MARKETING TO MUSLIMS
Over the past year, we've become acutely aware that most brands and marketers are turning a blind eye to the multibillion- dollar American Muslim market. Maybe they don't recognize that there is an opportunity. Maybe they harbor some of the anti- Muslim fears and prejudices that are so apparent in American media and public life. Maybe they are scared of offending American Muslims, or they fear that by embracing Muslim consumers, they will alienate non-Muslims. Whatever the reason, they are failing to connect with consumers whose combined disposable income is well in excess of $170 billion a year in the U.S. alone.
Marketers are consummate opportunists, constantly looking for new angles, new ways to sell products and new target markets to address. The best among them have an intuition for identifying significant shifts in societies. The marketing industry was the first to recognize "teenage" as a life stage, in the 1950s, and has helped popularize notions of social segments ever since, from yuppies, empty nesters and boomers to Gen Xers, metrosexuals and singletons, not to mention dinks (dual income, no kids) and skis (spending the kids' inheritance). More often than not, the labels they come up with seem familiar even before they are explained. They are intuitively right, sometimes to the point of being blindingly obvious with hindsight.
So it's all the more mysterious that global marketers have overlooked a social segment of truly global proportions. Around the world, well over 1 billion people identify as Muslim. Islam shapes their sense of identity, their beliefs and values, and their behavior. From a marketing perspective, it's unthinkable that Islam would not influence them as consumers, too. Yet there is a gaping void in the global marketing industry's knowledge of Muslims. Where do global marketers turn for guidance about Muslim consumers? At the moment, there is no single resource.