Don’t Shoot Your Brand In The Foot!

Whole Foods Market— a natural & organic products retailer in USA– announced a Ramadan promotion (on July 27) of their products targeting the American Muslim community.

On Aug 8th this was the headline in “The Huffington Post”-

Whole Foods Abandons Ramadan Marketing Campaign

It was strange to read this news!

Strange, but not unexpected. Given the image Islam has (in US), mainstream brands looking to grow by penetrating the highly lucrative American Muslim  consumer segment, need to undertake detailed Brand Risk Analysis.

Whole Foods should have undertaken a social risk analysis wherein they should have evaluated for acceptance of the product range on offer and the use of the Ramadan period with:

  1. The American Muslim Consumer segment AND
  2. With their existing consumer base

By doing this, they would have probably forecasted this current reaction and perhaps, either, had a better segment penetration strategy and/or had a back plan to tackle the backlash that’s come about. In addition they would have been able to evaluate the financial risk which they now potentially face.

At the time of writing this post, Whole Foods, had issued an official statement to press and on their Twitter Feed :
“We’re extremely excited about offering halal products for our shoppers and we stand behind them AND our promotion of them…”

But this occurrence is a learning for mainstream brands moving into the global Muslim consumer, that it’s CRITICAL  to undertake “Brand” risks evaluation as part of their business growth strategy. Without such evaluations, one could end up shooting the brand in the foot.