New research by Sila Insights examines the changing lifestyle priorities of Gen Z and millennials during Ramadan
Posted on 2023 Apr,12

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Sila Insights, the Dubai-based AI-powered consumer intelligence company, today unveiled the findings of The Ramadan Shift, a thought-provoking study that examined the changing lifestyle priorities of Gen Z and millennials during the Holy Month.

According to the study, Ramadan pursuits are becoming more individualistic, reflecting changing demographics, media consumption habits and lifestyle choices. This is underpinned by the finding that young Arabs now prioritise friendships over family gatherings and prefer gaming, sports and TikTok, to traditional habits such as watching movies and TV series.

Using proprietary AI-powered Arabic-native language processing, Sila Insights analysed Arabic tweets, Instagram posts and TikTok videos from across the Arab world, from Ramadan 2022 to date. In all, the sentiment, emotion, and dialect (considered a substitute for country of origin) of nearly 2 million online conversations using the word ‘Ramadan’, in Arabic or English, were tracked. The posts had an estimated reach of more than 22 million people and 6.2 billion views.

Paul Kelly, CEO and Founder of Sila, said the study is one of the thought leadership initiatives by the company that highlights how its proprietary AI-powered consumer intelligence is disrupting traditional market research. “Our goal is to make insights and marketing in the Arab world more effective with deep Arabic consumer intelligence and influence. This will bring real value to big data and support brands with actionable insight to drive their growth across the region and beyond.”

He added: “The findings of our new study will help organisations and businesses connect more strongly with Gen Zers during the Ramadan season and guide tactical decisions such as media spending. When it comes to Millennials, they can address the financial responsibilities of celebrating Ramadan. But what really stands out, is the need to prioritise the quality of the Ramadan experience for all.”

The research also found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of post-Millennials appear increasingly nostalgic for Ramadan experiences of the past. They long for a stronger sense of community and to go back to Ramadan traditions.

Meanwhile, a majority (79%) of Millennials (aged over 30) worry about the financial pressures of celebrating Ramadan, such as the cost of eating out and gifting. Just over one in four (29%) of this cohort are likely to be nostalgic for the Ramadan of yesteryear.

Although their Ramadan priorities differ, Gen Zers and Millennials share the same passion for the values of Ramadan. More than two-thirds (69%) of their online conversations concern spirituality, with the rest being about stronger community connections during the Holy Month.

The most popular topics in the context of spirituality are practices such as dua’a (the offering of informal prayers and supplications), followed by religious obligations, such as the profession of one’s faith, the five obligatory prayers, performing zakat (alms), fasting and the Hajj pilgrimage.

Specific to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Gen Zers (youth below the age of 30) prefer to spend more time with friends than at family gatherings, and increasingly enjoy video games, sports and TikTok. During the study period, the consumption of TikTok Ramadan posts rocketed to 5.17 billion, with each post generating more than 707,497 engagements. 

Reflecting the rising popularity of TikTok, online conversations about watching TV series – a traditional Ramadan activity – are diminishing, especially among Gen Zers. TV is now the most popular conversation topic for Millennials in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.   

Across all Ramadan posts, the predominant emotion was ‘excitement’, which was especially strong in the Emirati, Bahraini and Yemeni dialects. The study also found that conversations about Ramadan start long before the Holy Month, although peak TikTok views occur during the first week.

Sila Insights’ study resonates with the findings of the 14th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic, its over 200 million youth.

Last year’s survey found that nearly half (41%) of young Arabs aged 18 to 24 view religion as central to their identity, while nearly two-thirds (65%) believe preserving the region’s religious and cultural identity is more important than creating a more globalised society. The research also highlighted the growing popularity of TikTok, with the number of young Arabs saying they use the short-form video content platform more than doubling in three years.