The increasing demand for lifestyle products and services by the global Muslim community is not surprising given the purchasing power (of the community) and its young age. Is this an opportunity for entreprenuers as well as global brands?. Whilst there are some well known brands ‘communicating’ and customising the brands’ message and physical attributes for the Muslim consumer segment, by an large, such brand “avtaar’s” are not yet in mainstream marketing (at least not in the high-ticket items).
So in this final post (of looking at how CSR based planning can help a business) can Islamic ethics and governance aid a brand to develop loyalty and involvement?
The opportunity for a brand to use Islamic ethics and governance in brand marketing to project a socially beneficial identity is there. I’m talking about a business operation which conducts itself on the platform of Islamic ethics and as a result its image through its brand, in any activity, internally and externally, is always with the intention of benefitting the society, and both involved parties.
(Note: The organisation does not need to be a Muslim one. Personally speaking,Islamic ethics are ethical values, that I belive, are common in terms of needs of commercial interaction between two parties i.e. in any commercial transaction each party is always looking to benefit. Thus if transparency, committment and a ‘best-intent’ is already manifested within the offer, automatically, the transaction will benefit both concerned.)
For e.g: a Islamic banking institution can project the ethics to establish itself head and shoulders above its competitors in its category as a corporate brand. ( Based on the ethical approach the financial instiutitions’ process vs another’s can be totally different. This, in effect, can become the competitive advantage for that financial instituition and infact be the key reason why consumers would want to associate with that corporate brand.
Strategically, the financial instituition, (for its retail banking arm, or its customer service, or even a basic CSR program), can also do a “blue ocean” and approach the entire financial services business from the perspective of ‘being beneficial to the society” by virtue of enabling the citizen to be debt-free and/ or generate the habit of savings or prudent spending.
The question is “why not”?
It has its risks.
- Risks of not having immediate customer conversion,
- Not having immediate sales and therefore profit
Risks that are the way we know risks today.
Similarly in the consumables category, a brand can be profitable (and thats not a sin) from utilising a transparent, honest and ethical approach in building “trust” with its target group.
In fact such a brand would generate a loyal base of customers which would be evergrowing and the WOM (word of mouth through the customers own social media network) would lead to the brand expanding geographically.
But the issue is, “is this possible?”
This is a totally different perspective in marketing thinking (vis a vis what has been historically done).
It’s the beginings of CHANGE.
One has to be convinced and brand owners and managers have to beleive in the change and in its social benefit, in order, for change to manifest. In time, manifest it will as awareness, understanding and knowledge seep into the consumers. Into society as a whole.
This is when the brand that initiated the change, that provided the knowledge, that came across (and established itself) as having no “hidden agendas” would rule the hearts and heads of its community groups.