Islamic Branding and Marketing: Creating a Global Islamic Business

Afia Rahma Fitriati (Paramadina Graduate School, Jakarta, Indonesia)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 14 September 2012

1203

Keywords

Citation

Rahma Fitriati, A. (2012), "Islamic Branding and Marketing: Creating a Global Islamic Business", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 283-285. https://doi.org/10.1108/17590831211259754

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


This book is written to bridge the literature gap on the field of Islamic branding and marketing. It discusses the challenges and opportunities that companies face in building brands for Muslim markets. Brand management expert Paul Temporal also offers insights and recommendations on how to build brand equity in Muslim markets, both for Muslim as well as non‐Muslim owned companies. Illustrated with relevant case studies and grounded in current research in the field of Islamic branding and marketing, the book is a recommended reading for anyone interested in learning about this growing field, especially companies seeking to enter the Muslim markets.

The preface of this book highlights the potential of the global Muslim market and the scope of Islamic branding and marketing definition in this book. Temporal argues that given the sheer size of the world's Muslim population, the prominence of Islam, and branding interest in Muslim markets, there is no doubt that the next wave of global branding will come from Islamic economies and companies. In terms of definition, the phrase “Islamic branding and marketing” used in this book refers to any brands that seek to address the needs of Muslim markets, regardless of its country of origin or whether or not it has Muslim ownership.

The first chapter of this book provides basic knowledge of Islam and where it stands in the context of trade. Readers with little knowledge of Islam or the Islamic world may benefit from learning a few facts about Islam that are largely unknown to many people living in the West. For example: the difference between Islam and other religions, the underlying principles of Islamic economics, and the definitions of Islamic terms such as halal, shariah, and fatwa. The author points out that since all forms of social, economic, and political activities in Islam are governed by Shariah law, thus branding and marketing activities should also fall under Shariah law. A part worth noting from this chapter is when the author writes: “How are Islamic brands doing? In short, the answer is: ‘Not very well’”, and goes on to list the reasons behind the problem, namely: overfocusing on short‐term profits and neglecting the longer‐term nature of brand building, a tendency to rely on making products for other companies (OEM), a misconception among company executives that brand building is a tactical – as opposed to strategic – matter with little asset value, over‐reliance on the status quo, and a lack of brand building support by the government. However, this situation is gradually changing with the increasing interest in branding and marketing by companies in Islamic countries.

Chapter 2 discusses the importance of country branding and why Islamic countries should encourage brand building efforts. Given his extensive knowledge in international marketing and consulting, temporal puts forth a convincing argument that employing clear, consistent, and well‐monitored brand differentiation strategies is a strategic imperative that not only will help a country to survive in a changing world, but also benefit the nation in achieving its objectives. To illustrate this point, in addition to brief explanations of country‐of‐origin effects to products made in China, Japan, and Germany, the chapter also discusses two case studies of the Brunei Halal Brand and the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Insights from this chapter may prompt readers to analyze their own country brands and think about how it may help or hinder the competitiveness of their products, brands, or companies.

One of the most interesting chapters of this book is Chapter 3, titled “An overview of muslim markets”. This chapter summarizes key findings from studies conducted by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Gallup Coexist Index, JWT, and Ogilvy Noor. The findings of these studies provide a glimpse of several demographic and sociographic data in a number of Muslim markets. While these data need further follow up studies before they can be used for creating marketing strategies in these markets, they still provide some interesting insights that illustrate to the reader the breadth of diversity within Muslim markets. To brand managers and marketers, these differences imply that they will have to adopt multiple marketing strategies in order to build international Islamic brands. The chapter is closed with a note from the author reminding the reader that despite the challenges of understanding the different behaviors of Muslim markets, there are opportunities across many categories in these markets, which are discussed in further details in Chapter 6.

The author provides a summary of Islamic brands architecture in Chapter 5 to prepare the reader for Chapter 6. This structural framework helps the reader to grasp the big picture, or macro level, of Islamic brands, which according to the author is “a somewhat confused marketplace”. Then in Chapters 6 and 7, the author discusses the various opportunities in Islamic branding, which he categorizes into eight groups: Islamic foods and beverages; Islamic finance; Islamic education; Islamic entertainment and “edutainment”; Islamic travel, tourism, and leisure; Islamic medical, pharmaceutical, and beauty products and services; Islamic fashion and products for women; and Islamic internet, media, and digital products and services. Each category is complemented with a relevant example or a case study. Considering that hijab is often considered as an important part of a Muslim woman's identity, is a highly political issue in some countries, and that the size of the fast‐growing global Islamic fashion industry is already estimated at nearly five times the size of UK's fashion industry (Janmohamed, 2011), it is rather disappointing that the discussion on Islamic fashion and products for women is shorter than the discussion on other categories, with only a little mention of two brands – Burqini and Aab – and no case study given.

The author concludes Chapter 6 by pointing out yet once again that despite the vast opportunities in the Muslim world, there is a lack of strong Islamic brands in the market. However, the rise of the digital media, which is explained in great detail in Chapter 7, represents a growth opportunity for Islamic brands.

Chapter 8, which discusses the six challenges faced by Islamic brands, is followed with the author's recommendations of key success factors and strategies for aspiring Islamic brands. Although Islamic brands aspiring to gain a foothold in their chosen markets face daunting challenges, through case studies discussions of brands such as Al Rajhi Bank in Malaysia and Olpers in Pakistan, the author inspires hope that building strong Islamic brands is not an impossible task.

One section worth underlining in Chapter 9 is Section 7, where the author recommends developing ethical business models using Islamic values and practices as one of the key strategies for building strong Islamic brands. The case study given for this chapter is the Johor Corporation in Malaysia, which has successfully implemented the Islamic concept of waqf in an innovative way. The implementation of waqf concept has succeeded in improving the performance of the organization as well as benefiting the surrounding community.

For non‐Muslim brands interested in entering the Muslim markets, the book dedicates Chapter 10 to discuss the challenges and key strategies in achieving this objective. The take out point for this chapter is that it is crucial for non‐Muslim brands to study, be sensitive, and understand the culture and characters of the market they are planning to enter, and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The final chapter of this book summarizes brand strategy programs for Muslim markets which have been discussed in the previous chapters. The summary is divided into two sections, strategies for non‐Muslim brands and strategies for Muslim brands. Though for the most part the strategies for non‐Muslim brands are quite insightful, the fourth strategy that suggests to “go for the luxury market” seems a bit contradictory to what the author suggests in the previous chapter, which is to be sensitive and adaptive to the characters of the market that the brand is targeting. Indeed, as Prahalad (2005) has discussed, building a brand targeted to the world's poor – many of them residing in Muslim countries – is not only a possible proposition, but has proved to be a profitable strategy. Furthermore, by serving such market, a company is seen as operating in line with the concepts of Islamic economics, which aims to promote the falah (success, happiness) of society. This, in turn, will contribute positively to the image of the brand involved.

A book about branding in Asia would be incomplete without a discussion on Chinese brands. Similarly, given that Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, it is rather strange that the book does not include even one case study from this country, aside from a few mentions of several multinational companies operating in the nation. In addition, some facts in the book need further scrutiny. As an example, Sunsilk Clean & Fresh, which is cited as a succesful lifestyle brand in Chapter 11 has had a lukewarm response in Indonesia and has subsequently been withdrawn from the market.

Overall, this book offers the reader plenty of useful knowledge and insights about branding strategies for the Muslim market. Moreover, it provides the reader with conceptual frameworks that are useful for evaluating different Muslim markets. The cases used represent a nice spectrum of industries and give excellent examples on how to apply and adapt the concepts and strategies in this book into real‐life practice.

References

Janmohamed, S. (2011), “Muslim fashion”, Beyondbrics, 27 September, available at: http://blogs.ft.com/beyond‐brics/2011/09/27/guest‐post‐muslim‐fashion/#ixzz1Z9sT9kZV (accessed 22 March 2012).

Prahalad, C.K. (2005), The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

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