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  • Three top tips for talking to Muslim consumers in 2012

    Here is our monthly column published in January’s edition of Marketing Magazine in Malaysia.

    By Shelina Janmohamed, Senior Strategist (Ogilvy Noor) and Shazia Khan, Associate Planning Director (Ogilvy & Mather Kuala Lumpur)

    The year is in full swing, and you are busy implementing your marketing plans to draw in new audiences and ensure your products and brands are heard in the marketplace. To ensure your success in 2012, here are three insider tips on the segments that are going to grow this year, and what ‘hot buttons’ to press, to initiate relationships with your Muslim consumer.

    1. Tête-à-tête

    Talk to your Muslim consumers, by addressing the values that are important to them. Tagging on the ‘Islamic’ label is not enough. Estimated at US$2.1 trillion per annum, with a global audience of 1.8 billion, the Muslim consumer opportunity is one that you can’t afford to ignore. What is crucial is that these consumers tell us that their faith influences their consumption. Just as significant is the fact that it is the values that they hold dear, and want embedded in products and brands. If something is badged ‘Islamic’ or ‘halal’, the ‘Futurist’ Muslim consumers – the particularly influential segment within the group – will test the validity of this statement, and will embrace those whose values withstand the scrutiny, and will be scathing to those whose promises are found wanting.

    Take heed from a company in South Africa that labeled pork as ‘halal’. Muslims will look for halal certification to verify whether meat has been prepared according to the Islamic processes. However, pork is totally forbidden to Muslims. When Muslim consumers found out they were outraged and Muslim companies took out a court order to prevent the company from using the halal logo. The company claims it has been the victim of a smear campaign, but admits that even if this is the case it will take them years to rebuild their reputation.

    2. Cross-Overs

    Mainstream and Muslim-friendly products and brands have a high degree of crossover. Make the most of this. It’s worth repeating the point that Muslim consumers are looking for brands that uphold the values that are important to them. These include values such as purity, cleanliness, wholesomeness, ethics, honesty and transparency. Of course many consumers, not just Muslims, are looking for these qualities in their purchases. If your brand and your product embody such values, then the clear opportunity is to ensure that you communicate to Muslim consumers as well as a wider audience.

    Last year in the UK, the country’s first halal beauty shop opened in the city of Birmingham. The founder of the shop was inspired to open it because she herself is a vegetarian and interested in ethical issues. She said: “I wanted to use beauty products and cosmetics but was not prepared to compromise anymore by using products that I knew to be unethical. Halal certification ensures the ingredients used in the products are free from all animal ingredients and testing.”

    Whilst the products clearly appeal to Muslim consumers, they are more widely suitable for consumers who are vegetarian, interested in ingredient purity as well as those who want to ensure their purchases are ethical.

    3. Community Oriented

    Muslim consumers believe in community, collective and corporate responsibility, so make sure you play your part, and play your part with sincerity. Dialogue with a Muslim consumer is dialogue with the whole community. Muslim consumers see it as their responsibility to share the good news about companies that support them, and vice versa. They also have expectations that brands will invest in the community and engage in the service of the community. Last year, in Egypt, Persil detergent and Pril dishwashing liquid were involved in volunteer drives in the areas that had been affected by the uprisings. They were promoting the motive “This is our place” and supporting young people in the clean up effort.

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