in fashion items is probably driven by mostly millennials who are aged 24-35 years old, representing 24.7% of all online fashion shoppers.
Similar to its neighbouring country, the most sought-after items in Malaysia were skincare (8140%), perfume (6183%), Baju Melayu (4241%), and even Sofas (1262%).
Meanwhile, in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesians’ search interests in clothing such as Kaftan, Gamis, Rok Muslimah, and Sarung experienced a surge of 8773%, 2813%, 1532%, 1850% respectively when compared to the same period last year.
The Importance of Mobile Phones
Since COVID-19, many consumers have turned to their online devices, specifically their mobile phones, to seek sources of entertainment, including online shopping.
Studies by Google, Temasek, and Bain Company revealed that the region gained 40 million new Internet users in 2020, leading to the acceleration of digital consumption.
With the increased online consumption, iPrice noticed that consumers pull out their smartphones to purchase items online. This is evident because mobile emerged as the most used device for consumers in Singapore (55%), Malaysia (68%), and Indonesia(93%) to shop online than other devices within the first two weeks of Ramadan.
By comparison, the usage of desktops only showed 43% in Singapore, 31% in Malaysia, and 6.41% in Indonesia. This also proves that the mobility and the convenience of mobile transactions eclipsed tablet and desktop usage.
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Data featured in this list were obtained by aggregating billions of product pages from hundreds of online merchants through iPrice Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Data on the increase in searches were analysed by comparing the impressions during the Ramadan period this year (12 - 26 April 2021) with the Ramadan period last year (23 April - 7 May 2020). The peak times of online shopping during Ramadan 2021 at SG, ID, and MY were obtained from the visit per hour sessions on the iPrice platforms during the first two weeks of Ramadan period 12 - 26 April 2021.