What are the top 5 ways to market to Muslims in this digital age and time? Marketing to Muslims has been a hot topic ever since the global Halal industry started gaining attention. I, being a marketer for the better part of my life, am interested in this topic. I talk to people, Muslims and not-yet-Muslims alike, about this issue to get a better understanding of how Halal businesses could market their products and services to around 2 billion Muslims all over the world.
Being a marketer targetting Muslim consumers, you may want to have a greater understanding of how to market to Muslims.
It was two weeks into Ramadan and I’d had the pleasure of being asked countless times the somewhat poetic question: “Not even water?” Ahh, it brings joy to my soul (for those still a little confused – no, not even water).
So far in the most important month for millions of Muslims living in Muslim-minority countries, my expectations of poor brand engagement have been confirmed. I’ve seen Ramadan initiatives across sectors from food to fashion fall short of potential, missing out on the huge opportunity during this massive moment seemingly countless choices and brands.
It’s important to remember that Ramadan, although characterized as a month of self-discipline and fasting, is also a month full of festivity. Shopping centers report footfall increases of up to 47% and supermarkets to see this month driving multimillion-dollar incremental value. And while brands are all too keen to capitalize on this opportunity and tap into the 100s of billions of dollars of the market, their efforts more often than not look like a poor scramble or afterthought.
The reality is that brands are ignorant of their Muslim customers and their actual needs and demands. This ignorance results in half-hearted efforts that deliver a lukewarm impact, yet marketing or product teams feel pleased with themselves for executing a diverse campaign or initiative.
So, perhaps, the most important question you may want to ask yourself as a marketer is whether your brand is ready to serve Muslim consumers?
There is so much that can be done to engage with the ever-evolving Muslim population and create a lasting relationship. So, with that in mind, here are my five top considerations for brands to heed before their next efforts at Ramadan or beyond.
1 Move beyond the ‘immigrant’ stereotype
Don’t get me wrong. Would you believe me if I told you half of the Muslim population is under 30, who are predominantly second-and third-generation natives of the land you live in? Yet the majority of Ramadan initiatives seem like they’re talking to my aunty who came from Bangladesh five weeks ago (she didn’t, but still…you get my point).
The majority of a brand’s Muslim audience is most likely young with bicultural identities that are both very strong British or American or Canadian or Japanese and very strongly Muslim. Deep green color palettes resembling the Pakistan flag should be a thing of the past, and countless lanterns or Arab-inspired illustrations are losing distinctiveness. To connect culturally during Ramadan and beyond, brands need to be clued up on the new cultural context of these young Muslims and not just fall back on stereotypes.
2 Don’t be scared to represent
To connect with Muslims during this period, be proud of them, and represent them in all Ramadan touchpoints. Mainstream representation of Muslims is narrow and the regular Muslim is very rarely the face of public perception. This makes authentic representation much more important because they’re hungry for engagement that understands them. So, when it comes to casting, for the love of Allah, please include some representative models.
Getty Images did this when it teamed up with photographer Nina Manandhar on a photo series called The New Mods, capturing the next generation of Muslim women. And, this year, for our first M: LIFE project (a strategic division of ODD specializing in Muslim audiences), we helped F&F launch a social “Modest series”, showcasing a modest take on F&F’s existing fashion lines. In less than a week, it became one of its top five most-engaged posts of the year and started a massive conversation among Muslim and non-Muslim women alike, with people applauding F&F for authentically engaging and taking steps to diversify its communications.
Muslims are ready and waiting to be spoken to, and with the right help and crafted narrative it’s a no-brainer and a guaranteed win.
3 Useful content that adds value
Brands don’t need to reinvent their wheel. Typically, Muslims are buying the same things as everyone else (providing it’s halal), but their customer journey can be drastically different given their religious requirements. Brands should look to alleviate those tension points not only to benefit from the commercial value but to also become a trusted source for inspiration and solutions. This is where they can up their content game on social or in-store.
But one thing that’s important to remember is that Muslims are not a homogenous group. Previously, brands have created content with no appreciation of the cultural diversity of Muslims across the globe, resulting in these efforts being labeled uninformed and ignorant. Any brand can become a real asset, from food to fashion to finance, but understanding its role and how and what to communicate is crucial.
4 Take your Muslim strategy beyond Ramadan
Earlier this year, we launched our study Modest Fashion: The Industry’s Best Kept Secret, and from our research, we found a consistent theme of frustration that the Muslim conversation is isolated to Ramadan:
“We’re not just Muslims at Ramadan.” Female, 19, Manchester
The bare minimum a brand should be doing is a Ramadan campaign, but Muslims want and expect more, since their lifestyle doesn’t exist for just one month a year. There’s so much a brand can do to engage and build rapport with Muslims, from content and inspiration to product development, and the current landscape presents a golden opportunity for brands to get ahead of the curve with their efforts.
5 Don’t go it alone
This is less of a consideration and more of a prerequisite. Brands need to understand that to communicate to an audience they’ve never effectively spoken to before, they need to look beyond their own four walls. To go it alone would be akin to asking a builder for medical advice. They need real insights and real consulting to understand the role of their brand in the Ramadan conversation and beyond, and how to communicate in a way the brand has a right to do. It’s not hard to get it right, but it’s very easy to get it wrong.