By: Jochen Bischoff, Head of Consumer Business Partnerships MENA – Global Business Solutions at TikTok

Ramadan is a magical moment that transcends boundaries, bringing millions of people across the globe together to celebrate the Holy Month. It is also the season for shopping, as consumer spending historically enjoys a boost during this month – driving opportunities for brands to move products off shelves. In fact, research by IPSOS found that while TikTok users had planned to spend around $1,600 last Ramadan, they actually ended up spending considerably more (1.6x).          

Thus, it comes as no surprise that each consecutive Ramadan, we see every brand wanting to make their mark, to join this moment of togetherness and remain at the heart of the conversation, rather than disrupting it. Whether it is an F&B brand, a bank, or a sports retailer, the goal has traditionally been to embed product and brand in a key Ramadan moment – a family moment, an iftar moment, a shopping moment, and so on. 

This has led to a phenomenon that becomes amplified with every passing Ramadan – a phenomenon we like to call ‘the paradox of belonging.’

What is the paradox of belonging?

With everyone trying to belong to a single moment that’s shared by thousands of brands, everyone ends up showing up in the same way. This is what the paradox of belonging is all about. In the quest to belong, brands end up losing their true essence, overshadowed by the superficial scenarios and typical visuals associated with the moment – think large family gatherings at an iftar table, colorful lanterns, or crescent moons and stars.


So how can you be part of the crowded Ramadan moment, yet remain true to your brand and stand out?

This may seem like an impossible task, but it is a true story on TikTok. Brands on TikTok can embrace the multi-faceted nature of the Ramadan moment – the endless possibilities in which it can be enjoyed, the diverse faces and voices that bring it to life, and the many communities it can be expressed through. 

Limitless moments

The impact of TikTok, and its communities, on culture drives new moments to come to life everyday – but especially during a cultural occasion like Ramadan. And by owning any of these limitless moments, brands have the chance to #BelongDifferently.

For example, a cooking or food moment is not only made for a mom – it could be made for a hungry, multi-tasking gamer; an amateur chef; or a makeup enthusiast with a newfound passion for baking. Brands can tap into a range of hashtags to capture these moments, such as #Foodie (9M video views to date), #CookWithMe (7M video views), and #DessertMaker (135K video views).

Additionally, a shopping moment is not just a supermarket errand; it’s a fun unboxing experience to share with others. Think #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt (15M video views), #Unboxing (3M+ video views), and #RamadanShopping (806K+ video views).

On TikTok, an iftar moment is not always a picture-perfect family meal. It could instead be an unfiltered and humorous exchange inspired by the relatable interactions of family members who are notorious for escaping the post-iftar clean up. Users share these authentic, relatable Ramadan moments under hashtags like #RamadanHumour (843K+ video views), #Memes (15M video views), #RealStory (2M video views), and #Relatable (2M video views).

And an entertainment moment is not only made for a TV show with a star-studded cast; anyone – any creator – could be the lead actor of their own ‘mousalsal,’ or show, with hashtags like #Vlog and #DayInMyLife garnering 56M and 22M+ video views to date, respectively.

The four C’s

But what does ‘belonging differently’ look like in practice? How can brands anchor themselves in the relevance of Ramadan, while maintaining their unique identity?

To do so, brands need to strategically utilize the four key C’s in their Ramadan marketing efforts – namely Content, Creators, Communities, and Consumers. 

Brands can bring a fresh twist to Ramadan content by utilizing the platform’s native genres and creative formats. For example, marketers can re-imagine brand elements by marrying them with creative features, popular sounds and special lingo. This approach to differentiated relevance pays off; according to a TikTok study conducted in MENA last year, 8 out of 10 significant ad recall uplifts had TikTok Native Creatives.

In Ramadan, the relatability and authenticity of creators goes a long way, as users look to them for everything from iftar recipes to unboxing videos to comedy skits. Whether it’s generating widespread awareness, boosting engagement, or increasing sales, creators can help brands drive business results across the marketing funnel. In fact, campaigns that unleash the power of diverse creator voices see the most success, with creator-led content scoring 2.1x the uplift in ad recall vs. non-native content, according to research by IPSOS.

Brands can also #BelongDifferently by inviting their audience to tell their story. Communities are the core element that makes TikTok as hyper-participatory as it is, and from #FoodTok to #GamerTok, to everything in between, there isn’t a better time to harness the power of communities and subcultures than Ramadan – the season of togetherness. 

Finally, the consumer is at the heart of it all. With the evolution of content and the digital landscape, we now see ‘prosumers’ who actively participate in creating and engaging with brand content that resonates with them. Brands can tap into the desire of users to express themselves through a suite of TikTok ad solutions, such as a Branded Hashtag Challenge, a Branded Effect, or a Spark Ad.

In a nutshell

All brands want to get in on that Ramadan magic, but they need to be careful not to lose themselves in the process. This Holy Month, brands can take their place in the shared festive moment, yet thrive in the infinite opportunities for differentiation offered by a platform that is as diverse and inclusive as it gets. And these limitless possibilities can be activated and brought to life through content, community and culture.