Ogilvy Noor in the Press

  • Dhaka Tribune: Marketing to Muslims

    4, June, 2014


    The Dhaka Tribune discusses the growing opportunity in marketing to Muslims, and Ogilvy Noor’s pioneering work in understanding the new Muslim consumer.

    The original article can be found here.

    Marketing to Muslims
    Saifur Rahman

    Islamic values can champion the cause of corporate social responsibility in both the Muslim and Western worlds. Values such as transparency, discipline, humility, and purity are universal in their appeal

    Modern Muslim consumers are considered by many to being the single biggest market in the world that has been overlooked by many brands in the past. The population currently stands at 1.8 billion and by 2050 the Muslim population is expected to grow to 2.6 billion, representing nearly 30% of the global projected population.

    Most marketers have missed the mark so far by addressing only the emotional drivers in order to build brand personality and image for the global consumers. As for Muslim consumers, the story is a bit different. One just cannot play around with the emotional drivers only, understanding the core value system on which those emotional drivers are based on is also equally important in order to create a ripple through the minds of Muslim consumers. If a company understands that an Islamic brand is primarily based on the ethics and values of Islam, they will have won half the battle.

    The purchasing power of this group is immense; growing at a rate of almost US$ 1.4bn daily (US$ 500 billion annually) which is why most of the global brands are fighting over letting this genie out from the bottle and unfold the treasure that was hidden all this while. There are 780 million Muslims under the age of 25, which is 43% of the total Muslim population and 11% of the entire global population. They are young, confident, and proud of their identity with freedom and the ability to purchase whatever they desire.

    Fortune 500 companies such as Unilever, Nestle, Citi NA, McDonalds, Tesco, and Coke are all taking this market seriously and have made significant investment in order to provide Halal (acceptable to Muslims, in accordance with good practice) products in specific Muslim countries. The world’s leading advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather has understood the potential of this market and has opened their Islamic branding wing Ogilvy Noor, which publishes the Noor Global Brand Index, to identify and rank Muslim-friendly brands. They also publish “Brand, Islam and the New Muslim Consumer” reports annually to understand the specific needs of this segment.

    On the flipside, there is also a huge risk of brands isolating Muslim consumers. One can explain this with an excerpt from Apple’s poster “You can quote them, disagree with them…But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.” In 1998, Nike had to recall 38,000 pairs of Nike Air shoes when the logo was declared by the Council of American Islamic Relations to be offensive to Muslims as it resembled the word “Allah” in Arabic. After Denmark published the distorted photo of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), their annual export volume of US$2.6bn to Muslim countries literally disappeared. Even global tech giant Google was given a run for their money when their online video portal YouTube was banned in many Muslim countries for hosting the controversial video “Fitna” which disgraced Islam and the Prophet.

    To avoid such instances, brand owners can develop a strong brand based on the ethics and values important to the Muslim consumer group. The Ogilvy Noor report reveals how a successful Islamic brand can be created by circling around the Muslim consumers and complying with the Islamic values by focusing on the following eight factors:

    1 A brand’s role in the community: Including all aspects of a company’s corporate citizenship

    2 Product: Including both the range of offering, ingredients, and manufacturing process

    3 The brand story and its PR strategy: Focusing on the tactics brands can employ when talking about themselves, to better appeal to the new Muslim consumers

    4 Corporate business practice: Every aspect of how the business is run internally

    5 Visual identity: The specific needs of the Muslim consumer when it comes to visual information and appeal

    6 Brand communication: How and what a brand is communicating to its audience

    7 External endorsement: Who to partner with and who to avoid

    8 Customer service and delivery: Why getting this is so important and how to do so

    Muslim consumers must be targeted through a core product brand that stands up across a variety of markets. For this, it is important to develop a comprehensive range of products that are universally accepted by all Muslims. Moreover, the Halal market is not confined to Muslims only. It has also attracted non-Muslim consumers due to its perceived quality and health benefits. Non-Muslims are also inclining towards the Islamic financial system because of its core values – equitable sharing of risk, and discouragement of excess leverage.

    In conclusion, Islamic values can champion the cause of corporate social responsibility in both the Muslim and Western worlds. Values such as transparency, discipline, humility, and purity are universal in their appeal. Islamic branded products offer a better future for all, as they are based on the values of goodness and justice. Value propositions should be designed in a way that will appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike to move the addressable market from 1.8 billion Muslims to the full global population of 7 billion.