The Muslim Market

How can you reach out to this fast-growing group of consumers?
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This story appears in the April 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

With buying power that's roughly equal to the state of Indiana, the growing U.S. Muslim population--estimated at between 6 million and 8 million people--is an attractive segment for marketers. Reaching them requires an understanding of their culture, beliefs and preferences, says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for advertising agency JWT, which released "Marketing to Muslims," a study of Muslim-American consumer habits, last year.

"Muslims are more interested than most Americans in seeing advertising that acknowledges them," says Mack. She says Muslim-Americans are a neglected market with huge potential for brands that are willing to connect with them. There are a few things to keep in mind, though.

Sex doesn't sell
Like many religious Americans, Muslims are especially turned off by sexual suggestiveness or immodesty, says Mack. Use images that aren't sexually provocative.

Offer the right stuff
Mack says three main areas of consumption are affected by Muslim religious beliefs: food (including abstaining from pork and pork products), household goods and cosmetics (these must be made in accordance with Islamic law) and clothing (modest styles, especially for women, are a must). Muslims also require tailored financial services, as Islamic law prohibits paying or receiving interest.

Reach out online
Many Muslims are turned off by how they are portrayed by U.S. media, so to control the content they consume, they go online. Online shopping is popular with Muslim-Americans, especially when they can't find what they need in stores. So be sure you offer a robust online presence that includes images of Muslims and appropriate messages to connect in a low-key but culturally adept manner.

Edition: July 2017

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