In a quiet neighbourhood in a Malaysian terrace house, the nearby mosques have put out a call to prayer. It is 4am in the morning. Hasnaa calls her kids to wake up and prepares for Sahur, the meal before sunrise and the first morning prayer, before fasting for the sacred month. Ramadan has begun.
During the month leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Muslims celebrate the Ramadan month by adjusting their habits to include more time for charitable and religious deeds as well as fasting. This 30-day period also sees more Malaysians visiting each other, so they would prepare their homes and families to receive guests in the upcoming celebrations by shopping for goods.
Malaysians typically receive their annual bonus before traditional celebrations like the Lunar New Year, Deepavali, or Ramadan. But when they receive their bonus would differ from one company to another. Nevertheless, this festive season will see an increase in spending, especially for those who do get a boost in income from their bonuses.
According to the latest Malaysian Census in 2011, approximately 61.3% of Malaysians practice Islam. This means that the temporary lifestyle change will be significant enough to affect Malaysia’s economy and purchasing habits. With about 15 million online shoppers in Malaysia, this makes the Ramadan period a great time for promotions and discounts. Unlike Indonesians, Malaysians tend to shop much earlier during Ramadan, with the spike in purchases happening during the 1st week of Ramadan and then tapering off as the month rolls on.
So what would this mean for the e-commerce merchant? What kind of products do well during Malaysia’s Ramadan period?
Similar to the Lunar New Year period, many Malaysians shop during the Ramadan period to make a good impression when they are visiting friends and families.
With Ramadan being a sacred period, Malaysian Muslims will also tend to look for more conservative and modest clothes to wear. These include the likes of baju kurung, hijab, songkok and more. However, modest fashion also tends to do well during Ramadan.
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Modest fashion is a trend among Muslim women where they are able to express their religious virtues while still having fun through the outfits they wear. With influencers like Vivy Yusof coming up with brands like Fashion Valet and dUCK, Malaysia is also shaping up to be a market leader in modest fashion. Modest fashion accounts for US$ 44 billion of the US$ 1.9 trillion global Muslim market according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy study in 2016. Modest clothing tends to prioritise comfort and fit. So this allows for agnostic brands to do well in Malaysia too.
For example, Uniqlo partnered with Hana Tajima to release a line of modest wear which includes items ranging from long dresses to hijab headscarves. Malaysians also see international goods from Japan, Europe, and Korea as having higher quality, and are willing to spend more for these international items.
Health and beauty products like cosmetics also tend to do consistently well in the Ramadan shopping period for the same reasons that fashion items do too.
However, tapping into this vertical will be tricky because of halal requirements. Malaysia has recognised UAE’s Halal Products Control System, which plays a part in 60 markets that have also accepted Malaysia’s own halal systems certification for these types of products.
With this in mind, it helps to carry brands that are Malaysian halal certified, as more international brands are also recognising the need to cater to this market like Shiseido’s Za cosmetics line. Additionally, seeking out a Malaysian ambassador for your products could also increase trust from your Muslim customers, like how Neelofa, a Malaysian actress, became Lancôme’s hijab-wearing ambassador.
Malaysian Muslims are more likely to buy halal products because it aligns with their values. Additionally, Muslim millennials are more likely to be conscious consumers, choosing brands that reflect the Islamic ethos. The halal certification is one way of ensuring that your products also fall in line with their beliefs.
Consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets and cameras see increases in sales throughout the weeks leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Malaysian Muslims change their usage of smart devices during the Ramadan period. Google’s study revealed that Muslims will consume 1.5 times more spiritual content during the Ramadan month, even on mainstream online platforms like Spotify and YouTube. These can come in the form of audio playlists and online videos which convey spiritual messages.
In cases like these, devices like smartphones and tablets might be worth promoting during the Ramadan period. You could also consider promoting electronic accessories and peripherals like power banks, earbuds, smart wearables, and the like.
As with most sensitive topics, it helps to play it safe when designing your marketing campaign’s message. To find out more about promotions and discounts you can run and more, have a look at our article on when major e-commerce shopping events take place in Malaysia.
The Ramadan period’s boost in commercial activity offers a great sales opportunity for e-commerce merchants looking to sell their products to Malaysia. If you’re fulfilling orders cross-border to Malaysia, it’s good to have a logistics partner who is reliable and can clear customs for you smoothly.
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