Q&A with Author Paul Temporal: Reaching the Islamic Market

It’s a topic that Ogilvy Noor touched on not too long ago— how to reach Muslim consumers. We’ve revisited that topic with Paul Temporal, associate fellow at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University and author of the new book Islamic Branding and Marketing: Creating a Global Islamic Business.

The Islamic market is a growing one. But it’s a market with a unique set of tastes that largely go unmet by mass market and Western brands. After the jump, we have a Q&A about some of the current consumer trends and how marketers can use them to reach their target in the Muslim community.

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PRNewser: What are some of the top trends right now among Muslim consumers? What are some of the messages and images that work for this market?

Paul Temporal: The first trend is growth in numbers. By 2030, the global Muslim population is expected to increase at a rate of 35 percent, rising to 2.2 billion, or 26.4 percent of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion. Also by 2030, 79 countries are expected to have a million or more Muslim inhabitants, as opposed to the current number of 72. A majority of the world’s Muslims (over 60 percent) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20 percent will live in the Middle East and North Africa. Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but will constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.

This growth throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe in Islamic majority and minority countries has led to escalating business activity, with Islamic trade currently assessed in trillions of dollars, providing many opportunities for Western brands willing to work with Halal accreditation agencies, and for Islamic companies.

However, any company, Islamic or non-Islamic, that wishes to capitalise on branding and business opportunities should understand that the Muslim market as a whole is not a homogenous one, and across Muslim countries there are many differences, as well as similarities, in terms of consumer behaviour.

The implication of this lack of uniformity is that, although a global brand strategy may be created with a universal value proposition, brand managers and marketers will be forced to adopt multiple marketing strategies in order to build international brands in a variety of countries that appeal to Muslims.

Market research is thus essential to develop messages and images that are culturally sensitive to Muslims and to their national cultures.

How can you effectively incorporate Islam into a campaign without offending Muslim audiences?

The global Muslim market can be considered to be a lifestyle market as Islamic values and practices heavily influence the daily lives of all Muslims.  Islamic branding and marketing is not about selling a religion, but all marketing initiatives have to appeal to Islamic values. The sources of Islamic values reveal that they are mostly of universal emotional appeal, and indeed can be used to attract both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers.

Imagery must be carefully researched by Western brands to make sure it is not offensive in any way and in many categories the use of Halal accreditation endorsements is essential. Alternatively, Islamic companies can stick to their values and still produce campaigns with imagery that Western consumers are used to.

So many Muslim consumers are young. How do they differ from their parents?

By 2050, it is estimated that Muslims will account for 60 percent of the world’s population under the age of 18. The youth market represents a massive future prospect for categories such as education and digital products and Internet-based services, and yet although young people are exposed to information from all over the world with the expansion of the Internet, research suggests they tend to still keep their Islamic values.  Even in Muslim minority countries such as the UK, young Muslims feel very ‘British’ but are proud of, and adhere to, their Islamic values.  Brands targeting Muslim youth should bear this in mind.