Opinion: Islam-centric branding and marketing essential for global businesses

Islam-centric branding and marketing essential for global businesses, says University of Greenwich expert
Businesses are failing to make the most of one of the world’s fastest-growing markets, according to an international expert in Islamic marketing, Jon Wilson from the University of Greenwich.  Islam-centric branding and marketing are essential for global companies, he argues, pointing out that Muslims make up a quarter of the world’s consumers.

Jon Wilson will chair Total Marketing, a conference of marketing professionals in Dubai next week, followed by a workshop on Islamic Marketing and Muslim Consumer Behaviour. He is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Advertising & Marketing Communications Management in the university Business School; the new editor of the international Journal of Islamic Marketing; and co-author of award-winning research on shaping Halal into a brand. Jon has recently completed a tour of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, speaking at an international conference, universities and businesses. He also hails Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and London as being hubs offering benchmarks and the potential for further development.

“Muslims are an often neglected and misunderstood group of consumers,” Jon says. “Businesses have not yet thought through in sufficient depth their marketing, branding and PR for this section of the market.” He argues that businesses need to develop a greater understanding of different Muslim markets, providing a broader range of products that move beyond the traditional focus on “meat and money” such as Halal foods and shariah finance.

Jon says that non-Muslim consumers could also feel a strong affinity with Islamic-focussed products, if marketed properly. He believes this can open up new areas for product development and help to bring insight into other areas of marketing where there is a high degree of emotional connection between consumers and brands beyond conventional interpretations of faith and religion, for example areas such as sports and music.

“Islamic consumerism will throw up new issues and paradoxes,” says Jon.  “Can a super-expensive designer hijab with Swarovski crystals be consistent with the idea of ‘modest fashion’? Or, can there be such a thing as a ‘luxury’ Hajj pilgrimage?”

He has particular interests in the rapid growth of the vibrant Islamic youth market; over a half of all Muslims are under 24. “Increasingly, their consumption, religious views and opinions are decided through empowered consensus, using social media and the internet. This approach is drawing Muslim behaviour towards conspicuous consumption, rebellion and leaderless collective individualism.”

He predicts that products targeted at Islamic consumers will come to appeal to wider markets across increasingly blurred ethnic divides, in the same way that food, fashion, music and other commodities were once targeted at Afro-American and Caribbean communities and have now been adopted by the mainstream.

For more information:

Total Marketing conference: www.iirme.com/totalmarketing<http://www.iirme.com/totalmarketing>

Workshop on Islamic Marketing and Muslim Consumer Behaviour: www.iirme.com/totalmarketing/agenda/post-summit-workshops<http://www.iirme.com/totalmarketing/agenda/post-summit-workshops>

Jon Wilson: www.gre.ac.uk/schools/business/about-us/departments/mktg/staff/Jonathan_W<http://www.gre.ac.uk/schools/business/about-us/departments/mktg/staff/Jonathan_W>

Journal of Islamic Marketing: www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/editorial_team.htm?id=jima

DinarStandard, New York column: http://experts.dinarstandard.com/author/jonathan-wilson/