Expert opinions on marketing to Muslims

Experts offer their branding and communication advice on how to reach the Muslim audience.

  • To read the cover story relating to this, Young, connected and Muslim click here
  • To read HSBC Amanah’s head of global marketing Mohammed Ismaeel’s viewpoint click here
  • To explore the case study of Chicken Cottage, a leading halal brand click here

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.

Mohammed Ismaeel, head of global marketing, HSBC Amanah:

“There is this term that our Shariah scholar, Sheikh Nizam Yaquby coined – ‘COBM’ – which means ‘cost of being a Muslim’. Muslims are telling us that they should not be penalised for being a Muslim. More importantly, they should have a choice on who they can bank with; and they want the same pricing, quality of service and treatment that they could get from conventional banks.”

Mohamed El-Fatatry, founder and CEO, Muxlim:

“We tell marketers not to use overtly religious messages to market their products. You don’t need to do that. Many mainstream brands don’t want to associate themselves with religion or a religious celebration.”

Nazia Hussain, director of cultural strategy, Ogilvy & Mather Global:

“There is no such thing as a Muslim brand because brands can’t have a religion but they can align themselves with the values of that religion. Don’t divide people along simplistic lines

of religious devoutness. Muslims today are deeply proud of their faith and see these distinctions of devoutness as superficial. Start with their values – core Islamic values – first. And then build brands around them to appeal to them. Not the other way around.”

Khalid Sharif, founder of The Muslim Paper and Ummah Foods:

“Rather than just talking at the Muslim community, businesses need to consider investing in the Muslim community.”

Dr Paul Temporal, associate fellow at Said Business School, and project director on Islamic branding and marketing:

“One of the opportunities for building Islamic brands in Britain is to cater for these niche target audiences. If [Muslim brands] do not do that, then the big brands like the Tescos of this world will do so.”

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