A Closer Look at Indonesia’s Ramadan Online Shopping Spree During a Pandemic

June 5, 2020

An insight on “popular food & beverage products” is added in the fourth paragraph of this article per 24 February 2021.

On April 23rd, 2020, the crescent moon filled the night sky to begin the holy month of Ramadan that is commonly filled with the warmth of gatherings, forgiveness, giving, and extending a helping hand to those in need. Throughout decades, Ramadan has become the biggest annual festival in Indonesia. During this time, Muslims commit to fasting between dawn and sunset. While counting down to the end of the fasting month, also known as Eid-al-Fitr, it is customary for the people to take the moment to apologize and forgive one another with the greeting that goes, “Mohon maaf lahir dan batin” (please forgive my body (outwardly) and soul (inwardly)).1 In this period Indonesians also engage in charitable acts such as giving sembako (essential culinary ingredients) to the less fortunate. On Eid-al-Fitr day, they celebrate with numerous festivities, such as wearing new garments to dress oneself beautifully, in addition to consuming traditional delicacies in large gatherings with family and friends. 

In a world with COVID-19, Muslims face Ramadan like never before. The usual Ramadan shopping spree for new garments in shopping malls had turned into an online shopping spree in marketplace platforms. Trips to families’ and friends’ houses to hand parcel gifts had turned into ordering parcels online to be drop-shipped. The traditional sembako giveaways to the unfortunate had expanded into various acts of kindness through ojek (motorcycle taxi) online mobile applications. To put it briefly, Ramadan 2020 festivities had gone online. The methods of this year’s shopping spree as well as the act of giving had made their way into the digital verse while not dimming the spark of togetherness even for a tiny bit. As an e-commerce enabler that has been offering solutions to help brands from various scales and industries in selling online, SIRCLO has gathered data findings to give you a closer look into Indonesia’s e-commerce landscape during 2020 Ramadan.

Specifically this year, there was a giant wave of new users entering Indonesia’s marketplace platforms. When compared to April 2019, the number of new users increased by 380% this year. The number continued to rise throughout May when the fasting period began while people began to adjust to working from home. In unraveling the driving factors behind people’s interest in creating an account and shopping online, we have examined the categories that had been mostly sought after by both new as well as existing users. According to Kantar’s Daily Track for Covid Pulse Research, since 23rd April, 45% people reduce their spending and focus more on their core needs.2 SIRCLO’s data further indicates that in May, the top 5 (five) categories of core needs products that were most sought after by these new users include; Body Care (29%), Food & Beverage (19%), Beauty (16%), Fashion (16%), and Household Goods (9%). 

Since March 2020, both Food & Beverage as well as Beauty categories have consistently experienced a surge. Not to mention, Food & Beverage products have always been the ideal choice of gift during this time of giving. Up to the month of May, our internal data recorded snacks, chips, cookies, syrups, and condiments as the most popular food and beverage products. With people getting more accustomed to the stay-at-home period while indulging in the Ramadan festivities, Body Care category’s sales flew high and Household Goods joined the leaderboard. Mother & Baby as well as Kitchenware Tools categories also experienced a surge in sales, but not overthrowing the top 5 from their rank.

Another category currently being on the rise due to its urgency is Wellness. With the present day being a health-concerning moment for us all, our previous findings evidently indicate that among wellness products sold in e-commerce, the sales of vitamins increased by more than 200% in both February and March (Read the full article here)

Ever since partial lockdown policies (PSBB) were issued, it was observable that people were starting to rely on e-commerce in purchasing their health necessities. During the Ramadan season from April to May, that deduction was further strengthened. The Wellness category as a whole experienced an 111% increase in March which was prolonged till the Ramadan season with a 52% increase. 

Aside from the urgency of buying healthcare necessities, another reason comes into play. Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, had advised the nation to start utilizing tele-health platforms that he referred to as ‘hospitals without walls’. Indonesia’s online healthcare platforms such as Halodoc, GrabHealth powered by Good Doctor, and Alodokter have been improving their features to accommodate the needs arising from the pandemic. The people immediately shifted their focus to this platform, which eventually led to Halodoc obtaining a tenfold increase in their new users growth last April along with over 7 million engagements in their online COVID-19 quick risk test feature.3 With people shifting to online platforms for health consultations, it was also becoming more common to shift to online platforms for medicine shopping. 

Aside from most sought after categories, we have also examined the consumption behavior during 2020 Ramadan and compared it with our data collected from 2019. In two consecutive years, our findings suggest that during Ramadan people are most likely to shop online during suhoor at 4 AM. The same insight is also illustrated in a survey result released in April by iPrice, a meta-search site, and Jakpat, involving responses from 1000 Muslims in Indonesia.4 However, there was a clear shift in peak shopping hours during the day. In 2019, the peak hour was at 12 PM. In 2020, the peak hour shifted to 2 PM followed by post-iftar at 6 PM. 

Throughout the years, Ramadan has always been an ideal time for brands to revel in touching the heart of the nation with various emotional approaches. In achieving that, there is usually a line of emphatic Ramadan advertisements or campaigns in both Indonesia’s local TV channels and the digital verse. According to Kantar’s research on Most Loved Ramadan Ads5 in 2018 and 2019, the recurring theme that people value in both consecutive years would be authenticity. There certainly is an additional value when a brand creates a campaign that’s original and new compared to the conventional Ramadan narratives. Particularly in 2018, the trends were mostly about the core elements that make up Ramadan; simple kindness, togetherness, unity, and nostalgia. In 2019, the themes had taken a turn to a more bold sentiment; personal stories with closest relationships, showing life tensions, and silly humour.

2020’s circumstances had resulted in the arrival of a different set of campaign themes since the nation is in an uphill battle to be free of COVID-19. Kantar’s most recent analysis implies that this year’s themes resonated more on a deeper sense of altruism and being the catalyst of positivity in moments of uncertainty.6 We can easily find these themes being put into motion by brands from the top 5 most sought after categories in e-commerce this year (Body Care, Food & Beverage, Beauty, Fashion, and Household Goods). In the Food & Beverage category, there was Teh Botol’s altruism-themed campaign that highlighted the selfless acts of COVID-19 frontliners titled “Membagikan Kebahagiaan adalah Kebahagiaan” (sharing happiness is happiness). On the other hand, the theme of positivity catalyst was put in motion among the Beauty category through Wardah’s campaign, portraying the idea of a silver lining in the cloud titled “Selalu Ada Bahagia” (there is always happiness). This was also found in the Fashion category by Matahari’s campaign regarding the positivity of staying at home during Ramadan titled “Lebaran Di Rumah Aja, Demi Mereka Yang Kita Sayang” (stay at home during Ramadan, for our loved ones). 

As can be observed, there are certain communication angles that brands can benefit from during Ramadan season with the purpose of conveying the relevant messages to their audience. This becomes more urgent for brands in a world with COVID-19 wherein surviving this pandemic requires a great deal of nationwide effort. When brands participate in reminding its audience and encouraging the safe practices recommended by the government, the nation could take a few steps forward towards recovering. Apart from our findings regarding this year’s consumption behavior, this is also one of the key takeaways from 2020 Ramadan that brands can take into account when reviewing their recent Ramadan strategies and preparing for the “new normal”. 2020 Ramadan may have brought a unique set of customs to the status quo while facing challenges from the pandemic, but Indonesia’s evolving e-commerce capabilities had made Ramadan festive, nonetheless. Thanks to technology, the warmth of Ramadan stays alive and the distance is restored among Indonesian people through a few clicks. 

As Indonesia’s leading e-commerce enabler company, we’re not only focusing our efforts on providing e-commerce solutions, but also on being part of the nation’s solution in real-time. During Ramadan, we seek to restore the distance between brands and consumers by continuing to facilitate businesses across all industries and scales in selling online. With SIRCLO Store, we facilitate local businesses in creating their own brand.com website with ready-to-use templates that we offer at affordable prices. Through SIRCLO Commerce, we facilitate enterprise businesses with end-to-end management in distributing their products through multiple Indonesia's marketplace platforms. Using SIRCLO Chat, we provide a dashboard that’s integrated with WhatsApp Business API to help businesses make in-chat transactions happen while being supported by automatic push notifications and in-chat product catalog features. Being in the dynamic world of e-commerce since 2013 has taught us the necessity of being agile and adaptive. Despite the uncertainty from the current pandemic, it will not deprive us from our utmost responsibility to maintain our dedication and keep improving the steps we take in facilitating the needs of our stakeholders. 

To all businesses alike, let’s keep restoring the distance with technology! If you haven’t optimized e-commerce for your business, SIRCLO is your trusted e-commerce solution. Visit our website for more details: www.sirclo.com


SIRCLO neither provides regulated advice nor guarantee results. The materials we convey reflect general insight and best practice based on information currently available, and do not contain all of the information needed to determine a future course of action. Such information has not been generated or independently verified by SIRCLO and is inherently uncertain and subject to change. SIRCLO has no obligation to update these materials and makes no representation or warranty and expressly disclaims any liability with respect thereto.