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Controversial product advertisements in Lebanon: A study of Sunni-Shi’a sectarian disparities and similarities

Maya F. Farah (School of Business, Lebanese American University (LAU), Beirut, Lebanon)
Lamis El Samad (School of Business, Lebanese American University (LAU), Beirut, Lebanon)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of religious sect on the Lebanese consumer’s perception of controversial product advertisements.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used a quantitative survey that was administered to a purposive representative sample of respondents from the two main Muslim sects in the country, namely, Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Findings

The results indicated significant differences in perceptions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims with regards to the offensiveness of the advertising of controversial products. Briefly, Sunni Muslims found the advertising of social and political as well as health and care products more offensive, whereas Shiite Muslims found the advertising of gender and sex-related products more offensive, and no significant difference in offensiveness perception between the two sects was found with regards to the advertising of addictive products.

Research limitations/implications

Two main limitations faced the researchers: the fact that the respondents were not shown examples of offensive product advertisements; and that religiosity was not measured for the respondents, which could also be a factor in offensiveness perception.

Practical implications

The study indicates that a consumer’s religious sect can play a determining role in how he/she perceives product advertisement, thus encouraging marketers to consider the differences between these sects while advertising to ensure no potential consumers are alienated.

Originality/value

Although research has looked into the impact of religiosity and religion on the perception of offensive product advertisements, minimal research exists on the impact of religious sects on the perception of offensive product advertisement. The results of this study provide some insights into the consumer behavior differences between the two sects.

Keywords

Citation

Farah, M.F. and El Samad, L. (2015), "Controversial product advertisements in Lebanon: A study of Sunni-Shi’a sectarian disparities and similarities", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 22-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIMA-02-2014-0013

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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