Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can we generalize an average Muslim consumer?

Generalization is good and bad. On the one hand, it allows an easier response to identifiable segments of the population. On the other hand, the generalization may end up being too general, potentially alienating your target audience.

I haven't really explored the so-called Muslim market segment in this blog before, other than a post in Islamic banking. But I personally wonder if you can lump someone from remotest Saudi Arabia, someone from Indonesia, and someone from Detroit into the same market segment. But perhaps I'm wrong. Marsha Weinstein:

“Muslim consumerism” is thus hardly an oxymoron; why single it out? The consumer behavior of Muslims worldwide is like Western consumer behavior -- especially online -- but exceptional in its extensive use of the Internet for Islamic goods.

Today’s Muslims are young, tech-savvy dotcom aspirants: 50 percent of America’s 1.5 million Muslims are under age 39, and 75 percent of the Middle East’s are under 35.

Young Muslims animatedly blog about iPhone apps that wake them in time for early morning fajr prayers and point them toward Mecca, no matter where in the world they are.

Weinstein also discussed eSoouk, an online site which describes itself as follows:

Alhumdulilah! All praise is due to Allah (SWT) who has allowed this project to blossom and become a reality in the blessed month of Dhil-Hajj 2008!

We thought you might like to know a bit more of what we’re all about!

Originally founded in April 2006, started as a vision and an intention for the Muslim community, to unite and connect Muslim people, businesses, buyers and sellers all under one roof and to improve the economic conditions of the Muslim community at large by establishing the Islamic trading principles of Honesty, Integrity, Mutual understanding and Trust.

This is our intention, and Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala will only reward people for what they intended, and we pray Allah (SWT) accepts from us the good from this website and forgives us for any bad from this website. We are not perfect nor do we claim to be, we are human beings just like you, so we ask if you see anything on this site un-Islamic or you feel you have not been treated fairly we ask you to contact us so we can Inshaa'Allah resolve the issue together for the sake of Allah (SWT).

(I discussed some of the Muslim business ethical principles in my prior post.)

Now perhaps people in Taliban-dominated areas aren't rushing out to buy from these sites, or from Western companies such as Nestle who have adapted their processes so that halal foods can be provided.

But maybe there is a commonality of sorts between the shoppers in some portions of the Muslim world. Despite their different national backgrounds, there are some commonalities between them that support a unified marketing approach.

But I'm waiting to see what happens when the "Muslim market" tries to influence school textbook publishing. California and Texas won't be able to tolerate the competition.

P.S. Also see the comments to this CNN post. Sample:

Shama Ahmed
August 11th, 2010 10:19 am ET

With Muslims having more opportunity of a better education their understanding of the Islam religion is also growing. Muslims are an integral part of the financial system as the Muslim consumer is a big market. Having products that adhere to Islamic values are very important as these will be more attractive to the Muslim consumer. This is quite noticeable with the growth of Islamic Banks and also many none Islamic Banks have products to suit the Muslim customer. There is also the ever growing businesses of restaurants, clothe shops, book store, which are catering to Muslim needs such as halal food, modest fashionable clothes, literature and art.
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