The One Reason Every Brand is Failing to Capitalize on the Muslim Consumer Market Effectively

Muslim Consumer Market

According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2018/19 in 2017, the global halal economy reached $2.1 trillion and is expected to reach $3 trillion in 2023.

With the internet becoming more accessible in Muslim homes, Muslim consumers’ shopping is shifting drastically from traditional in-store shopping to online shopping. Moreover, online shopping is more common among online users, as it is suitable for Muslim consumers who live a busy lifestyle.

Take Malaysia for instance:

In 2018, revenue in the e-commerce market amounted to US$ 1,380 million, and is expected to show an annual growth rate of 17.6%, resulting in a market volume of US$ 2,635m by 2022.

Societe Generale

It is therefore important to understand the purchase intention of Muslim consumers, and what influences their online shopping.

Muslim Consumer Purchase Intention

Amity Journal of Marketing (AJIM) conducted research on Muslim Consumers’ Online Purchase Intention towards Islamic Fashion Products: A Clothing Market Case.

It is no surprise that this research paper focused on the clothing market. In one of our previous articles, we mentioned that Muslim consumer spending on clothing is expected to reach $368 billion by 2021, which would be a 51% increase from 2015.

Islam encourages specific rules for every part of one’s daily life issues such as eating, dressing, and others. Thus, the influencing factors of Muslim consumers’ intention to shop online for Islamic fashion products should be measured.


So what is purchase intention exactly? According to AJIM,

Purchase intention ensues when a consumer buys a specific product resulting from his or her need for that particular product, which is the result of one’s perception and attitude towards that product.

Internal Influences

It is important to understand that this perception and attitude is heavily conditioned by social norms, culture, lifestyle, but most definitely in the case of the Muslim consumer their belief and religious laws.

As a business owner or a marketer of a business that targets Muslims, you would need to understand these perceptions and attitudes in order to create accurate advertising strategies and targeting.

External Influences

External factors also contribute to purchase intention. Some external factors are for example color, layout, social perspectives, and user experience as a whole.

A history/experience of shopping online creates a feeling of convenience and familiarizes the user with the advantages of buying online. This in turn influences the purchase intention.

Muslim Online Purchase Intention

In order to understand the influencing factors of online shopping intention of Muslim consumers, we must look at  internal influences plus the external influences and online shopping experiences.

Muslim Online Purchase Intent
Source: AJIM

Where Does Online Advertising Come into Play?

The answer to this question is quite straightforward. In the model above we see three variables that influence the Muslim consumer’s online purchase intention. It is only one of the three variables – internal influences- that cannot be influenced by online advertising, at least not short-term. 

The other two variables give business owners and marketers a tremendous opportunity to draw the Muslim consumer into buying their products or services. However, internal influences carry the emotional part that causes Muslim consumers to connect or disconnect with a brand.

In fact, this is where many big brands have failed to win over Muslim consumers.

So much has been talked about big brands repelling Muslim consumers by not understanding their values and ending up offending them through their campaigns. So they fail on the internal influence part as the campaigns they run may not be in sync with some of the Islamic values. The recent Nike ad, “You Can’t Stop Us”, that shows a Muslim skateboarder in a niqaab (face veil) transforming into a short-haired LGBTQ person is yet another example. What got to Muslims, even more, are the words “ and if we don’t fit the sport, we’ll change the sport”, it does not take a genius to read between the lines there. If you are reading this and thinking what’s the big deal, just reverse the role and have an LGBTQ person transform into a niqabi; now sit back and imagine the uproar.

However, these brands fail when it comes to external influences and shopping experience too. Their campaigns, feel like temporary capitalization of a seasonal opportunity like Ramadan for example. A brand that has a look-and-feel that one is used to all of a sudden looks like the inside of a mosque. This makes the Muslim consumer feel like they are being taken for a ride and that the brand does not really care about the Muslim consumer. Tesco is one of those brands we have featured in a previous blog that seems to do this quite often.

This phenomenon is not typical to Muslims alone but typical to all consumers. Wharton University of Pennsylvania published an article that showed loyal customers abandoning brands they have been buying from since childhood because they just changed too much.

In the 2019 article Nostalgia Is Not Enough: Why Consumers Abandon Legacy Brands Santiago Gallino, a Wharton professor of operations, explains that Sears ended a nine-decade presence in Lincoln, Nebraska, but also closed two stores in Colorado. The brand had lost touch with the consumer because it had changed too much.

It is more like these brands are breaking up with the customers. I think that at some point the customer decides to pack up and leave.

Santiago Gallino

So where does advertising come into play? The answer, especially for the Muslim consumer, is all three variables: internal influences, external influences, and online shopping experience.

Most marketers put effort into external factors. For example, one of the most popular ways of determining and following up on purchase intention in the eCommerce world is retargeting users who abandoned their online shopping cart. Those who do not use eCommerce will target users to specific pages which show that the user is looking to purchase the solutions they offer.

In order to properly advertise to the Muslim consumer, there is definitely a need to be strong on all three aspects of the purchase intention.

Can Mainstream Online Advertising Do The Job?

In the same article, we’ve just mentioned, Americus Reed, Wharton marketing professor, and identity theorist explains:

The legacy brands no longer have a stranglehold because physical experiences can be replaced by digital experiences. Legacy brands don’t have the only ability to create that moment of aha, of delighted joy.

Today every marketer out there knows that online advertising IS advertising and without creating the right digital experience there is very little hope of your brand reaching its full potential and in many cases even surviving long-term.

We have discussed the need for brands targeting Muslims to embrace the digital revolution in a previous article. Yet, we keep coming back to the fact that a cautious approach needs to be taken when advertising to Muslims online.

It can be quite difficult if not outright impossible to find the tools to do this properly because of the reasons we have already talked about in this article to properly target Muslims online. It takes a dedicated team of people who understand both the internal and external influences that make up the purchase intention of the various types of Muslims who are distinct in nature based on their culture, upbringing, level of religiosity, and the country they originate from.

Even if you get your messaging and branding right, how and where will you target those Muslims? You can hit and hope with your ads all over the internet or you can strike underground individual deals with big data collectors like Google and Facebook – amongst many – to gather information about their Muslim users. That’s provided you have deep pockets and a team of lawyers to get you out of hot water when it all comes out into the open.

The Solution to The Problem of Advertising to Muslims Online

Satisfying the Purchase Intent

Today we see many Muslim marketing entities popping up. Muslim marketers have realized that there is a gap between mainstream marketing and the need for proper messaging to Muslim consumers.

They are aware of the sensitive nature of messaging, use of imagery, and all other marketing and advertising tactics when it comes to the norms, beliefs, and culture of the Muslim consumer.

They are experts in forging marketing strategies and advertising messaging that suits the Muslim community. There are, maybe one or two, who can bring out the message in such a way that it fits the first two variables of the Muslim consumer’s purchase intent.

An Incomplete Solution

Here’s the problem, they all still struggle when it comes to finding Muslim consumers effectively in order to advertise to them.

The best they can do is retarget Muslims who visit their sites or use interest and behavioral data on Facebook and Instagram to target those who have liked Muslim pages, posted Islamic stuff on their feed, or liked someone else’s Islam-related post.

Not to say that this is a bad practice, but it can get quite expensive. It also means that they are depending on data that they do not own; basically putting all the trust in the accuracy of this secondary information that only suggests that those people they are communicating to may be interested in the products they are marketing because they may be Muslims.

It is not as straightforward as someone showing interest in fitness and health products. They show in-market intent, they are actively researching products and subscribe to pages that give them advice about fitness. One being tagged as a Muslim by behavioral and interest patterns does not mean they are actively looking to buy the halal nail polish that you offer on your online store. Do you see the problem there?

MUSLIMREACHThe Complete Solution

As an author of several marketing articles across different brands that offer business owners advice on improving their marketing, I have absolutely no qualms about offering you a solution based on a product that the organization I work with owns. Why? Because it’s the best advice I can give you.

There is just no way around it; MUSLIMREACH™ is the only solution to the problem of targeting Muslims efficiently. If you are an advertiser you know that you have struggled with being able to target Muslim consumers online. 

With MUSLIMREACH™ advertisers today have the ability to reach millions of Muslims through a single central platform.  Remember the separate deals with the likes of Google and Facebook I mentioned earlier? That problem is solved. Not only can business owners and advertisers skip that part, but they can also be less dependent on creating ads on Facebook based on behavioral and interest patterns that merely suggest that someone may be Muslim.

MUSLIMREACH™  also eliminates the need to strike deals with different Muslim publishers where their online ads can show. Just one single platform gives business owners and advertisers access to multiple websites and mobile apps all over the internet. This happens in a matter of minutes.

The profiling and seeding of the audience are what make MUSLIMREACH™ stand out. Muslim Ad Network, the owner of this product, has contracts with a multitude of Muslim publishers online. It collects data on all visitors to those sites. The data is owned by Muslim Ad Network and therefore more reliable.

Remember that example of the fitness product enthusiast? Imagine you have a Hajj and Umrah travel agency. How awesome is it if you can target a Muslim consumer who is looking for tickets to go to Umrah in the same way all over the internet. Not just targeting him because he may be a Muslim.

But this would be almost impossible if there was no MUSLIMREACH™. Well, you would still be able to retarget those who visit your website. However, you already know that you would be selling yourself too short.

As for Muslims being diverse in culture and needs, the solution that Muslim Ad Network offers, as we mentioned before, goes far beyond targeting a person just being Muslim. We work with you to make sure your messaging and targeting matches the type of Muslim consumer you want to attract. From where they are located; to the amount of income they make, to the type of device they use to surf the internet.

Has MUSLIMREACH™ made the impossible possible? Not really, it just so happens that no one else had the dedication to put in 10 years of effort to perfect a product that targets the Muslim consumer so accurately. It is only now that marketers are waking up to the potential of the Muslim market.

In conclusion, we can revisit the Muslim consumer’s purchase intent and see if it can be finally satisfied.

InfluenceMuslim MarketersMUSLIMREACH™
Catering to Muslim Values, Norms, and cultures (internal influences) through proper and cautious messaging.Many marketersThrough dedicated experts. It is not just about technology.          
Using the right images, colors, layouts to cater to the diverse tastes of Muslim consumers (external influences).A few marketers; many overdo the Islamic look with colors, images, and backgrounds.Our team offers advice and in some cases free professional banner design that suits the type of Muslim consumer the advertiser is targeting.
Maximizing the reach to Muslim consumers looking to buy the solution offered (online shopping experience). Not just retargeting visitors or using Facebook presumptive data.NoneDon’t just find an audience that may be Muslim. But access Muslim consumers with a particular need for your solutions in a pool of over 250 million across the internet. No more guesswork. 

One more piece of advice: don’t take my word for it. Check out Muslim Ad Network’s advertiser product overview. Or better yet, click that green button below and open up a new world of advertising to Muslim consumers.

start targeting muslim consumers

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