The global Muslim community is an intriguing market segment for brand marketers and their organisations. When one looks at just the numbers it’s enough to make a savvy marketer salivate imagining the potential growth.
Yet, inspite of the segments’ purchasing power and potential opportunity for a brand to have strong regional and global footprint, quality brand experiences seem to be missing.
Are brands simply not listening to the Muslim consumer?
The global Muslim population is often cited as a ‘global community’. It actually is not a homogeneous market segment that can be qualified by one primary differentiator such as age, language or skin colour, or through attitudes and behaviour that are in accordance to that differentiator.
Unlike other cultural consumer segments the global Muslim consumer segment is made up of a myriad of sociocultural sub-sets that have been influenced by emigration and adaptation to social and environmental norms of current place of residence and livelihood.
This adaptation has resulted in today’s Muslim consumer who has a strong, unique, individual value system and identity that is based and governed by the values of Islam. Muslims’ own belief in the significance of Islam in their lives is pervasive. Coupled with the pre-dominantly young age of the segment and one has a market segment that is begging to be listened to properly and catered to.
An example– Mipsterz
“In The Name of Faith and Fun”—a JWT Intelligence MENA report published in April 2014, JWT’s Brand Intelligence takes an in-depth look at the growing culture of young and hip Muslims who are bringing forth an integration of faith and fun.
Quoting the report—“ Their social minds, ethical consumption patters and fervor for a more inclusive community, poses opportunity for brands to integrate the Mipsterzs’ needs into a wider strategy that accommodates their spectrum of Muslim values, which are in fact desirable by any societal measure”.
The Mipsterz sub-culture is not only in the West but in MENA and Egypt fueled by young, progressive, tech-savvy Millennial Arab.
This profile of progressive youth who are tech-savvy and millennial are soon to become the mainstream of the global Muslim community as more and more of them enter the workforce around the globe.
For a brand, given the sheer numbers of this community, it becomes critical to understand the logic and psyche of this group which have been boldly self-expressing in order to create experiences that endears the brand with the individual and creates a strong relationship.
What’s the correlation between relationship marketing and the Muslim consumer?
As competition heightens brands, operating in the Islamic economy space and primarily targeting the global Muslim community, need to adopt more strategic customer-centric approaches to meet the pace of change. Enhancing personal relationships with customers is very important in attracting and retaining customer loyalty and to secure competitive success. Whilst brand advocacy is a much used tactic in mainstream brands, Islamic brand advocacy is in a nascent stage.
This is where marketing to the global Muslim segment differs a great deal in comparison to other consumer segments. A strong emotional attachment needs to be formed. In order to do that brands have to listen and listen well to the individual cultural statements being expressed by the Muslim consumer and create experiences around that in order to resonate and engage the individual.
Be human and emotional
The way forward to establish a strong brand in this community is to understand the experience the brand needs to provide. This experience can be developed through:
- Understanding the cultural background of the consumer depending on their sociocultural background and their physical environment For e.g. whilst the core brand values and message may be the same across different market points globally, the service approach and brand interaction experience will have to be tailor-made.
- Commonalities of values has to be clearly communicated and perceived. For e.g. the core values of the brand should be aligned with the value system of the consumer in a particular environment and the experience should strengthen that.
To do the above a critical element in the business operations is the employee.
The way an employee represents the brand, creates the experience and the perception. This is where, most often, the drop occurs!
Businesses tend to focus on technical competencies, regulatory adherence and on pushing sales oft forgetting that business today has changed a lot. Today business is conducted by two human beings with a lot of emotions driving their respective actions.
With more and more global forums now focusing on how the Islamic economy can step up and aid the global Muslim community, the question that goes begging at the moment is—are brands listening to the Muslim consumer?