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Natural market segments: religion and identity – the case of “zongos” in Ghana

Paul Sergius Koku (Graduate School of Business, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




“Zongos” are a part of the urban phenomena in Ghana that have escaped critical social inquiry. The purpose of this paper is three fold. It seeks insight into the reasons zongos continue to attract new dwellers despite their “unattractive” reputation; the role of religion in the choice of residential locations; and the role of Islamic marketing vis‐à‐vis zongos.


As an exploratory study whose objective is to generate insight, the study uses interview technique as an investigative tool. The researcher interviewed eight zongo dwellers from four different zongos (different parts of the country) and from different educational and socio‐economic backgrounds. The interviews were conducted individually with an unstructured format that provides for unlimited follow‐up questions.


The findings suggest that: religion and identity are the common threads that bind zongo dwellers together; zongo dwellers seem to be more religious than the average city dweller; religion informs the behavior of most zongo dwellers; though income plays a role, religion seems to be the overriding reason for the dwellers' choice of zongo as a place to live; and zongo dwellers are aware of the negative image that zongos have, but see their choice of living in a zongo as a step to better practice their religion.

Research limitations/implications

As an exploratory study, the results of this study are not generalizable. Furthermore, the small sample size makes the findings tenuous. Nonetheless, the results are important in the sense that they uncover an aspect of zongos that has not received much attention from academic researchers.

Practical implications

By virtue of not only sharing a common religion, but practicing the tenets of their religion in their daily lives, zongos constitute “natural” market segments that can be profitably addressed by Islamic marketing. The four “Ps” are used to illustrate a strategy that could be used by marketers who wish to serve zongo dwellers.

Social implications

Besides “guiding” the religious sensibility of non‐Muslem entrepreneurs who wish to serve zongo dwellers, Islamic marketing can play a role in educating zongo dwellers on health care, sanitation and environmental preservation issues that seem to be problematic with zongos. Furthermore, Islamic marketing can play a role in educating non‐zongo dwellers about the “positives” of zongos and Islam.


This paper takes an academic approach to studying zongos both as a social and a business phenomenon, and develops a sampler marketing strategy for zongo entrepreneurs based on the insight gained from interviews.



Sergius Koku, P. (2011), "Natural market segments: religion and identity – the case of “zongos” in Ghana", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 177-185.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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