Empathy in the Midst of COVID-19 Impacted Holidays Episode 3: Ramadan – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

Empathy in the Midst of COVID-19 Impacted Holidays Episode 3: Ramadan

As the global pandemic continues, we have again reached out to our global network to run a short Empathy LAB to explore how consumers are feeling about the spring religious holidays in light of COVID-19. This is the final installment in our series, which has also focused on Passover and Easter over the last few weeks, and addresses the global Muslim observation of Ramadan, captured on video with consumers living in the UK, Singapore, and Kenya.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the month of Ramadan. Typically, the notions of sacrifice, worship and charity are all stitched together with an omnipresent spirit of community and congregation. The 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe share the united belief of ‘One Ummah’ – one community – for whom Ramadan is the ultimate communal gathering. So how will the Muslim community approach the holiest month of the year under lockdown?

Here are some other examples of how we feel behaviour will change with the first ever global Remote Ramadan:

  • With many mosques already closed for over a month, Imams will continue to lead typically congregational Friday Jummahs where Muslims can follow the online sermons at home.
  • Friends and families will log onto video platforms at sunset to share the Iftaar experience of breaking fast together.
  • Muslim charities will continue to volunteer by offering religious learning to Muslims of all ages teaching them how to pray and read the Holy Quran.
  • Imams will upload videos offering tips and daily reminders relating to Ramadan (e.g. the importance of fasting, nutritional guidance, fitness videos, quizzes and online challenges).
  • Personal trainers will reach out to the community to run online training sessions an hour or so before Iftaar (breaking of the fast) to quickly replenish burned off energy.
  • The allocation of domestic chores is expected to change with more men taking up some of the tasks as they are no longer able to attend their required longer Taraweeh prayers.
  • The closure of mosques is particularly disheartening for those living below the poverty line who depend on Iftaar meals prepared by volunteers in mosque kitchens.

Understandably, Muslims are disappointed that the communal events of Ramadan, such as breaking fast with loved ones and gathering to worship at mosques, will change significantly this year. However, they also highlight that despite having to drastically alter these beloved traditions, the religious aspects of Ramadan remain incredibly important, and may even provide unique opportunities for Muslims that do not live with family or other Muslims to focus more on their individual spiritual development.

This silver lining is further supported in this article from The Guardian, in which secretary general for the MCB (Muslim Council of Britain) notes that “This Ramadan will be at a slower pace. It will give us more time for reflection and the opportunity to be closer to God.” He explains that he will be spending Ramadan at home with his immediate family due to the lockdown, as opposed to his usual practice of visiting different mosques every day.

Another positive development is that Imams across the globe have gone to great lengths to ensure that opportunities for worship still abound in a safe, virtual environment that can be embraced from home. And they have encouraged Muslims to find ways to enjoy time with their loved ones, albeit over Zoom, FaceTime, or the other virtual tools at their disposal.

Empathy LAB is PRS IN VIVO’s proprietary video ethnography tool, designed to capture real people doing real things in real environments. It is one of the modules in our new LAB Suite of consultancy services built around a behaviour-centric framework providing insight right across our clients’ product life cycles.

The LAB Framework (Leveraging Authentic Behaviour), is built on sound principles of behavioural science, where observation of real consumer behaviour consistently acts as a crucial starting point.

The approach affords clients a means of ensuring that they can Immerse and Inspire, Build and Iterate, Guide and Refine, and Always Stay Ahead through qualitative interpretation of authentic consumer behaviour wherever they are in the development of new products and shopper experiences.  During an industry-wide pause in face-to-face research, our LAB suite enables agile and intimate access to consumers, living their lives and sharing their insights, emotions and motivations.

If you would like to know more about the LAB Suite of behavioural qualitative solutions, please reach out and we can arrange a chat.

We hope you have a safe and blessed Ramadan!

Matt Michaud is Senior Vice President - Head of Behavioural Qualitative at PRS IN VIVO, a BVA Group company, providing consultancy in the application of behavioural science product and shopper experience.