Marketing Strategies for Different Rituals

Marketing Strategies for Different Rituals


The word ‘ritual’ is often used in religious contexts but it can widely be used to define norms and routines that have been embedded in a culture. Marketing can make use of rituals and routines to turn them into a competitive advantage. Rituals and routines have an emotional core and have value in the daily lives of consumers. Taping into this value can help marketers convert this emotional connection into buying habits, resulting in repeat purchasing. Rituals and routines vary with culture and societies and understanding these variations are one of the crucial approaches to marketing on the global scope. This paper compares rituals in common events in the United States and Saudi Arabia and the implications for marketers for each ritual.



Wedding celebrations are an important event for both U.S and Saudi cultures but the rituals differ significantly. A typical American wedding has the bride in a white gown and the wedding usually involves a legally-mandated person ‘joining’ the bride and groom (Hoesly, 2017). The groom will have a suit on and the two will exchange vows with a crowd as witnesses. Weddings are typically held during the day. For some reason, there are bachelor parties and bridesmaids’ parties in different cities involving flights and hotels. Then at the least one bridal shower. These showers can be exciting and simple held at home with all family members present. They are often hosted by the bridesmaids and decorated, with flowers everywhere. In other places, they are done in a hotel or private club or held in a church hall. But they are important to everyone concerned and people take great pride in how nice everything looks, and how they work with the wedding colors and many more. The bride will often wear a white dress that has a hint of the wedding gown to follow – a bit of ribbon or some small decoration. The cake served can have a hint of the wedding cake, and the color of the frosting. There is the rehearsal dinner the night before. This is often traditionally given by the groom’s parents for the out-of-town guests and the wedding party. It is often a much bigger event, more casual but can consist of more than 50 people. On the day of the wedding, people gather at the church or the site for the wedding, the wedding takes place with bridesmaids and groomsmen in attendance (Hoesly, 2017). After the wedding, there is a full-length photoshoot after the ceremony. Sometimes there is a cocktail hour to cover this time and help the guests get through it.

In Saudi Arabia, it is a norm to hold weddings at night and it is at this event that the groom presents dowry to the bride. Decorations using henna are also a norm and women typically wear traditional gowns. They also gift the bride jewelry which then becomes her property (Rowell, 2016). Public weddings are usually segregated with men and women celebrating in different spaces. Weddings here in Saudi Arabia are extremely extravagant affairs with the families going all out to make the event look like a dream no less. The wedding party typically starts after the isha prayer, approximately around 8 pm. Guests keep trickling in and settle down and are treated to frequent hors d’oeuvre brought in by prettily dressed maids. Sometimes even expensive chocolates from places like Chopin and Patchi are brought in. Live music is played in the gents’ section and the goings-on of the gents’ side are shown on huge screens placed on either side of the ladies’ section. The ladies’ section is not usually shown to the gents’ side though. Arab women in this part of the world are very modestly dressed and are seldom seen without wearing an abaya.

Guests sit around the tables chatting away while some people take to the ramp to ‘dance’. Dancing in weddings in Saudi Arabia involves mild swaying and walking up and down the ramp that is placed centrally in the hall as a bride walk. Young unmarried girls usually take to the stage and sway gracefully while prospective mothers-in-law in the audience assess them discreetly before approaching their mothers (Tawfiq & Marcketti, 2017). As is the case in most arranged marriages around the world, many wedding parties have been witness to several other matches being made. There will be a photo section somewhere immediately outside the hall where an area would have been decorated just for taking pictures. By around 10 or 11 pm, the bride makes her formal entry. The lights are dimmed with the spotlight focused on the bride. The boisterous music shifts to something more lilting and romantic to suit her dramatic entry.

Brides in Saudi Arabia wear elaborate white gowns with or without a bridal veil. The groom then makes his entry along with the closest male relatives of the bride (father and brothers) called mahram. He sits by the side of the bride who has downcast eyes and speaks minimally. Sometimes, a wedding cake is brought in and it is cut together by the bride and the groom with a sword (Tawfiq & Marcketti, 2017). There is a further blessing by family elders and then the bride is escorted to the bridal chamber (usually a luxury suite booked in the same hotel) by the groom. After the bride and groom have left, the feasting begins amidst more dancing and revelry.



Marketing Strategies

Marketing for American and Saudi weddings, therefore, is quite different. In the U.S, focusing on the venue, expensive white gowns, and the groom’s suit is crucial. When targeting a Saudi wedding, the focus should be mostly on jewelry and decorations as well as traditional gowns. However, in both events, the marketer should present high-end products for both as wedding events in both cultures present rituals that display extravagance (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). Therefore, the quality and pricing for items for Saudi and American weddings are high and prestigious. On social media, marketers need to come up with a hashtag for the wedding in either United States or Saudi Arabia and tell everyone about it. They need a suitable hashtag or two and promote it on social media channels, in newsletters, on posters at the venue, and all the wedding materials. Marketers should make sure their attendees know about the hashtag and encourage them to use it when posting about it.

Marketers also need to set up a social wall to display at wedding events. They can do this by collecting social media posts on a social wall and displaying it on live screens at weddings. They need to encourage their audience to share their experience using a hashtag and watch their posts pop up on the screen. An event wall is a fantastic ice breaker because it sparks conversation and creates a sense of community (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). Setting up a photo booth at the wedding venues is also an effective marketing strategy. A photo booth motivates people to take lots of pictures which can then be shared on social media. Marketers can set up a photo booth at a wedding, add some props and encourage people to use it and have fun. They should also remember to ask the audience to use a hashtag when they share their pics so they will show up on their social wall.

Pre-show marketing is the first step in bringing awareness to the wedding event or trade show displays. This can be done through social media, direct mail, or by taking an ad out in a local paper (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). The marketing campaign should begin about a month before the event to give the audience enough time to prepare for it. Everyone likes free stuff, so marketers should have giveaway items on hand to give out to attendees. They do not have to be expensive but should be related to the marketer’s line of work and have their logo imprinted on it. They can also take videos of the wedding ceremonies display and show the audience why they should stop by their display system.


Birthday Celebrations


Birthday celebrations are a norm in the U.S but are discouraged in Saudi Arabia. On the one hand, most Americans will celebrate their birthday annually and commemorate it with cake and presents (Stearns, 2019). Blowing candles is a common ritual. On the other hand, for religious reasons, Saudis are discouraged to celebrate their birthdays as they do not align with Islam tradition and doctrine. However, those who celebrate their birthdays have similar rituals as in the U.S. Most Americans celebrate their birthday in private with their family or close friends. However, there is a large proportion of high school and college students who go out with friends to celebrate, and often there may be local events such as bars and clubs that will host a ‘birthday bash’ event catering to these crowds. Most Americans also celebrate their birthday with a cake, and it’s not uncommon in the United States for the phrase ‘Happy Birthday’ to precede a sweet dessert (instead of a wish for long and prosperous life). Also, many Americans get together to celebrate someone’s birthday with a surprise party where the guest of honor is led to believe that the gathering is for a different purpose.

Americans also celebrate birthdays for different reasons one of them being for memories. Since Americans measure milestones in terms of years, a birthday is a reminder that they have lived another year out– survived another 365 (or 366) days. Time to reflect on all the big and small moments– that promotion, or the time when they got their first salary, when they took their parents out on a vacation, or when they finally learned how to make the perfect sunny-side-up eggs. It is also for reconnecting: “Congratulations” and “Happy Birthday” are the most frequently used phrases to start conversations with long-lost friends. Friends with whom there is no common ground to reconnect– the high school “best bud”, past neighbors, classmates in college (Stearns, 2019). A birthday is one time of the year when despite a person’s successes or failures, people do not just remember an individual during birthdays in the United States, they also come forward and initiate conversation. It is an opportunity for dialogue for those brief 24 hrs, after which both parties recede into their respective lives. So, they try to make as many conversations go past the simple “Happy Birthday – Thank You” route. During birthdays, Americans think about their Future. Birthdays are also an indication that individuals have used up another year, and have that many fewer days to achieve whatever they envision for themselves. Probably a great time to re-evaluate their goals, and set targets for the coming year.


Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategies for this event do not vary in the two cultures and hence marketers can use cake and presents as the main commodities for birthday celebrations. A crucial aspect of birthday celebrations is organizing and hosting parties, especially surprise parties. The marketer has to create an interesting idea for a birthday party or actualize their client’s wishes by offering not only the products but services that fit their expectations (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). One of the most effective ways is to come up with an event website. The event website will act as the main touchpoint that marketers have for their customers’ attendees. There are rarely any events that do not need an event website. Marketers need to make an event website that has an easy-to-navigate user interface to help the attendees get all details about their birthday. There are many tools out there that makes creating an event website fairly simple. Birthdays can also be marketed through email marketing. Marketers need to use online email marketing software to easily manage the emails and engage attendees. Also, social media is an effective strategy, Marketers need to identify the social media platform that has the target demographic and get started. They need to keep posting consistent and use relevant hashtags to ensure their content garners the maximum outreach for people with upcoming birthdays. Another strategy is through digital Ads. If a marketer has a marketing budget, then they have to make sure they are using a part of it to run digital ads that can get them more registrations.


New Year’s Eve


New Year is considered the new beginning of a lot of things and is one of the most popular public holidays of the year. All over the world, it is often celebrated on the midnight of 31st December and on 1st January. Different countries have different New Year’s traditions for this holiday, whether it is a family party, grabbing drinks, playing with fire, or smashing plates. New Year traditions of a country reflect the cultural heritage of the Country (Ghouse, 2017). To celebrate the ringing of New Year, people are sharing some unique traditions of some countries. New Year’s Eve celebrations are another event that presents a significant difference between Saudi norms and American celebrations. In the U.S the New Year’s eve’s rituals include partying, elegant formal dress, and champagne marking the inception of the New Year. The Islamic calendar is quite different from the Gregorian Calendar and this means that the religious Saudi New Year falls on a different day than the Gregorian Calendar new year (Ghouse, 2017). Nevertheless, although there may be no significant celebrations of the holiday in Saudi culture, it is a ritual for many families to come together and share a meal. The main difference is that while Americans hold huge celebrations and fireworks for the New Year, Saudis may not present the same enthusiasm.

In the U. States, many individuals are likely to attend New Year’s Eve parties. They usually drink quite a lot and wait until midnight to say Happy New Year and kiss each other. There is a also special ball in New York City called the Waterford Crystal Ball that is set up on a tower in Times Square that drops at midnight. People start to secure their locations in the square the day before. The event is also televised across the country so everyone can watch the ball fall (Ghouse, 2017).  Several television broadcasts show people celebrating New Year’s Eve across the country. Americans and have several time zones, so not everyone gets to midnight at the same time. These shows feature lots of singers. New Year’s Eve parties are quite common, often with costumes and watching the Times Square thing as part of the party. Husbands and wives traditionally kiss. On New Year’s Day, probably the most widespread activity is watching football—that is, American football, not soccer. There are several college bowls games on New Year’s Day, and usually also a couple of NFL games. Pre-game festivities for some of the college bowl games include parades, the best known of which is the Rose Bowl Parade. People tend to sleep late, because of parties the night before.

There are regional traditions of eating particular foods for good luck in the new year. The most famous TV party is called New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and was hosted for 40 years by Dick Clark. It is now know as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in his honor.  Once midnight strikes fireworks start to go off all over the place. In Texas, for example, individuals can only buy fireworks for New Year’s Eve celebrations (Ghouse, 2017). They have a big display downtown run by the city, but many people buy them and shoot them off themselves, often illegally, because individuals are not allowed to do this within the city limits. Because many people get drunk the police are usually out in force catching drunk drivers (although they usually leave the people shooting off fireworks alone.) They do have a special service on New Year’s Eve that offers discounted or free taxi service to get people home safely

In other places in the U.S, New Year’s Eve is marked by having a get-together with friends and family to mark a new year and celebrate achievements. Religious people, thank the deity or deities they believe in and pray for a better year. They may eat and drink as well. Often to excess (Ghouse, 2017). In some areas of the United States, many prepare a meal of a leafy green vegetable along with black-eyed peas (Otherwise known as a cowpea or goat pea). It is a long-time tradition to encourage a more successful financial year. The greens represent physical paper money and the peas represent coin money.


Marketing Strategies

Marketers should identify both American and Saudi New Year celebrations and incorporate them in marketing strategies. Most marketers in the Western context will send a ‘Happy New Year’ email and offer New Year sales and discounts to customers. In the Saudi context, it would also be necessary to recognize the holiday although a new-year party and sale may not work (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). Understanding the level of enthusiasm and celebration for the event is crucial for this specific holiday.  To market New Year’s Eve events, marketers can use national sites. They can list their events on the largest event listing sites like Eventbrite, Zvents, Eventful, and Craigslist. Even they are not selling tickets on Eventbrite (and other sites), they can list the events and sensitive the audience to register and buy tickets for the New Year’s events.  The event listing websites have 4 major benefits including ranking well on search engines like Google and their feeds getting picked up by other local and national event listing websites. Also, they have built-in traffic from people looking for events in that area and some sites have built-in affiliate traffic of people/groups that will sell tickets to the events. Marketers can also use local sites. They can search for local sites that will allow them to list their events. This includes local newspapers, radio stations, community sites, and many more. Each major city has tons of sites where marketers can list their events for free (Haneef & Ansari, 2019). Another effective strategy is through street teams. Marketers need to get a street team to distribute flyers and post posters throughout the target area and et promotion team to attend similar events before the function to help promote the event. They can even be wearing shirts/hats/etc that promote the New Year’s Eve event.


Birth of a Child


The birth of a child is celebrated in many cultures including the U.S and Saudi Arabia. The rituals detailed for the U.S include financial gifts such as saving bonds and a silver spoon which is a tradition for wishing the baby prosperity during their baptism. When a woman is giving birth to a baby, in the U.S, the family usually holds a celebration. But before birth, there is a baby shower party where people bring gifts like baby clothes and other baby stuff. Usually, food is served and some showers have games. In others, guests do a craft like decorating a onesie. A close friend keeps track of the gifts and who brought them so the new mother can send thank them notes afterward. When the baby is born, she or he is usually passed around among the guests to be cuddled. (Anthropologists may compare this to a bonding ceremony for the community). The presents (wrapped in baby-theme decorative paper, usually with pacifiers as gift decorations) are opened and passed around to be admired, which is wonderful to see, as some have handmade quilts and others have personally made nice baby clothes (Cohen, 2018). When a baby is born, the parents are not the only ones who are excited. Family members including grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends are eager to welcome the newest member of the family. A birth celebration is one of the most old-styled traditions in which family members and friends gather to express their joy to the new member of the family.

In Saudi Arabia, the parents usually organize an event for family and close friends where an animal is slaughtered in celebration, child naming done, and the child is provided with the first haircut (Islamic Aid, 2021). In both events, friends and family come together to celebrate and gifts are a norm. The American context, however, has the uniqueness of financial gifts.

Marketing Strategies

The marketing strategy for this event should include gifting and providing options for financial security and the future of the child. If the target customers are celebrating childbirth, the marketer should send congratulatory messages in both U.S and Saudi contexts. In the U.S, unlike Saudi Arabia, arrangements for the unborn baby could be part of the marketing strategy (Cohen, 2018). These include maternity and birth options and financial security. Respecting the parents’ privacy before the child is born in the Saudi context, however, is crucial.

Valentine’s Day


Lastly, Valentine’s Day is a much-welcome celebration in the U.S but rather a controversial one in Saudi Arabia. On the one hand, rituals in the U.S include buying flowers, candy, and cards as a sign of love and gifting loved ones. Valentine’s day is celebrated universally as the ‘day of love. Dedicated to St. Valentine who laid down his life so that love could prevail, it is a very anticipated day for both youngsters and grown-ups alike. To Americans, love is the most widely available emotion in the universe and a look at the nature and organisms around tells them that love is abundant (Gillespie, 2017). Most Americans recognize and celebrate valentine’s day by recognizing and appreciating all other forms of love around them including the ‘care’ of a mother, the ‘concern’ of a father, the ‘attention’ of a teacher to the ‘unsung sacrifice’ of a soldier.

On the other hand, religious law in Saudi Arabia has prohibited Valentine’s Day in the past because it is associated with Christian celebrations (Hassam, 2019). Despite the restrictions, some people go ahead to celebrate the day in Saudi Arabia. It depends on a person’s perception of what Valentine’s Day is. If an individual believes in the history of St. Valentine, then of course it is not right. But if individuals just go along to join in the atmosphere, it should be fine. The modern world has changed the concept of Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate with individuals’ spouses. People just simply celebrate the day with friends or family (Gillespie, 2017). Just like how Christmas, most Saudi Arabians do not celebrate it but they do respect it for their Christian friends, like how they respect their Eid. They join in the atmosphere and fun.


Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategies should be applied in the American context but not in the Saudi context. For Valentine’s Day, the main marketing strategy should be to ‘sell’ a special experience for lovers. The main aim of this ritual in American culture is to appreciate loved ones and could go beyond flowers and include thoughtful gifting. Therefore, marketers should capitalize on these norms to attract potential customers.   Search for local sites that will allow marketers to list all their special Valentine’s events. This includes local newspapers, radio stations, community sites, and more.  Each major city has tons of sites where a marketer can list his events for free. Also, social media sites are effective for marketing Valentines’ events.  Marketers can use social media (Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn, etc.) to promote their valentines’ events. They can also run sweepstakes campaigns to give away tickets to Valentine’s event(s) in exchange for sharing with friends and/or email addresses (can be automatic with the right software tools). Another strategy is through the use of SMS/Voice.

Markers can use text messaging to promote their valentines’ events because of the high open and read rate, run contesting and/or discount deals through SMS to build list, use voice broadcasting to send out invites, reminders, and/or upcoming valentines events updates such as gateways, dinner nights and concerts. Marketers should make sure they have permission from subscribers to call them to comply with the law (at least in the US). Paid Ads are also an effective strategy to market valentines’ events. Marketers can use social media ads (FB, LinkedIn, Twitter) to promote their social media sweepstakes campaigns, use Search Engine marketing to do the same, and promote sweepstakes and contests instead of Valentine’s event itself. If marketers have the budget, they need to think about paid ads on radio, newspapers, and event local cable TV spots.

Also, there is email marketing which is often viewed as the old tried and true advertising method. There is nothing new in email marketing but it is a must for regular event promoters. For best results marketers should be sure to do Split Testing (Subject & Body), segmenting, and test day and time of day to gauge their optimal open and click-through rates. They also need to use other promotional techniques. Another technique is using social media at the valentine’s event. For groups that do an ongoing event, marketers should use tools to encourage social sharing during the event like rewarding guests with a free drink for posting on Foursquare or uploading a picture via Instagram, and more.


Rituals and routines differ with culture and marketers should be aware of the differences for effective use of marketing strategies. American culture and Saudi culture are quite different in terms of rituals and differentiating the two can allow for effective marketing capitalizing on rituals. The discussed differences highlight the different ways marketers can target an American audience as well as a Saudi Arabian audience in different events. Events are marked with rituals and rituals have an emotional value. Marketers should strive to turn that emotional connection into buying habits.



Islamic Aid. (2021). Aqiqah (Haqiqa, Aqeeqa).

Hoesly, D. (2017). Your Wedding, Your Way: Personalized, Nonreligious Weddings through the Universal Life Church. In Organized Secularism in the United States (pp. 253-278). De Gruyter.

Tawfiq, W., & Marcketti, S. (2017). Meaning and symbolism in bridal costumes in western Saudi Arabia. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal35(3), 215-230.

Haneef, S. K., & Ansari, Z. (2019). Marketing strategies of Expo 2020 Dubai: a comprehensive study. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes.

Cohen, J. (2018). The mother of all challenges. Science, 360(639400, 1164- 1169. DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6394.1164

Gillespie, K. (2017). Valentines Day (First Edition). London: Weigl Publishers.

Napoles, R. D. (2018). Social Media Marketing Handbook for Art and Cultural Events (First Edition). London: Transnational Press London

Rowell, M. (2016, Sept. 6). Enter the spectacular world of Saudi weddings. National Geographic.

Ghouse, M. (2017, Dec. 29). Fatwa: Should Muslims celebrate New Year? Huff Post.

Hassam, B. (2019, Feb. 14). Celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t always straightforward for some Muslims – here’s why. The Independent.

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