Marketers Reaching Out to Muslims
A report by Louise Story in The New York Times says grocers and other marketers are seeking to find ways to reach American Muslims through culturally based advertising.
While hard numbers are not known, some organizations say there are up to 10 million Muslims living in the U.S. These consumers are estimated to spend $170 billion at retail.
A study of Muslim consumers by the advertising agency JWT found that many felt cut off from mainstream advertising. Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of JWT, told The Times that interview subjects all sought assurances that the call was not coming from the U.S. government before responding.
“I think Muslims have had to draw into themselves. It puts an increased burden on a marketer post-9/11 to say, ‘Look, we understand,'” said Ms. Salzman. The agency includes Johnson & Johnson and Unilever among its clients.
Almas Abbasi, a radiologist in Long Island was among those interviewed by JWT. She said Muslims would welcome the attention of advertisers.
“If Ramadan starts, and you see an ad in the newspaper saying, ‘Happy Ramadan, here’s a special in our store,’ everyone will run to that store,” she told The Times.
Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, agreed. “People would flock to it. They would say, ‘I can’t believe I’m being validated by Macy’s. I can’t believe I’m being validated by Whole Foods.'”
Companies in areas with large populations, such as Detroit, have been out front in catering to Muslim consumers. McDonald’s, for example, sells halal chicken. Walgreens, according to The Times, has Arabic signs in store aisles. IKEA, which recently opened in Canton, Mich., has plans to sell decorations for Ramadan and is adding halal meat to its restaurant’s menu.
Besides Detroit, there are a number of other areas around the country with large Muslim populations including New York and Long Island, northern Virginia, Houston, Orange County, Calif. and Georgia.
Discussion Questions: Is it time for marketers to develop messages targeted to American Muslims? Where, if it at all, do you see potential pitfalls following this path? If you see the potential for problems, what will it take to avoid them?