Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
While there have recently been a number of textbooks on marketing in the Islamic market, Paul Temporal's Islamic Branding and Marketing covers new ground with a comprehensive, practice‐oriented volume that focuses on Islam seen not only as a religion or lifestyle, but also as a brand. The author has previously published works covering the field of Asian markets, and he is a brand consultant, especially for East Asian and Muslim markets. He is also responsible for a research project on Islamic Branding and Marketing at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, which is introduced in the book's appendix.
Islamic Branding and Marketing is not a highly scientific book, but a guide for managers. Nevertheless, as Muslim markets are still a neglected field, Temporal's treatment of the topic can be interesting, even to the scientific community. Temporal classifies Islamic branding experiences into three groups – predominantly non‐Muslim enterprises (e.g. Coca Cola or Nike), companies from Muslim majority countries (e.g. Emirates or al‐Jazeera), and decidedly Islamic enterprises (e.g. al‐Rajhi Bank or muxlim.com). While the book aims to cover all three forms of Islamic brands, it focuses mostly on the first and last forms.
A central thesis of this book is that not only companies, but also countries need a strong brand, e.g. to further their export activities. Just like Germany is known as the land of engineers, countries like Brunei could become a pioneer of halal certificates. This means that a larger part of the theory in this volume is dedicated to brand management. Unfortunately, Temporal does not follow this thesis throughout the whole book, for after introducing this idea, in the next chapter he thoroughly describes the heterogeneity of Muslim markets with a discussion of secondary sources. As expected, there is no one “Muslim market” and there are profound differences between Muslims in the West and their “home countries”. In the light of the economic difficulties in many Muslim majority countries, the author warns of overestimating the purchasing power in these markets. In the course of the book, he then implicitly focuses more on the educated middle and upper classes of Muslim majority countries, or the more affluent Muslim immigrants.
So what are “Muslim products and services”? Temporal classifies potential markets for these – food, cosmetics, media, financial services, etc. – and gives an in‐depth account of the role of the internet and social media. Up to this point, Islamic Branding and Marketing still have much in common with the literature on ethno‐marketing.
In his remarks on the content of a brand, or the values which a Muslim enterprise could represent, the author goes into detail on Islamic law and Islamic values. He qualifies these as fundamental for Islamic countries, and argues that these values could, as universal human values, also be relevant for other markets. A bank which positions itself convincingly as “honest” and “disciplined” would of course not only be interesting for Muslims; but as the large number of non‐Muslim customers shows, be trustworthy for everyone. Unfortunately, a discussion of the universality of values and ethics does not follow.
The last third of the book includes strategies for successful brand management – again differentiating between Islamic and non‐Islamic enterprises. The success factors are catchy, even if a bit broad‐brushed, as can be expected from applied management literature. These factors are also rather similar to the strategy recommendations for developing countries, such as Diehl and Christiaans (2007).
As an Anglo‐Saxon author, Temporal of course includes many case studies, ranging from Nestlé's halal products to Sami Yusuf as an “Islamic pop star”. It would have been interesting to include more unsuccessful cases, and the 32 cases often read somewhat like company profiles. Nevertheless, the reader is given instructive best practices, such as a new interpretation of waqf foundations as a case for business ethics, or the problem of the different standards for halal certificates in different countries, which could easily be made into a case for information economics. It is apparent that most “Western” examples are from the UK, which poses the question: “Are halal products really that more successful in Great Britain than in France or Germany, or is it simply because Temporal teaches in Oxford?”
This is just one of the many questions that, intentionally or by chance, could give inspiration for further research. Unfortunately, and this is a definite weakness of the book, Islamic Branding and Marketing has no bibliography and, apart from the appendix on the Saïd Business School, little connection to marketing science. Sadly, there are no references to culture theory and sociology, which could answer questions such as who makes purchasing decisions in a family, or what counts as trustworthy in a specific culture. Temporal merely refers to the importance of getting to know the target markets well, and points out the cooperation with local companies as a strategy.
From a scientific viewpoint, Islamic Branding and Marketing does not break new ground, and leaves many questions unanswered, which of course could lead to new research questions. From an applied management viewpoint – and I assume that this is the target audience of this book – it can be seen as an “Islamic addition” to standard knowledge in management and marketing. Temporal underpins the success factors he proposes with many examples and the book is overall a good read. The reader is expected to have a basic undergraduate knowledge of international marketing, since there is neither a glossary, nor are all marketing acronyms explained. In a field with little, but growing literature, Islamic Branding and Marketing certainly has value as a field guide for marketing in Islamic countries and for Islamic brands. However, a comprehensive marketing textbook for Islamic countries and enterprises is still pending.
About the reviewer
Moritz Botts is a research and teaching assistant at the chair of international management at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Moritz Botts can be contacted at: botts@europa‐uni.de
Diehl, J.C. and Christiaans, H. (2007), “How to design for the base of the pyramid?”, paper presented at the 7th European Academy of Design Conference (EAD), Izmir, 11‐13 April.