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Muslims Stock-Up Before the Fasting Month (2011)

Nielsen LogoKuala Lumpur, Ad spend for rice, cooking oil, spices grew significantly in conjunction with festive purchasing. 44% of Muslim shoppers increase their Ramadan expenses year-on-year More than half of shoppers buy items on discount (61%) and through other promotional offers (50%). Pre-dawn TV viewing grew by 61%; religious programs and movies dominate viewing space.

Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers watch and buy released a survey revealing that 70 percent of Muslim respondents stock up on non-perishable items prior to the fasting month.

One out of two shoppers stocked up one month in advance (July 2011) in anticipation of the fasting month and this extended into fasting period (August 2011) in preparation for the actual Hari Raya celebrations (Chart 1).


“The rising costs of living and raw materials may have prompted almost one-fifth of Muslim consumers (the early planners) to buy non-perishable items earlier than July to counter the possibility of rising cost in the months to follow. Ongoing promotional offers by hypermarkets are one of the pull factors for buying items at lower prices whenever they have some additional budget prior to Ramadan,” said Sandipan Sinha, Associate Director of Retail Measurement Services, Nielsen Malaysia.

“Most importantly, to better observe their religious responsibilities and to spend time together with family, e.g. having pre-dawn meals (Sahur) and breaking fast, half of Muslim consumers were probably driven to purchase both non-perishable and perishable items, frozen food and ambient food products in July in preparation for the cooking of both meals at home during the fasting month in August. Stocking behaviour also occur closer to Hari Raya in anticipation of Hari Raya celebrations. Concerns of a shortage of festive promotional items could be one of the pull factors.”

Nielsen’s Total Store Read 2011 shows that sales of food items including baby food products, non-alcoholic beverages, cooking appliances, cooking ware, personal care and homecare contributed to the peak (week 30-25/7/2011 to 31/7/2011) a week before the commencement of the fasting month.

Home baking is also a big part of the Raya celebration and Nielsen sees strong sales of baking ingredients (categorised under ambient food) over the holiday period.

Apart from certain food items (especially perishable food and confectionery sweet biscuits/snacks) registered higher sales compared to other weeks, sales of clothing & personal accessories, computing & telecommunications, home entertainment, home furnishings & décor, kitchen & table ware also peaked in the fourth week of August (week 34-22/8/2011-28/8/2011). TSR also indicates that gift packs were at it highest sales level of the year in week 34 (Chart 2a and 2b).

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Younger adults and central region Muslims eat-up the stocking-up pie

Findings also show that Muslims in the central region (48%) appear to be stocking up the most compared to the other regions i.e. north (41%), east (39%) and south (26%). Convenient locations, closer to home outlets and easy access once in-store are some of the reasons shoppers from the central regions patronize retailers on a more regular basis for stocking up.

In terms of age groups, almost half of younger adults aged 20-29(46%) and those 30-39 (45%) are increasing their stockpile compared to older groups. Only one-third of Muslims aged 50 and above stockpile.

Rice, cooking aids, seasoning and flavourings fill up the stocking baskets

Staple foods such as rice, cooking oil, and stocks, seasoning and sauces were the top three most stocked products (Chart 3).

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“Studies show that hypermarkets and supermarkets are the most visited retail outlets for the purchase of goods to be stocked. Muslim male shoppers are seen to frequent hypermarkets more for stocked goods. Products such as carbonated soft drinks and snacks are also more widely purchased by men for stocking up compared to their female counterparts. These items are usually served and consumed together on social occasions,” said Sinha.

“On the other hand Muslim females patronize supermarkets more for the purchase of stocked goods. Cooking aids and flavourings such as stocks, seasoning and sauces are the favoured items.”

Ad spend for rice, cooking oil, spices grew significantly in conjunction with festive purchasing

Interestingly, aside from pre-Chinese New Year advertising, the budgets for advertising (based on rate cards) on the top three most stocked categories are significantly higher in the month of July and August. All three categories recorded the highest advertising spend in print media pre-Raya (July: spices and cooking oil; August: rice) while TV advertising spend for cooking oil products noticeably peaked in August (Chart 4).

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Half of respondents aged 30-49 increased their Ramadan expenditure

In terms of expenditure during Ramadan, 44 percent of Muslim respondents have increased their budget year-on-year, 43 percent maintained the status quo while 13 percent managed to reduce their spending. Muslims in their 30s appear to have increased their Ramadan spending the most compared to the previous year, and one out of two said they had increased their budget (Chart 5).

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Prolific sales and promotion-seekers status still intact

Malaysians are the second most prolific promotion-seekers in Asia Pacific, and three in five Muslim respondents said they bought items on discount. Manufacturers’ promotional efforts such as the offer of free gifts bundled with main items have also attracted half of Muslim household shoppers. (Chart 6)

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Discounts matter while recommendations carry weight

“One category which is clearly on top of this discount trend is the Carbonated Soft Drinks category. As per Retail Audit data in 2011, also reflected in the last 2 years, discounting in the category leads to a spike in sales volume during the Ramadan period as compared to its sales value. “The gap of indexed sales value and volume widened in the month of August (Chart 7),” said Sinha.

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“A key point to note is that recommendations by friends and family were cited as the main reason for influencing purchase decisions by one-fourth of respondents, garnishing higher votes than the influence of both print and TV advertising.

Manufacturers who are able to cater to good personal shopping experiences via social media have the edge in this area.”

Eating and viewing and habits up-close

Almost 9 in 10 Muslim respondents said they consumed home cooked food for most meals during the last Ramadan. Ramadan street bazaars were cited as the most popular food outlets among 87 percent respondents who did not consume home cooked food, while two out of five patronized the mamak stall (41%), one-fourth chose Kopitiam (25%), followed by fast food restaurants (23%) and buffets at hotels (8%).

The Ramadan festival also changed the viewing habits of Muslim consumers. Compared to pre-Ramadan, pre-dawn viewing grew by 61 percent during Ramadan2 (Chart 7). Religious programs and movies dominated the viewing space. Among all age groups, 20-34 year old viewership topped the other age groups during Sahur time. Tarawih prayers have also lead to a drop in audience numbers at night.

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Notes: 1 Nielsen measures advertising spending based on published rate cards. Outdoor advertising is based on actual billings.Nielsen began monitoring adspend for selected Pay TV channels in 2010 based on actual broadcast times and commercial spots for the following channels: Effective 1st Jan 2010 – Zee TV, Astro Ria, Astro Prima, Astro Wah Lai Toi, Astro Hua Hee Dai, AXN; Effective 1st Apr 2010 – Star World, National Geographic, Discovery; Effective 1st July 2010 – Diva Universal (formerly known as Hallmark TV); Effective 1st Nov 2010 – Asia Food Channel (AFC); Effective 1st June 2011 – Disney Channel. During periods where bad weather or power outage at the monitoring site occurs, there would be some ads categorized as ‘Siaran Tergendala’ at the product and copyline level, and valued at RM1. Programs aired during this period will be captured based on program logs supplied by the broadcaster.

About the Nielsen Household Omnibus Survey 2011

The Nielsen Household Omnibus Survey 2011 was conducted between 14th October and 9th November, 2011 and polled 600 primary grocery shoppers aged 15 and above throughout rural and urban areas within Peninsular Malaysia. The sample is weighted so as to be representative of household profile in Peninsular Malaysia. The understanding on Ramadan trends are based on the Muslim households, which comprise about 61 percent of the population (sample size of 365 respondents).


Muslim Consumer Nuances Charts (July 2012)
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Nielsen Muslim Consumer Nuances July 2012
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