Viewpoint: Rebranding to differentiate a brand – Young, connected and Muslim

Muslim consumers are a growing, influential and extremely loyal group, making them a desirable market for mainstream brands. But reaching them requires more than launching Sharia-compliant products. Making inroads to this sector takes deep understanding of the values of this community and building the brand from there. Below is an expert viewpoint on marketing to Muslims.

  • To read the cover story relating to this, Young, connected and Muslim click here
  • For more expert opinions on marketing to Muslims from leading Muslim business people click here
  • To explore Chicken Cottage, a halal brand’s case study case study
  • For Muslim consumer facts click here
Mohammed Ismaeel
Mohammed Ismaeel

The Muslim population is a younger, more progressive segment of the UK population. Clearly our goal as a bank is to help this segment achieve its aspirations. Mohammed Ismaeel, head of global marketing, HSBC Amanah explains furthur. Amanah is the vehicle used by HSBC to make the bank relevant to young Muslims. It is the ultimate expression of what we mean by the brand philosophy of “the world’s local bank”.

It’s taking everything that is positive about HSBC and making it relevant at a local level for a Muslim consumer. When you look at the brand attributes of HSBC, we think it’s a brand that values different cultures and backgrounds.

In Malaysia, for example, a large portion of our customers are Chinese. So those particular consumers are attracted less to the products for their Sharia law aspects but more so for the financial structure of the products.

Young at heart: HSBC Amanah has built its financial offering around feedback from younger customers

 To explain, our products are structured differently to conventional ones because of the co-operative nature of Islamic banking. While the commercial bank offers interest, we offer profit sharing. We’re governed by what is acceptable by Sharia law.

As our business is dictated by Sharia law, so is our marketing, advertising and communications. From a dress perspective, for example, a more conservative route is taken. This can also be seen in our advertising and communications. We may find that advertising for HSBC’s Premier product is set on a beach or a lounge bar. But these are obviously not reflective of Amanah’s target audience, so we will adjust our communications to reflect our Muslim consumers.   

But you can’t treat Muslims as one group. The banking industry as a whole has been driving Sharia aggressively for the past few years. However, our customers were coming back to us in research saying: “We’re not one big homogenous group called Muslims”. They said: “We have aspirations and ambitions like anyone else.”

So we stepped back and looked at the younger generation, who clearly told us they won’t be taken for a ride just because they are Muslims. They want something from their financial products that makes sense to them.

That means we will never offer a Sharia product unless it’s like-for-like with a conventional banking product. When people are banking with Amanah, they are getting HSBC. It’s just that they are getting HSBC in the manner that is relevant to their Islamic needs.

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