Arun Sudhaman 28 May 2009 // 2:40PM GMT
[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Coca-Cola Ramadan ad"][/caption] The numbers, of course, are bewildering. But there is good reason to think that the one-billion strong Islamic community is becoming a considerably more important audience for brands big and small. This feature I wrote for Media Asia examines the topic in some detail. . Both JWT and Ogilvy have started researching the area - and if the ad agencies are putting money into it, there must be a revenue opportunity. What struck me most about marketing to Muslims was, quite simply, that so many MNC brands remain rather fearful. As a consequence, they have simply ignored the opportunity to engage with Muslims as a sophisticated, multi-segmented consumer group. There are some notable exceptions - LG and Coca-Cola spring to mind - but boycotts of American brands in Malaysia have not exactly encouraged brands to adopt an overtly religions tone. That may be for the best. Rather than worry too much about tone and messaging, the key consideration when it comes to the Islamic community appears to lie more in the product development process. Shariah and Halal compliance is just one aspect; actually creating products that appeal to Muslims - like LG's Mecca Phone - offers considerable opportunity. As the feature points out, the values that matter to most Muslims are those that are beloved of CSR chiefs everywhere. So perhaps targeting the Muslim consumer is a rather more inclusive approach than it would first appear. More of the research that underpins this feature can be found here. Meanwhile, I also wonder how big a factor is the relative paucity of Muslims within the marketing and PR world as a whole. More bluntly, are there people who can persuasively make the case for the Muslim consumer within MNC brands and their agencies?