This is part of our Southeast Asia Ramadan series, where we explore eCommerce insights for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore as well as looking into how to overcome logistics issues associated with last mile during Ramadan in countries like Indonesia too. For all of these in one convenient package, check out our SEA Ramadan Guide 2020!
Some countries have seasons like Christmas, East Asian countries have Lunar New Year, and countries with sizeable Muslim populations have Ramadan. Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims, which sees them change their daily habits to include fasting, more time for prayers, changes to working hours and breaking fast with friends and family in the evenings.
Similar to Christmas, Ramadan also sees an increase in gifting and shopping relative to other months in the year. Many retailers expect around double or triple the sales during this period compared to normal months. In 2020, Ramadan will commence on 23rd April to 23rd May while it caps off with Idul Fitri celebrations, better known locally as Lebaran, on the evening of 23rd May to 24th May 2020. You can also find a list of the biggest eCommerce events in Indonesia in our 2020 updated Indonesia eCommerce and shipping guide.
We Are Social’s 2020 Indonesia report1 mentions that eCommerce revenue in 2019 stood at USD 18.76 billion. Statista2 estimates that this will hit USD 26.9 billion by 2020 and grow with a compound annual growth rate of 16.9% (CAGR 2020-2024) to reach USD 50.3 billion by 2024. However, this estimate is subject to change in light of COVID-19’s impact on the global economy this year.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. This country has the largest population in Southeast Asia with 267 million people with 87.2 per cent of them Muslims according to a July 2020 estimate from the CIA World Factbook3. Most retailers in the country look forward to Ramadan, since it’s a time where sales revenue can be double or triple compared to a normal month, such as that of popular Indonesian modest fashion eCommerce mall HIJUP. HIJUP’s Head of Online Marketing and Public Relations, Anastasia Gretti Schender says,
“Since HIJUP was founded in 2011, Ramadan has always given us the best momentum to our traffic and sales. Our annual increases in sales and traffic during Ramadan vary from year to year, but on average we see both double during this period. However, the Ramadan situation this year will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic happening globally.”
Regarding the coronavirus situation, earlier in March the Indonesian government called for social distancing measures to stem the virus spread4. On the 31st of March, the Indonesian government announced5 that there is now a public health emergency.
This announcement lays the foundation for cities and provinces to impose “large-scale social restrictions” to curb the spread of COVID-19. These steps can include shutting down non-essential services, limit religious and social gatherings, and restrict people’s movements – steps not unlike Malaysia’s recent Movement Control Order, announced in March and Singapore’s Circuit Breaker measures, announced in early April.
While it is not known if these social restrictions will extend into the Ramadan month which starts on 23rd April 2020, more Indonesians will likely continue staying home for the foreseeable future.
This change of behaviour will also result in changed spending habits and a likely increase in online shopping. It is also likely that many who had previously not considered using eCommerce will begin shopping online more as well. We’ll cover in more detail how these lifestyle changes will affect demand for different types of product categories, including during Ramadan, later in this section.
But what are some of the spending habits of Indonesians during the Ramadan period, and what are some of the most popular items that they buy?
In Indonesia, a religious holiday allowance, known as ‘Tunjangan Hari Raya’ (THR) locally, is paid out in cash every year to employees shortly before their major religious holidays by their employers.
The deadline for Indonesia’s majority Muslim population to receive their THR is a few days before Lebaran begins. This bonus is important for Indonesians to cover religious spending during Lebaran, which can be quite costly. Another result of THR payments is that disposable income increases among Indonesians during this period.
Apart from increased disposable income, the Ramadan period also influences consumer behaviour in terms of how they work and shop. During Ramadan, many Muslim Indonesians are expected to fast during the day, which means that working hours may be changed and lunch is replaced by a short 30 minutes break instead.
The most popular times for online shopping also changes during this month. During Ramadan, Indonesians were seen to be shopping online more during working hours, according to data by iPrice6 and Shopback7.
They tended to be most active on eCommerce from 10 – 11 am and 4 – 5 pm. 4 – 5 pm is usually when many are at home earlier due to the change in working hours, and are filling the time before they can break their fast with their families later that evening.
Shopback’s data also revealed that the third week of Ramadan is when the highest increase in online shopping takes place in Indonesia. Considering that the deadline for THR payouts is a couple of days before Lebaran, it’s likely that the rest of Indonesia who haven’t received their THR yet will get an increase in disposable income during this week as well. Also, many who know that there’s a guaranteed payout at a certain date are also likely to change their spending habits during this period.
Lisa Widodo, Executive Vice President of Operations at Blibli, also shares her findings,
“Transaction volume rises again approaching Eid, especially on the third week of Ramadan. Of course, once people receive their Idul Fitri holiday bonuses, they will spend it on stocking up groceries and fashion products in preparation for Idul Fitri celebrations.
To accommodate behavioral trends, Blibli works with merchants to ensure product readiness at our warehouses, including those located in the Jakarta area, Yogyakarta, Denpasar amongst others. We also collaborate with our merchants to provide interesting promotions during the Ramadan season, and this includes flash sales and thematic promotion programs.”
However, 2020 brings with it a different environment for Ramadan this year, the COVID-19 outbreak. Many countries are finding different ways to stem the spread of the virus, and Indonesia is also increasingly taking steps to deal with it.
More Indonesians are starting to take precautions against the disease, and are avoiding crowded areas. According to Salaam Gateway8, footfall to physical retail outlets has fallen. While previously some would be willing to travel to other islands in Indonesia to do shopping at stores, this activity is also decreasing. In the same report, some modest fashion stores saw a drop of between 20 – 30 per cent since last December.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, some brands who rely more on eCommerce and direct selling, such as Elhijab have not reported a decrease in sales this year. They also actively take part in online shopping campaigns like those organised by Shopee. Other retailers are starting to bank on eCommerce as a sales channel to offset the revenue lost due to lower footfall – with some looking to online marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada, Tokopedia, and JD.ID or even their own branded online stores.
Now that we have some background on how Indonesian shopping behaviour changes during Ramadan, we can dive into various insights into Ramadan’s popular product categories.
Similar to Lunar New Year and Christmas, Ramadan and Lebaran is a time for meeting family and friends.
While the COVID-19 outbreak may have an impact on meeting extended family and friends, many still take annual family photos when they break their fast on Lebaran – where families likely still want to look their best. During this period, purchases of modest wear for the whole family increases, particularly for children. Old clothes are given away as a form of charitable deed and new ones are bought.
The increase in fashion sales during this period has been fairly consistent over the past years. eCommerceIQ9 uncovered during their Ramadan Shopper Survey that Indonesians spend on average IDR 1 million to 5 million on fashion during Ramadan per order. A Think With Google report10 on how to win during Ramadan in Indonesia found that search terms like baju lebaran 2018 (Eid clothes), model rambut 2018 (hair model 2018), and tutorial hijab see huge spikes in search volume during Ramadan.
When it comes to fashion11, Indonesians love experimenting with colour and don’t have a defined traditional look as Indonesia is made up of diverse cultures. When it comes to fashion, they take cues from influencers which includes online personalities, famous actors and actresses to religious leaders.
For example, Syahrini12, a popular Indonesian singer and actor, has an Instagram following of 32 million and also sells a line of ‘mukena,’ a garment that is used during prayer. Her mukena meets religious requirements without sacrificing style.
Regarding the styles that appeal to Indonesians, Anastasia Gretti Schender from modest wear brand HIJUP adds,
“HIJUP has customers in both Malaysia and Indonesia. However, despite being neighbours, they have different style preferences, especially during Ramadan and Hari Raya. In Indonesia, most women prefer gamis and abaya which is easily mixed with a square hijab or pashmina, whereas in Malaysia most women choose Baju Kurung paired with pashmina.
Although each country has different tastes, similar trends can be observed in colours, materials, details and so on. We predict that one of the trends will be increased awareness of environmental issues and sustainable fashion. This is what underpins the launch of HIJUP’s product HIJUP INFREENITY which is made from natural fibers.”
Modest fashion is continuing to pick up steam in Indonesia – fashion designs that meet the need of not showing one’s figure or skin while still remaining tasteful and stylish. Ogilvy Noor13calls customers who also like this trend Muslim Futurists. The Muslim Futurist wants to live a faithful but modern life, which modest fashion helps them to achieve. There is also room for mainstream brands to be accepted as modest fashion.
International brands14 that are catching on to this include Dolce and Gabanna, DKNY, Victoria, Beckham, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and Uniqlo. But you do need to be careful with the designs, as Mango’s Ramadan collection was criticised for being way too casual and not modest enough for Idul Fitri. Those wishing to test market demand for their modest fashion in Indonesia could consider using cross-border shipping models before switching to local distribution models.
If you’d like to find out more about these trends, check out our article covering modest fashion eCommerce trends in Indonesia.
Looking for an international logistics partner to help you get your products into Indonesia this Ramadan? Our modular cross-border shipping solutions can help you do just that! Contact us to find out how we can help you!
Think With Google’s, Winning Ramadan in Indonesia15 also showed a spike in search volume for consumer electronics products. Search terms like ‘laptop gaming’ and ‘smartphone terbaik 2018’ (best smartphones 2018) rise during Ramadan, especially during the first week of Ramadan and during Lebaran. This is likely linked to the spike in disposable income granted by THR payments during this period.
Euromonitor’s16 report on consumer electronics sales in Indonesia matches Google’s findings. Popular consumer electronics in Indonesia include smartphones with higher functionality and various other Wi-fi or bluetooth enabled devices and products which are portable, convenient, lightweight and/ or compact. The top brands for these include Samsung and LG, with Samsung’s strength primarily coming from smartphones.
More Indonesians will be working and staying home during the large-scale social restrictions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia. With telecommuting increasingly becoming a necessity, products that facilitate working from home are likely to see increased demand. These include web cams, computer accessories, and additional monitors just to name a few.
Toys and games are also quite popular during Ramadan in Indonesia. According to Shopback17, toys and games were the best performing category in online sales in Indonesia for the last week of Ramadan in 2017. This category includes traditional toys like construction sets, dolls, board games as well as computer games.
Increased purchases in this category can likely be attributed to both the boost in disposable income and also as rewards for children who successfully complete their fasting during Ramadan. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council18 credits the convenience of not needing to go through heavy traffic to purchase toys and games for eCommerce’s increased usage in Indonesia, but it’s likely to continue as Indonesians avoid crowded malls during the current viral outbreak.
That’s not all for this product category. With the incoming large-scale social restrictions, entertainment products like gaming consoles may see a boost during this period. Statista estimated that video game console sales in Indonesia would amount to USD 3 billion this year and grow by a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent from 2020 to 2023. With more Indonesians needing to stay home during this period, this product category is likely to see accelerated growth this year.
Cosmetics also see an increase in purchases during the Ramadan period, which can be seen from the growth of a Malaysian skincare brand, Safi that launched in Indonesia in 2018 as covered by Netral News19. This brand managed to get up to a 300 per cent increase in sales during Ramadan compared to previous months. Some of its best selling products included whitening and anti-aging products as well as cleansers and toners.
Considering that Ramadan and Lebaran is usually a time for open-houses, Indonesians will be spending a larger amount of time socialising during this period. Wanting to leave a good impression, they’d want to maintain a confident image, which personal care products can help them achieve.
In Indonesia, halal cosmetics are gaining traction. This is driven in part by the government of Indonesia’s intention of making the country a key player in halal cosmetics manufacturing. Indonesia’s government in 2019 implemented the Halal Product Assurance law No.13/2014 which requires halal certification for all products that want to be seen as halal. Salaam Gateway20 foresees a ‘cosmetics halal wave’ due to this law’s implementation, with many indie brands and local brands leading providing halal cosmetics brands for the market.
Cosmetics Design Asia21 notes that people in Indonesia are showing a convergence between those who want the benefits of natural or vegan products together with maintaining one’s religious identity via using halal cosmetics.
In that article, Florence Bernardin, founder of consultancy Asia Cosme Lab, says Millennial Muslim consumers in Indonesia want to make sure their religious principles are respected. She also says they contribute to the growth of halal cosmetics as they’re strongly connected to social media and new trends while adhering closely to Islamic principles.
Wardah is a brand that’s shown great growth riding the halal cosmetics wave. According to Bernardin “Wardah is one of the more established brands experiencing massive growth by promoting an image of modern, active young Muslim women, differentiating itself from the religion’s conservative identity.”
However, with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it’s worth considering that there’s a chance that large gatherings may not happen during this Ramadan period which could have an impact on personal care product demand, including health supplements.
In fact, Grand Border Resources Pty Ltd, the official distributor of Swisse in Indonesia noted a spike in its health supplement sales this year. Michael Tjendara, Director of Grand Border Resources Pty Ltd and Borderless Trade Logistics Pty Ltd says,
“I have seen a surge in the demand for our health supplement portfolio, especially for Swisse Vitamin C leading up to Ramadan this year. It’s mostly attributed to the current COVID-19 situation where most Indonesians are rushbuying vitamins and also looking for alternatives to what’s available in the local market.
As the official distributor of Swisse in Indonesia, I am working closely with Swisse Australia to ensure stock availability during the peak period and also with Janio to support deliveries under this tough environment”
The Ramadan period changes people’s habits, mindsets and even shopping behaviour. While the COVID-19 outbreak is causing a lot of uncertainty, there’s a chance that festivities among nuclear families could continue, while more of their holiday shopping is taken online.
To cater to these changes, it’s vital to have a robust eCommerce strategy in place together with strong delivery capabilities. It’s good to have a presence on your own brand.com or some of the top platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Tokopedia, or JD.ID with some holiday promotions in place to capture the week 3 frenzy.
According to data from aCommerce22, Indonesians tend to be price-sensitive, so placing lower priced items upfront on your online store might be a good way to flush inventory. Indonesia is also increasingly a mobile-first market, so a mobile-optimised experience will be essential1. You can also try researching search terms that become popular during Ramadan like the ones that Think With Google’s report uncovered and optimise your paid or organic campaigns with them. In addition, you could also consider working with local influencers to garner more awareness of your products.
You’ll also want to arm yourself with how you can deal with the eCommerce and logistics that the Ramadan period brings, which we’ve also written about recently. In addition to that, Indonesians also look out for cash-on-delivery as a payment option. Considering the importance of delivery in any eCommerce experience, have an eCommerce logistics partner who can help you facilitate cash-on-delivery as a payment option and has local experience navigating any delivery challenges that may crop up this Ramadan 2020 to give your online shoppers the best eCommerce experience they can get.
Want to learn more about Southeast Asia’s Ramadan opportunities? Check out our series below:
On 12 Nov 2021, multiple hs codes for apparel in chapters 61 and 62 will incur additional import duties under Indonesia's BMTP initiative.
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