Google explains Ramzan’s effect on online habits

Fasting month, or Ramzan, is around the corner again in the Muslim world. In Indonesia, it’s scheduled to start on June 7, culminating in the biggest Muslim holiday, Idul Fitri.

For those who celebrate, the month means following a strict fasting schedule – no food or drink from sunrise to sunset. It also means spending more time with family and often involves travelling to see relatives.

Daily life follows a different rhythm during Ramzan. This change is reflected in people’s online behaviour – and who could have better data on this than Google?

Today, Google’s Indonesia office shared insights from last year’s Ramzan season.

Online, Ramzan starts early

Officially, Ramzan begins at a specific date, but interest in Ramzan-related topics rises earlier. This is the interest curve Google Indonesia observed last year:


Generally, the surge periods get longer and the spikes more intense each year, Google’s head of industry, Henky Prihatna, added.

This trend correlates with the overall growing number of Indonesians connected to the internet. The length of the surge period also increases because people are using the internet for more purposes, for example booking tickets ahead of time.

Demand for online shopping lights up

Ramzan is a great time for e-commerce. People are in the mood to spend money and will search for essential items like train tickets and gifts to bring home.

Google observed that pretty much all shopping categories experience a seasonal surge, but the ones that grow most are clothing (up 29 percent) and travel (up 30 percent).

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Henky adds that he observes an increasing interest in categories like beauty, health, and wellness, which he expects to become even more pronounced in the upcoming season.

Need for entertainment

Perhaps less obvious: Ramzan is also a time people crave online entertainment.

Streaming video peaks a week before the fasting month ends and the Idul Fitri festivities begin. In Indonesia, this holiday is also called Lebaran.

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Overall, mobile video watch time goes up by 13 percent during Ramzan, says Google.

Everyone thinks about food

Ironically, the fasting month is a time in which people think a lot about food.

Google found a fourfold increase in search frequency for terms like “menu for breaking fast” and recipes for dishes typically served during the Idul Fitri festivities. But searches for year-round favorites also get a boost.

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Seasonal treats

Are Ramzan food search patterns in Indonesia all that different from, let’s say, the US?

Let’s compare an everyday Indonesian dish, an Idul Fitri speciality, with an American staple and a seasonal dish like pumpkin pie. This is data I pulled up myself using Google Trends.

We see obvious spikes for seasonal foods in both US and Indonesia. Pumpkin pie’s popularity goes through the roof in November (Thanksgiving), while ketupat (a form of rice cake) spikes in Ramzan.

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But while hamburgers become a little less interesting during Thanksgiving, all-year foods like Indonesia’s rendang (a slow-cooked beef curry) roughly follow the Ramzan trend. Indonesians, apparently, are fond of any type of food in the fasting month.

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