Facebook reveals Ramadan shopping, media habits for UAE, KSA

Facebook reveals Ramadan shopping, media habits for UAE, KSA
Research participants were asked how certain behaviors during Ramadan were affected by the coronavirus disease. (AFP)
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Updated 25 March 2021

Facebook reveals Ramadan shopping, media habits for UAE, KSA

Facebook reveals Ramadan shopping, media habits for UAE, KSA
  • Social networking firm advises marketers on consumer advertising this Ramadan

DUBAI: Social networking giant Facebook has revealed the results of a study in which it has analyzed the shopping and media consumption habits of people during Ramadan.

The company’s new report “Ramadan: This is the Joy of Discovery,” conducted by its insights and research division Facebook IQ in partnership with data and analytics firm YouGov, advises marketers on how best to reach their audience.

The impact of COVID-19

During its research process, participants were asked how certain behaviors during Ramadan were affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The survey found that in the UAE some activities, such as shopping, were hardly affected, while in Saudi Arabia, people shopped more.

When it came to reading or watching news on any device, 32 percent of people questioned in the UAE said they took more notice because of COVID-19, while 26 percent reported only a little more, and 24 percent had not changed their habits.

In Saudi Arabia, 29 percent said they read or watched a lot more news due to the global health crisis, 25 percent only a little more, and 27 percent said there was no difference.

In both countries, users spent more time using technology to connect with family and friends during the holy month of Ramadan.

 

Media behavior

When users In the UAE and Saudi Arabia were asked, “which of the following do you spend more time on during Ramadan/Eid?” the unanimous answer was “using my mobile device” (44 percent in the UAE and 42 percent in the Kingdom), followed by WhatsApp (42 percent in the UAE and 39 percent in Saudi), and watching videos online (36 percent in the UAE and 33 percent in Saudi Arabia).

In Saudi Arabia, TV was the fourth-most consumed platform with 32 percent of respondents watching TV, while in the UAE it was the seventh-most used platform at 29 percent of respondents.

In both countries, the use of “other messaging platforms” ranked higher than the use of Facebook Messenger (29 percent versus 22 percent in the UAE and 25 percent against 22 percent in the Kingdom) – although it was still well below the use of WhatsApp.

Shopping behavior

With Ramadan and Eid being big occasions for shopping, it is important to understand the shopping behaviors and habits of consumers right from the discovery stage to research and purchase.

Facebook’s research found that when it came to discovering ideas or browsing for inspiration for Ramadan purchases, the digital medium overall and mobile were the top two sources followed by the physical in-store experience.

Traditional media channels such as TV, outdoor, print, and radio trailed behind at the bottom of the list.

Ramez Shehadi, Facebook’s managing director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, told Arab News: “The way people live, connect, shop, and discover during Ramadan has changed one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This Ramadan, we see the emergence of new discovery and shopping behaviors that we have illustrated as six key insights for brands to leverage.”

The six insights are based on the discovery of:

New demand

The demand for online shopping and discovery is greater than ever. The research found that shoppers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia were three times more likely to feel safer using mobiles to shop compared to in-store shopping.

This means that brands should offer their customers a seamless, cross-device shopping experience.

Partnerships

Among those observing Ramadan, half in the UAE and less than half in the Kingdom agreed that public figures and celebrities influenced their purchasing decisions.

Creators also offered a layer of credibility that was especially useful for customers discovering and purchasing new products and services.

Brands must therefore engage with partners and creators to help reach new audiences.

New ways to support businesses

The idea of charity and giving back to the community was deeply rooted in the ethos of Ramadan. Seventy percent of those quizzed in the UAE and 74 percent in Saudi agreed that brands should find ways of giving back during Ramadan.

Consumers looked more favorably at brands that gave back, with 62 percent in the UAE and 57 percent in Saudi Arabia becoming more interested in a brand after learning about their business practices.

That was why, the report suggested, brands must raise awareness of their support for local businesses and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic in a clear and simple way.

Mobile audiences

During Ramadan, people looked to technology, especially mobile, to stay up-to-date and connect with family and friends. They also used mobile to shop and stay entertained.

Because of the pandemic, the use of mobiles has grown with 44 percent in the UAE and 42 percent in the Kingdom spending more time using their mobile during Ramadan. This means that more people are now using mobiles for discovering, researching, and buying products and services compared to going to a store.

With this in mind, Facebook said brands must leverage the rise in mobile entertainment and resources to reach the right audience where they are adapting to how and where they like to discover new things.

New opportunities

According to the report, despite Ramadan being one of the biggest shopping moments of the year, most advertisers switched off spending during the period, based on the misapprehension that most people finished their Ramadan shopping early.

People, however, were continually preparing their homes, meals, and gifts during the month and looked for deals before and during Ramadan.

While 28 percent of the respondents in Saudi and 22 percent in the UAE started planning by March last year, about a month before celebrations started, only 13 percent had completed their shopping when Ramadan actually started.

The research also indicated that the periods just before Ramadan and Eid were the biggest shopping times. Brands must plan ahead to stay relevant and prepared for these shopping peaks, reminding people of what they love by tapping into their preferences, added Facebook.

Bargain hunters

The virus outbreak had made shoppers more price-sensitive and they were therefore more likely to look for deals and bargains. In the UAE, 64 percent of respondents said they were looking to discover more bargains during Ramadan and Eid, while the figure was 62 percent in Saudi Arabia.

This price sensitivity applied to essentials such as food and beverages, as well as to clothing and gift items, making big sales all the more important during Ramadan.

“Brands and marketers in the MENA region must pivot to ensure their engagement remains timely and relevant by constantly discovering new ways to connect with their audiences during Ramadan,” added Shehadi.

“They must also adapt to the ever-changing online shopping trends in the market by persistently tapping into their consumers’ needs and preferences.”


TikTok advises advertisers to ‘lean in’ this Ramadan

Short-form video platform TikTok held a virtual session this week for advertisers planning their media budgets for Ramadan. (Supplied)
Short-form video platform TikTok held a virtual session this week for advertisers planning their media budgets for Ramadan. (Supplied)
Updated 59 min 42 sec ago

TikTok advises advertisers to ‘lean in’ this Ramadan

Short-form video platform TikTok held a virtual session this week for advertisers planning their media budgets for Ramadan. (Supplied)
  • Short-form video platform shares data and tips for advertising during holy month

DUBAI: Short-form video platform TikTok held a virtual session this week for advertisers planning their media budgets for Ramadan.

Historically, the holy month has attracted big money from advertisers, as consumers spend more on everything from household goods to luxury gifts in the period leading up to Ramadan as well as throughout the month.

Up to 75 percent of Muslims say they would like brands to cater to them during the fasting period, yet one-third of online users in MENA and Turkey block digital ads.

This reveals a disconnect between what audiences want and what brands are providing, according to Dana El Hassan, platform strategist at TikTok.

Brands need to be “part of the conversation and community” in order to provide an uninterrupted online experience for consumers, she said.

This is especially true on TikTok, where 61 percent of users believe brands are part of the open community.

El Hassan said that brands should focus on culture, content and commerce in order to integrate with the TikTok community.

A total of 89 percent of users look to TikTok for ideas on home decor, iftar and fashion during Ramadan, giving brands the chance to be a part of the cultural nuances of the month.

Last year, the entertainment category grew 1.7 times during Ramadan, which means brands have an opportunity to engage with a community seeking distraction, said El Hassan.

Additionally, over 50 percent of TikTok users agree that the platform has helped them decide what to buy and they spend 66 percent more on shopping than non-TikTok users during Ramadan.

The platform’s “entertaining, creative-centric and community-led content allows brands to turn inspiration into action, driving consumers to add to cart but also to heart,” added El Hassan.

Once brands decide to be on TikTok, they need to be mindful of their strategy.

Yasmin Mustafa, brand strategy lead, cautioned advertisers against adopting the same approach throughout the month. “Users’ attitudes and behaviors change and shift,” she said. Users are in preparation mode before Ramadan, and in a more celebratory mood toward the end of the month.

TikTok serves as a “stabilizer” by “providing lighthearted content and a sense of togetherness, enabling people to celebrate together,” added Mustafa. This is reflected in the numbers, with users remaining hyper-engaged throughout the month.

“If brands want to be relatable this Ramadan, they need to acknowledge the various sub-moments of Ramadan that are normally forgotten,” she said.

After brands have understood the audience mindset, content is key.

“Create with a TikTok-first mindset,” advised Rita Wehbe, head of the Shop, TikTok’s in-house service offering for brands. One such way is using sound effectively. For example, last year telco Orange’s Ramadan tune was used in 87,000 videos by TikTok users.

Lea Bitar, client partner at TikTok, said that third-party research shows the platform is 10 times more cost-efficient in driving brand awareness and consideration than TV, which typically dominates media spending during the holy month.

Last Ramadan, TikTok campaigns delivered 2.6 times more ad memorability and five times more purchase motivation than industry standards. The platform also drove an average lift of 4.1 percent in offline sales, according to a study conducted last Ramadan on three household and personal care brands in Saudi Arabia.

A winning Ramadan strategy includes planning, optimizing and measuring, said Bitar.

Brands can plan for impact by leveraging TikTok’s suite of solutions and selecting the right mix to hit their business goals and optimize their approach by using new features that the platform will add during Ramadan, such as affinity targeting and dayparting.


Home Centre unveils new brand identity, opening of 2 stores in KSA

Home Centre unveils new brand identity, opening of 2 stores in KSA
Updated 20 January 2022

Home Centre unveils new brand identity, opening of 2 stores in KSA

Home Centre unveils new brand identity, opening of 2 stores in KSA
  • Home furnishings retailer celebrates 25th anniversary by revealing new logo, growth proposition

DUBAI: Home furnishings retailer Home Centre has launched a new customer-centric campaign to mark its 25th anniversary celebrations.

As well as the “Inspired by You” campaign, the company has unveiled a new brand logo and proposition as part of its continued growth plan.

With more than 70 stores throughout the Middle East and North Africa region and Indian subcontinent, the firm aims to strengthen its value and provide products, services, and experiences based on customer demands, senior executives said during a virtual event.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many home dining tables turned into workstations and living rooms becoming playgrounds. The rapid change in consumer habits has resulted in a boom in house moves and home renovations, contributing to making 2021 the Home Centre’s best ever year, its chief executive officer, Sameer Jain, told the online gathering.

The versatility of home spaces had been reflected in the brand’s products, stores, and brand identity with a logo designed to take on many different forms, he said.

Home Centre bosses maintain that Saudi Arabia is an important market for the company with more than 70 percent of its staff (of which 50 percent are women) in the country being Saudi nationals in line with its commitment to Vision 2030 objectives for the diversification of employment opportunities and creation of jobs for women in the Kingdom’s private sector.

The firm plans to open new stores in Hail and Makkah, which will take its total number of outlets in Saudi Arabia to 30 and will be launching a new concept store in Mirdif, Dubai, which is set to be the largest in the Middle East at more than 80,000 square feet.

The new stores aim to offer a different shopping experience to customers with inspirational rooms and a strategic layout designed to display furniture and coordinated home accessories in proximity. In addition, the stores offer click-and-collect and personalized design services.

Despite the significant investment in retail stores, Jain told Arab News that e-commerce had seen strong growth over the last two years. He pointed out that being customer-centric meant that “we don’t want to decide how you shop; we want you to decide how you shop.”

He noted that Home Centre was one of the fastest-growing home retail brands in the e-commerce space.

“We started our e-commerce journey nearly seven years ago, and today we have double-digit revenues coming from e-commerce in all our markets and they are tending to grow even higher in some markets like Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Jain added.


Online Controversy: Israeli comedian’s viral satirical video mocking UAE normalization divides viewers

Noam Shuster-Eliassi, who speaks Arabic fluently and is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights, criticized the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE. (Facebook)
Noam Shuster-Eliassi, who speaks Arabic fluently and is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights, criticized the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE. (Facebook)
Updated 20 January 2022

Online Controversy: Israeli comedian’s viral satirical video mocking UAE normalization divides viewers

Noam Shuster-Eliassi, who speaks Arabic fluently and is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights, criticized the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE. (Facebook)
  • The song “Dubai, Dubai” was performed by Israeli comedian and activist Noam Shuster-Eliassi

LONDON: An Arabic-language satirical Israeli song criticising normalization between Israel and the UAE has gone viral in the Middle East this week, causing a stir online.

The song “Dubai, Dubai” was performed by Israeli comedian and activist Noam Shuster-Eliassi and appeared as part of a comedy sketch on the Arabic-language station Makan 33’s “Shu-Esmo” program.

Shuster-Eliassi, who speaks Arabic fluently and is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights, criticized the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, highlighting the hypocrisy of Israel’s position on Arab countries. 

The parody song begins with the comedian introducing herself as “Haifa Wannabe,” a reference to the famous Arab singer Haifa Wehbe. 

Shuster-Eliassi then goes on to say that she’s “going to sing an original song I wrote in Arabic in celebration of the peace treaty with Dubai, but in general — it’s very important for me to send out a message of love and peace, particularly if it is found 4,000 kilometers away from here.”

The song’s lyrics include: “At the end of the tunnel there is light, and if only all of the Arabs, like those who are in Dubai who have money, would love the people of Israel and not throw us into the sea.

“There is nothing quite like Arabs who have millions, and who have forgotten the members of their people who underwent a Naqba, who have forgotten Palestine. In Dubai, they forgot the siege on Gaza, how nice would it be if only all the Arabs were from Dubai.”

Noam Shuster-Eliassi told Arab News: "People around the world are not used to hearing Israelis in Arabic. And if they do it’s usually for intelligence purposes, I’m a comedian and my role is to make people think critically and laugh and I use my Arabic to do so as well

"So it’s not something common that a Jewish girl uses her mic to criticize what is going on here but I’m super proud and happy to be part of an all Arabic speaking satire show that is not afraid to make sketches like that.”

The song went viral on Arab media outlets sparking a storm from supporters, particularly on social media sites. 

One user, Ahmad Ghanim, tweeted: “The song is a mix of Hebrew and Arabic, and speaks of cooperation between UAE and Israel against the Palestinians. It also speaks about how Arabs have forgotten about Palestine and the suffering of its people. We sincerely appreciate what (the singer) is doing.”

Another said: “This is the best thing I’ve seen on Twitter in a while.” 

Meanwhile, Shuster-Eliassi tweeted: “Have you ever recovered from covid for the 2nd time while causing a diplomatic incident with a viral video mocking a ‘peace’ agreement between 2 governments who were never at conflict, trade weapons anyways and ignore Palestinian human right? Don’t try this at home.” 

 


‘Building bridges’: Annahar opens Dubai bureau

Annahr Al-Arabi opened offices in Dubai. (Supplied)
Annahr Al-Arabi opened offices in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 19 January 2022

‘Building bridges’: Annahar opens Dubai bureau

Annahr Al-Arabi opened offices in Dubai. (Supplied)

LONDON: Lebanon’s Annahar Media Group announced on Wednesday the opening of its Dubai bureau, aimed at consolidating its longstanding presence in the Arab world.

“We’re building the bridges that we dream about between Lebanon and the Arab world and the Gulf,” Annahar CEO Nayla Tueni told Arab News. “I salute all the journalists who are fighting for survival in Lebanon.”

Lebanon’s ties with Arab Gulf states deteriorated over the course of 2021. Diplomats from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries were recalled following comments by Lebanon’s then-information minister in which he praised the Iran-backed Houthi militia and criticized the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen. Before that, Lebanon’s then-foreign minister blamed Saudi Arabia for the rise of Daesh.

Deciding on launching a physical presence in Dubai after such a turbulent political year between Lebanon and the Gulf is a way to showcase how the country’s political squabbles do not represent its citizens, Tueni said.

During the opening ceremony at the Dubai Press Club, Mona Al-Marri, director general of the Government of Dubai Media Office, described the opening as a “historic moment” that “will take digital media to a whole new level in the Arab region” and “consolidates relations with the UAE.”

The announcement comes as newspapers in Lebanon struggle to keep their doors open in light of the country’s economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ramifications of the 2020 Beirut Port blast.

Annahar Al-Arabi, the newspaper’s latest edition that focuses on pan-Arab coverage, launched on August 4, 2020, the same day of the port explosion that left hundreds dead and thousands injured and homeless.


New podcast ‘Decision Points’ to highlight world-changing moments in time

New podcast ‘Decision Points’ to highlight world-changing moments in time
Updated 19 January 2022

New podcast ‘Decision Points’ to highlight world-changing moments in time

New podcast ‘Decision Points’ to highlight world-changing moments in time
  • Rising Giants Network’s original podcast will focus on historic political, financial, technological decisions

DUBAI; Middle East story-telling company Rising Giants Network has launched its first paid subscription-based podcast, “Decision Points.”

Hosted by commentator and voice artist, Abdullah Mansour, the show, recorded in Saudi dialect, will discuss moments in political, financial, and technological history that changed the world.

Basel Anabtawi, chief executive officer and co-founder of RGN, told Arab News: “Our goal is to highlight how one decision can alter the course of history.

“These decisions include moments such as when Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) decided not to return to university resulting in the social media revolution; or when (former US President) Harry Truman decided to drop the atomic bomb, which ended World War II and started the arms race; or even when the (investment banking firm) Lehman Brothers decided to file for bankruptcy, which began a domino effect that resulted in the global recession.”

The show will pinpoint the moment these decisions were made followed by a deep dive into their consequences and aftermath.

“Decision Points” marks RGN’s foray into paid subscription-based podcasting under the banner of RGN Originals. Although the network has produced original shows before, such as “Beirut Blast,” the new show will be available on Apple Podcasts for 4.99 Emirati dirhams ($1.36).

With podcast listenership rapidly increasing in the region, the network has a new slate of shows ready to be released in the first quarter alone.

“We are planning seven new shows (under RGN Originals) at the moment, which would all be released this month,” Anabtawi said.

In March, RGN will also release a scripted show related to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, “Al-Tikriti,” followed by “Al-Rasool,” “7 Bharat,” and the second season of “Hakawati” during Ramadan.

“This (“Decision Points”) is not our first scripted show, but we’ve learned from our previous efforts that what best retains an audience is gripping and riveting content,” Anabtawi added.

“Decision Points” consists of five episodes with a new episode dropping every month.