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    When Ramadan ends

    Photo: iStock

    The easeful celebration that closes the month of Ramadan has never been so colourful or well-met in the UK, as Eid holds ever more appeal, joy and flavour for a population that relishes diversity…

    In the UK, the rich tapestry of cultures and traditions interweaves seamlessly, especially during the Musilm holy month of Ramadan and the joyous occasion of Eid. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, holds immense significance for Muslims worldwide. In the UK, the observance of Ramadan varies across communities, reflecting the country’s cultural diversity. From bustling cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham to smaller towns, Muslims come together to fast from dawn to dusk, engage in charitable activities, and deepen their spiritual connection.

    The UK’s multicultural landscape has influenced the way Ramadan and Eid are celebrated, blending traditional practices with British customs. As Ramadan draws to a close, Muslims eagerly anticipate Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. It is a time of jubilation, where families come together to offer prayers, exchange gifts, and indulge in sumptuous feasts. People will visit relatives and friends, sharing traditional food such as samosas, seviyan, handesh, nunor bora, and fulab.

    Muslim-specific grocery sales, with the “Asian” and World Cuisine sectors, are becoming more commercially significant with every year that passes, going beyond Muslim dinner tables and British consumers in general discover its tastes and textures – making Eid an important occasion for everybody.

    When Ramadan ends
    Photo: iStock

    Ramadan, culminating with Eid, is already being counted as Britain’s biggest economic occasion after Christmas and Easter – worth an estimated £200 million to the UK economy; £100m of which is spent in supermarkets and stores, according to a report by advertising firm Ogilvy.

    Eid ul-Fitr is one of the two main, equally important, Eid celebrations of Muslims (the other being Eid ul-Adha, which begins following the annual Hajj pilgrimage). Commencing at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, Eid ul-Fitr is a festival that celebrates the breaking of the fast.

    In the UK, the festival is expected to take place on 10 April, depending on the sighting of the moon. Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr traditionally over the first three days of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar.

    Embracing diversity

    Local communities are increasingly getting involved in Eid celebrations. For the second year, Ramadan Lights have brightened up London’s West End, spreading the joy of the Muslim holy month to all communities. Mayor Sadiq Khan switched on the capital’s lights to mark Ramadan, and the glittering display will be turned on every evening for about 30 nights until Eid ul-Fitr in April.

    The aerial lights, overhanging Coventry Street in Westminster, have been given a brand new design, which takes inspiration from Islamic geometric patterns and symbols of dawn and sunset. In an exciting twist this year, the lights will transform towards the end of the month to say “Happy Eid”.

    The project was founded by Aisha Desai and Ramadan Lights UK, with this year’s lights organised and funded by the Aziz Foundation.

    “These lights are a beacon of solidarity and harmony, representing the coming together of people from all faiths and none in this great, multicultural city,” Rahima Aziz, trustee of the Aziz Foundation, said in her address during the switching-on ceremony.

    “They are also a celebration of Muslims in Britain, a bold and prominent display of how proud we are to be Muslims at a time of shocking levels of hate towards Muslims and other faith groups.”

    When Ramadan ends
    A special lighting display in Piccadilly in central London, UK for Ramadan on 29 March 2023 (Photo: iStock)

    Ramadan Lights is a community project in which several key partners have worked together in a collaborative spirit. These include the Lantern design agency, Heart of London Business Alliance, Westminster City Council, and Aisha Desai, the founder of Ramadan Lights UK.

    Desai feels the project has given British Muslims a sense of belonging.

    “It is really powerful,” she has said, adding that many non-Muslims are becoming increasingly curious about Ramadan and what it involves.

    “It’s spreading awareness in such a nice way through art and light installation. It was the idea that came from me but I encourage Muslims and people from other faiths to continue on and do it.”

    And, the mayor of London’s free, annual festival, Eid in the Square, will return to the capital’s iconic Trafalgar Square for the 19th year on 20 April.

    Developed in partnership with the Eid Community Advisory Group and London based arts, culture and grassroots Muslim organisations, the festival supports the Mayor’s #LondonForEveryone campaign, bringing communities, friends and families together to enjoy the celebrations.

    The Main Stage will host an exciting line up of performances, and the Square will be awash with activities, markets stalls and a feast of global food stalls. The event will also see the second edition of the Inspiring Muslim Awards, celebrating the unsung heroes of London’s Muslim community.  

    When Ramadan ends
    Photo: iStock

    Last year, thousands of people have attended one of the country’s biggest annual Eid celebrations.

    “I am delighted to once again celebrate Eid in the Square with Londoners and visitors from all faiths and backgrounds … showcasing the very best of London’s Muslim communities and celebrating their immense contribution to the capital,” Sadiq Khan said during last year’s event.

    “Our city’s greatest strength is our diversity and celebrating the end of Ramadan together is another example of how we are building a better and fairer London for everyone.”

    Over at West Yorkshire, Huddersfield Market is all set to host a special community event on Sunday, 7 April to celebrate Chand Raat and the start of Eid celebrations.

    The Apna Bazaar night market, in partnership with Radio Sangam, will feature Asian and Middle Eastern food and drinks, goods and live entertainment.

    Chand Raat, which translates as “the night of the moon”, is a Muslim holiday that occurs at the end of Ramadan, on the eve of Eid ul-Fitr. Muslims and people of all faiths are invited to the festivities at Huddersfield Market.

    The event, the first Apna Bazaar night market of 2024, will feature live entertainment hosted by Radio Sangam, a community iftar, henna artists and market stalls selling a range of South Asian goods such as jewellery, hampers and gifts, fragrances, clothing and more.

    A feast of Asian, Caribbean and Middle Eastern foods, drinks and sweet treats will also be available to buy for everyone and those breaking their fast.

    “This inclusive, family-friendly market and celebration event is for everyone, of any faith and from all walks of life,” Cllr Aafaq Butt, cabinet member for culture and Greener Kirklees at Kirklees Council, said.

    “I hope that Kirklees residents will come together to enjoy music, live entertainment, food and a unique shopping experience in the historic Huddersfield Market.”

    Elevating Eid

    Eid celebrations are also excellent opportunities for retailing sweets, soft drinks and snacks, even if the products have no direct cultural link Eid or Islamic culture – they still fit in deliciously with the celebratory and social atmosphere.

    Barr Soft Drinks is encouraging retailers to stock up Rubicon, the UK’s No.1 Exotic Juice drink brand [IRI, MAT to 12.01.2024] to cater for the demand of trusted, authentic brands during celebrations such as Eid ul-Fitr .

    “Traditional shoppers will be looking for brands that they know and trust, and our research shows that Rubicon shoppers are loyal over this celebratory period,” Jonathan Kemp, commercial director at AG Barr, says.

    “Rubicon was the only brand to drive growth during Ramadan in 2023 and the only brand to bring in new shoppers during the period. We see shoppers stock up on multipacks early on, then top up with singles and 1L packs during the four weeks of Ramadan, switching back to bulk buys for Eid.”

    When Ramadan ends

    New shoppers use events and celebrations as inspiration to try something new, so Rubicon’s wide range of flavours and formats, available in still and sparkling variants, has broad appeal with shoppers catering for a number of different tastes amongst family and friends.

    “Barr has a range of Rubicon products that cater for all shoppers needs, with the brand’s bold, bright and fruity range perfectly placed to help retailers maximise sales opportunities. Retailers should focus on the Rubicon Still range early in Ramadan when consumers are fasting and then move towards Sparkling closer to Eid celebrations to maximise incremental sales,” Kemp adds.

    He advises retailers to create in-store theatre early on to drive soft drinks sales, as well as making the most of POS on the fixture.

    Jon Calland, head of sustainability & external affairs at Tilda, noted that occasions like Ramadan and Eid create consistent demand for new recipe inspiration.

    “In recent years, there has been a noticeable trend among consumers opting for more convenient and high-quality grocery products,” he says.

    “The versatility of rice allows for the creation of a wide variety of dishes: Tilda offers a range of products, from Pure Basmati to Fragrant Jasmine and over 26 ready-to-heat flavours to suit many different cuisines. Consumers are also seeking time-efficient options for preparing traditional iftar meals without compromising on taste. Tilda Pure Basmati rice 250g has been awarded with the 2023 Great Taste Awards, making it an excellent solution for consumers with busy lifestyles during this festive period.”

    Calland says a variety of different grains could offer consumers more choice and inspire them to create dishes from all over the world. “Tilda is the No.1 brand in Jasmine block packs which could inspire consumers to create Thai curries or a luxurious kheer during this festive season,” he adds.

    Tilda has launched a comprehensive 360-degree marketing campaign this Ramadan. With a central theme of “Sharing is timeless”, the leading rice brand is executing a robust outdoor campaign across key areas in the UK, including London, Manchester, Leicester, Luton, Birmingham and Bradford.

    When Ramadan ends

    Alongside this, Tilda has established a prominent presence on Asian TV and radio channels through spot ads and premium sponsorships. Moreover, the brand has introduced a newly launched blog about Ramadan around the world (tilda.com/blog/) and innovative recipe ideas, offering consumers content that resonates with the spirit of the season.

    Eid sales will also benefit from Tilda’s recently unveiled new multi-channel campaign worth over half a million pounds.

    Central to Tilda’s new campaign, “Whoever You Are, However You Make it, Elevate it with Tilda” is the celebration of universal joy and pride people derive from enjoying delicious, high-quality food, regardless of their backgrounds or preferences.

    The visually appealing ad, inspired by the quirky Wes Anderson style that recently took TikTok by storm, offers a hyper-real glimpse into the lives of families across the UK, from gym-goers to date nights and cozy evenings at home.

    With a total investment of over half a million in the first half of the year and further support planned for the second half, the campaign marks a significant investment in Tilda’s masterbrand focus. Rolled out on 18 March, the multichannel campaign will run till the end of April, accompanied by heavy media investment.

    “Our newest Masterbrand campaign celebrates the rich tapestry of mealtime experiences across the UK. With our new campaign, we want to emphasise that no matter who you are or how you enjoy your meals, Tilda is here to elevate your plate,” said Anna Beheshti, head of marketing at Tilda.

    Outside the world of rice, Tilda has recently launched Tasty Sides, which are delicious combinations of vegetables and pulses in a rich sauce and one of your five a day. With each serving being high in fibre and containing fewer than 250 calories, Tilda’s Tasty Sides offer a nutritious and flavourful partner to rice. The range is available in four flavours: Mexican Fajita, Indian Black Dhal, Chinese Black Bean, and Thai Green Curry.

    Engaging the community

    As Eid ul-Fitr approaches, convenience retailers can play a pivotal role in facilitating the joyous celebrations of this auspicious occasion, catering to the Muslim community’s diverse needs and preferences. Events such as Eid also offer a perfect opportunity to tap into the surging in popularity of ethnic food, partly driven by the growing multiculturalism of the UK.

    Mainstream supermarkets are cashing in by selling some ethnic foods, while more and more ethnic stores and supermarkets are appearing. The marketing of specific ethnic ingredients and spices in new blends and multipacks, as well as suggesting recipe inspirations for new customers, can help convenience stores open further paths to sales and profits.

    With personal knowledge of their customers and access to cash and carries that supply the ingredients and delicacies Muslim communities are looking forward to, independent stores can have a big potential advantage over the supermarkets, whose “ethnic aisles” might still rely on national purchasing and big standard skus for bulk sales, when the best margins are in the minutiae and detailed knowledge and of traditional and regional tastes and dishes.

    To boost sales during Eid ul-Fitr, convenience retailers can curate Eid-specific offerings tailored to the needs and preferences of their customers. This may include creating dedicated Eid displays featuring a variety of festive products such as gift hampers, decorative items, and traditional sweets.

    Above all, building strong relationships with local communities is key to the success of convenience retailers during Eid. By collaborating with mosques, community centres and cultural organisations, retailers can gain insights into the specific needs and preferences of their Muslim customers. Hosting community events, sponsoring Eid festivities and participating in charitable initiatives further demonstrate retailers’ commitment to supporting and celebrating the diverse communities they serve.


    Take Eid

    Local convenience store retailers can benefit from understanding and catering to specific consumer trends during Eid celebrations to maximise sales and enhance customer satisfaction. Here are some key consumer trends that retailers should be aware of:

    • Increased demand for traditional Eid foods: During Eid celebrations, there is typically a surge in demand for traditional foods and ingredients used in festive dishes. Retailers should ensure they have a diverse selection of staple items such as dates, nuts, spices, rice, flour, and halal meats. Ready-made or pre-packaged items for popular Eid dishes like biryani, samosas, sweets, and desserts should also be prominently displayed.
    • Convenience and ready-to-eat options: With busy schedules and the desire to spend more time with family during Eid, convenience becomes a priority for many consumers. Retailers can capitalise on this trend by offering ready-to-eat or pre-prepared meal options that cater to traditional Eid cuisines. Ready-made kebabs, curries, salads, and desserts packaged for quick consumption can attract busy shoppers looking for convenient yet authentic Eid meals.
    • Gifts and hampers: Gift-giving is an integral part of Eid celebrations, with individuals exchanging presents as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation. Local convenience stores can create special Eid gift hampers or baskets containing a variety of gourmet foods, sweets, chocolates, and other festive treats. Offering customisable gift options or themed Eid packages can appeal to shoppers seeking thoughtful and convenient gift ideas for family and friends.
    • Halal and ethical products: Given the importance of halal dietary requirements for many Muslim consumers, retailers should ensure their Eid offerings include a wide range of halal-certified products. This includes not only food items but also personal care products, cosmetics, and household goods. Moreover, there is growing interest among consumers in ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products, so retailers should consider stocking items that align with these values.
    • Online and mobile shopping: In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards online and mobile shopping, driven by convenience and accessibility. Local retailers can capitalise on this trend by offering online ordering and delivery services for Eid essentials. Implementing user-friendly mobile apps or partnering with popular delivery platforms can help retailers reach a broader customer base and cater to the preferences of digitally savvy consumers.
    • Promotions and discounts: As with any festive occasion, consumers are often on the lookout for special promotions and discounts to save money on their Eid shopping. Retailers can attract shoppers by offering exclusive Eid discounts, bundle deals, or loyalty rewards for repeat purchases. Promoting these offers through social media channels, email newsletters, and in-store signage can effectively drive foot traffic and boost sales during the Eid season.

    Published in Asian Trader, Vol. 30 No. 941, dated 5 April 2024.

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