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Segmenting Umrah performers based on outcomes behaviors: a cluster analysis perspective

Islam Elgammal (Business Administration Department, College of Business, University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Tourism Studies Department, Faculty of Tourism, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt)
Ghada Talat Alhothali (Marketing Department, College of Business, University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Annarita Sorrentino (Department of Management and Quantitative Studies (DISAQ) Parthenope, University of Naples, Napoli, Italy)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 18 January 2022

Issue publication date: 10 February 2023

382

Abstract

Purpose

Umrah is a religious ritual that takes place inside the Holy Mosque in Makkah. Umrah can be performed any time during the year; however, performing Umrah in the month of Ramadan is much rewarded. Although the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is hosting this event each year, studies that focus on exploring the Holy Mosque visitor segments are scarce. This study aims to explore and describe the marketing segments of Umrah performers relative to their Umrah experience inside the Holy Mosque of Makkah. Most specifically, this study aims to explore segments of Umrah performers based on their perception of servicescape, hedonic and convenience value and the visitors’ outcome behaviors [i.e. intention to revisit and positive word of mouth (PWOM)].

Design/methodology/approach

Mixed-method techniques of data collection [i.e. self-administered questionnaires (n = 278) and short discussions (n = 10)] were used.

Findings

Cluster analysis is used for data analysis. The findings revealed four clusters of Umrah performers: real, occasional, rational and passionate performers.

Research limitations/implications

This study is a first attempt to target pilgrims based on their experience with the servicescape during the organized religious event; despite its exploratory nature, it reveals interesting insights that will be useful for managers and scholars. Although the study helps to enrich the existing knowledge on visitors’ experience and proposes some implications for practitioners, it does have some limitations. First, convenience sampling was used, and hence the findings cannot be generalized. Second, the limited period of observation did not allow the authors to provide a complete picture of the pilgrims’ behavior; for this reason, the study findings partially describe the phenomenon. Another limitation is related to the difficulty of approaching respondents from Asia or South East Asia although they constitute a significant percentage of the total Umrah performers every year; this is because of the language barrier as data was collected from only English and Arabic speakers. Hence, to overcome these limitations, it is suggested that future studies could be expanded to target Asian respondents and perhaps other nationalities; and could be undertaken in other religious contexts. Moreover, an interesting future study could be carried out to compare the same model during other religious events. Added to that, another growing area of research could be approached by researchers, such as the impact of pilgrims sharing their experiences on influencing E-PWOM.

Practical implications

The findings reveal several implications for policymakers and stakeholders. The segmentation of Umrah performers assists destination managers, policymakers and local firms involved in managing this mass event to identify effective marketing decision-makers, business strategies and policymakers to satisfy the needs of these visitors (Disegna et al., 2011). Particularly, the identification of the key characteristics of these visitors can help destination marketers to develop a marketing mix that suits the needs of each cluster (Smith et al., 2014). Despite that the performers’ main motivation is the religious purpose, marketing strategists can attract the attention of these visitors to visit other religious, cultural and heritage sites in the country.

Social implications

Encouraging the visit to other tourist spots in Saudi has several impacts on nourishing the economy and the community. Tourism in Saudi could encourage entrepreneurs to start new ventures to satisfy the need of visitors to the country. Small-medium enterprises could benefit from tourism as they could target market niches in which leader companies are not serving. For instance, hand-made souvenirs are one of these industries that could grow to satisfy the need of visitors.

Originality/value

The results contribute to the literature of event segmentation by identifying visitors’ profiles to rarely investigated destinations. The findings reveal several implications for policymakers and stakeholders.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work is funded by the deanship of Scientific Research (DSR), University of Jeddah, Jeddah, under grant No. (Uj-02-18-ICP). The authors, therefore, acknowledge with thanks DSR technical and financial support.

The current dataset draws from a larger research project aimed at understanding factors related to religious servicescape.

Citation

Elgammal, I., Alhothali, G.T. and Sorrentino, A. (2023), "Segmenting Umrah performers based on outcomes behaviors: a cluster analysis perspective", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 871-891. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIMA-01-2021-0004

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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