Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour: a systematic literature review

Jessen Floren (Asia Pacific Institute of Advanced Research (APIAR), Gordon, Australia)
Tareq Rasul (Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide, Australia)
Azmat Gani (Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 14 October 2019

Issue publication date: 24 October 2020




The purpose of this study is to systematically review the existing literature on Islamic marketing and its major impacts on consumer behaviours. In addition, this study seeks to shed light on global trends and dynamics beyond Islamic marketing and how Islam, as one of the most prominent religions worldwide, affects the consumption and purchasing choices of Muslim consumers.


A systematic literature review of published peer-reviewed articles on Islamic marketing was conducted. A comprehensive search strategy was applied on different databases, including Google Scholar, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, MUSE and Directory of Open Access Journals, and the retrieved articles were then selected from 14 leading journals published between 2010 and 2018.


Islam as a religion has been found to impact the ethical beliefs and behaviours of Muslim consumers from different countries, as well as consumers’ choice of services and some taboo products on the basis of Islamic Shariah law. The results show that Islamic marketing has a significant impact on the characteristics of Muslim consumers and therefore affects their key choices about certain products and services.

Research limitations/implications

The studies included in this review are extensively based on peer-reviewed articles published in high-ranked marketing journals (A* and A in the Australian Business Deans Council list), which may be perceived as a limitation in the present study. Another limitation is that this study only took into account peer-reviewed articles written in English.

Practical implications

The important relationship between Islam and the heterogeneous Muslim consumer will have a considerable practical implication for companies that explore the marketing supply capacity in the Islamic world. The authors hereby expect the current review to significantly impact the identification of methodologies for the main trends in the academic analysis of Islamic marketing and Islamic consumer behaviour.


This review provides a strong contribution to Islamic marketing literature by recommending the need to integrate the Islamic practices related to consumer consumption of goods and services in studies focused on consumer behaviour analysis.



Floren, J., Rasul, T. and Gani, A. (2020), "Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour: a systematic literature review", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 6, pp. 1557-1578.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

1. Introduction

Islam is a fast-growing religion, and followers of Islam are called Muslims. According to the population projections of the Pew Research Centre (2017), the Muslim population is expected to reach 2.99 billion by 2060 or approximately 31 per cent of the world population. On current population numbers by religion, Muslims form a large and rapidly growing consumer group (Temporal, 2011). There is a general increase in demand among Muslim consumers for Sharia-compliant products and services. This refers primarily to the halal market, with services and products ranging from food and beverages to fashion, cosmetics, travel and entertainment. Halal means “permissible” and refers to a set of rules that defines permissible and forbidden activities. More specifically, halal products should not contain haram (prohibited) ingredients, incur the exploitation of labour or the environment or be harmful (Rehman and Shabbir, 2010). Muslims are encouraged to scrutinise each product and stay away from its consumption if in doubt. The halal food market is seen as the largest and most diverse sector of the global Islamic economy, which is expected to surpass $1.9tn in size by 2023 (Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, 2018). Likewise, there is a rising consumer power of Muslim millennials, which signals the importance of religious lifestyle (Izberk-Bilgin and Nakata, 2016).

Rising per capita incomes in countries with significant Muslim population, as well as elsewhere, together with demographic shifts, has given rise to a demand for Sharia-compliant products. This is making Islamic markets increasingly attractive to domestic as well as foreign trading companies. The findings of research into Islamic markets tend to indicate that there has been a steady increase in the number of companies that are keen to invest in halal markets. Large multinational firms such as Nestlé, Unilever, Colgate, McDonald’s and L’Oréal are world-known brands which have developed a well-recognised presence in Islamic markets supplying Islamic Sharia-compliant products to their consumers (Alserhan, 2010; Izberk-Bilgin and Nakata, 2016). There is also a sense of recognition in non-Islamic countries of marketing Islamic-compliant products. Despite these developments, marketing to Muslim consumers can be challenging if incorrect or insensible marketing strategies are applied.

1.1 Research gaps and objectives

Islamic marketing is an emerging and recognisable field of study (Wilson, 2012a; Alserhan et al., 2016). While recent literature indicates a growing level of interest in research in Islamic marketing, this for a long time remained “an untapped and viable market segment” (Sandikci, 2011, p. 246). It is also worth noting that Islamic marketing has largely remained a homogeneous and regional marketing niche (for the critique see Alserhan and Alserhan, 2012; Wilson and Grant, 2013). Sandikci (2011) has also distinguished two phases in the scholarship on Islam and marketing: omission and discovery. Omission refers to Muslims as traditional and Islam as incompatible with modern consumer behaviour, while discovery refers to Muslims as a viable consumer segment (Sandikci, 2011). It seems that the literature remains unsettled in terms of classifying how marketing fits into the disciplinary area of teaching and research. There is an ongoing discussion on whether to consider Islamic marketing a new and separate discipline (Sandikci, 2011; Wilson and Liu, 2011; Yusof and Jusoh, 2014; Abdullah et al., 2015). There is also no consensus on what the term Islamic marketing means (for a discussion, see Yusof and Jusoh, 2014; Alserhan, 2015; Wilson and Liu, 2011). Wilson (2012b, p. 104) summarises the ambiguity of the term by posing a question: When we talk about Islamic marketing do we mean “[…] a religion, a culture, an approach, or a business and management function”? Furthermore, is it necessary to make a distinction between Muslim, Islamic and Halal to the wider global community not familiar with these terms as they are often used interchangeably (Wilson and Liu, 2011)?

Islamic marketing can be considered to be closely aligned with the area of ethnic marketing. However, its particular connection with religion defines its specificity (Melewar and Alwi, 2018). Islamic religion provides a broad and deep spectrum of a way of living; the literature tends to suggest that the specificity aspect concentrates on religious beliefs and commitments that influence people’s attitude and behaviour towards consumption (Mittelstaedt, 2002; Jamal, 2003; Fam et al., 2004). These researchers are in agreement that religion remains an under-studied area in consumer behaviour and wider-marketing literatures (Essoo and Dibb, 2004; Sandikci, 2011; Muhamad and Mizerski, 2010). Islamic marketing is often defined as a God-conscious approach to marketing (Wilson 2012a) which aims at striking “[…] a balance between material and spiritual needs in any situation of human existence” (Bouzenita and Boulanouar, 2016, p. 77).

Despite the recent growth of interest in Islamic marketing and businesses based on Islamic products, research output on Islamic marketing in terms of publications appearing in international mainstream marketing journals remains deficient. To have a decent stocktake of publications in Islamic marketing and for the discipline to progress further, there is an urgency to systematically craft and assemble Islamic publications so as to create an interest among researchers and highlight areas under current research and areas where future research can be directed. The central objective of this study is to provide a systematic review of the research on Islamic marketing and related consumer behaviour. In doing so, this study also attempts to determine Islamic marketing dynamics and global trends, mapping core topical areas of research undertaken and to highlight possible future research directions in Islamic marketing. An essential aspect of this study is that it also attempts to clarify the scope and effects of religiosity (Islam) on Islamic marketing and the key characteristics of Muslim consumers. A study of this nature is expected to identify and assess the relevance of criticisms expressed by some experts in the field concerning the general perception of Muslim consumers as a homogeneous group (Alserhan and Alserhan, 2012; Wilson and Grant, 2013), and the poor understanding of the religion’s role in consumption and marketing (Essoo and Dibb, 2004; Sandikci, 2011; Rehman and Shabbir, 2010; Muhamad and Mizerski, 2010). Likewise, the potential confirmation of Muslim consumers’ heterogeneity and the role of religiosity in consumer behaviour will have considerable practical implications for international brands and organisations that explore marketing possibilities in the Islamic world. We expect the current review to contribute to the identification and systematisation of the leading tendencies and approaches in the academic analysis of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour.

This study is structured as follows. Section 2 briefly presents a number of key aspects of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. Section 3 discusses previous literature on Islamic marketing, following the works of Alserhan and Alserhan (2012). Section 4 offers a detailed discussion of the methodology adopted in this review process where the objectives are explained and assessed, followed by a presentation and discussion of the findings. Section 5 concludes with some recommendations for future research initiatives in marketing. Section 6 provides the limitations of this study and directions for future research.

2. Literature review

Research on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour were not on the research agenda in the marketing mainstream prior to the launch of two well-known journals on Islamic marketing – The Journal of Islamic Marketing (JIMA) and the International Journal of Islamic Marketing and Branding (IJIMB). JIMA was launched in 2010, whereas the IJIMB was launched in 2015. These journals provide a platform for research in Islamic marketing, and since their launch, several studies in the subject area have appeared. At present, research covers a wide range of topics related to the questions of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour, with coverage in countries, including Muslim and Western societies. Similar to other domains of social sciences, the field of Islamic marketing presents a mixture of conceptual, descriptive and empirical studies.

A review of the literature reveals that there is an ongoing academic debate and discussion on the potential exceptionalism of Islamic marketing. At the core is the conceptual dispute on the essence and nature of Islamic marketing as published in the Journal of Business Research by authors such as El-Bassiouny (2014, 2016) and Jafari and Sandikci (2015, 2016). El-Bassiouny (2014, 2016) has argued that the notable role of religion in Islamic marketing causes a deep polarisation in opinions on whether to acknowledge the marginalisation of Muslim consumers as opposed to non-Muslim consumers and the meagre study of Islamic marketing itself as a discipline of its own or whether to consider these facts as characteristics of an emerging field of study (Jafari and Sandikci, 2015, 2016). Interestingly, the term Islamic marketing officially emerged only in 2010 when JIMA was launched and the first book on the subject – The Principles of Islamic Marketing by Alserhan (2011) – was published (Jafari and Sandikci, 2015).

On a larger scale, a number of experts have argued that researchers have been narrowly applying a Western theoretical framework in their analysis of Islamic marketing (Alserhan, 2015; Zakaria and Abdul-Talib, 2010). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Bouzenita and Boulanouar, 2016) and profit maximisation (Ali et al., 2013; Saeed et al., 2001) – the two concepts widely applied in marketing studies – are used as examples of the inability and/or unsuitability of existing concepts to grasp and explain Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. Alserhan (2010) argues that the uncritical reliance on Western cultural models and theoretical paradigms may produce inconclusive or even inaccurate research. Similarly, Wilson and Liu (2010) suggest that approaching halal from within existing conceptual frameworks will produce potential gaps in understanding the depth of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. As an example, the authors refer to the notion of supply chain, the key principles of which – better quality products, delivered more quickly, for lower costs and with a stronger brand presence – would not necessarily be accepted as halal. The ethics, behaviour and intentions of producers are of the utmost importance. Thus, the concept of supply chain needs further adaptation (Wilson and Liu, 2010). In a similar way, Ahmed (2008) reflects on the importance of trust and authenticity in consumer interactions. In his empirical study conducted among UK Muslims, he observes contradictory (from the classical marketing approach) responses: although respondents admitted that supermarkets which sold halal meat were more hygienic and sold better quality products, the majority of respondents still preferred their local butchers.

The essence of the debate comes down to the question of the Muslim consumers’ uniqueness because of their distinctive “life outlook and buying characteristics that are directly related to their strongly-held religious beliefs” (El-Bassiouny, 2014, p. 43). El-Bassiouny (2014) argued further on the related necessity of a unique approach in their study, qualitatively different from the Judeo-Christian framework applied in the existing marketing literature. Indeed, a number of studies point to the challenges of applying existing theories and models in the study of Islamic marketing (Ali et al., 2013; Bouzenita and Boulanouar, 2016; Saeed et al., 2001). Nevertheless, a closer examination of the existing works on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour reveals a much broader and more complex dimensionality of the subject. Most notably, the studies exhibit the complexity of the interplay between globalisation, tradition, religion, business ethics, consumerism, personal choices and social pressure.

Taking into account the role religion plays in the daily activities of Islamic businesses and Muslim consumers, the growing number of publications looks into interactions between marketing principles and Islamic values (Khan et al., 2015; Oyedele and Firat, 2018; Livanis et al., 2016; Shaikh et al., 2018). In particular, researchers emphasise the role of Islamic ethics, which offers to businesses its own marketing practice prescriptions and shapes government policies and corporate decisions (Ali and Al-Aali, 2015; Ali et al., 2013).

The possibility of the second typology – by the degree of religiosity and its impact on consumption – has been discussed in two articles. Muhamad and Mizerski (2013) based their analysis of consumer behaviour on a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic religious motivation, arguing and successfully demonstrating their different effects on consumer decisions. This typology can be further detailed and reinforced by the distinction between four segments of consumers proposed and applied in Muhamad et al. (2012). The latter typology allows measurement of the degree of a consumer’s religiosity vis-à-vis consumption on the ordinary scale of measurement. Indeed, a number of studies in our sample confirm differentiated effects of religion on consumer behaviour, depending on the individual degree of religiosity.

The dynamic interplay between marketing principles and Islamic values lead researchers to the observations of potential mergers and tensions between them. Some researchers identify a symbiotic relationship between religion and the market (Sandikci and Ger, 2010; Ger, 2013). In a series of studies on the expression of faith through fashion, Sandikci and Ger (2007, 2010) demonstrate how the Islamic fashion industry creates an image of a modern Muslim woman which is attainable through consumption (Sandikci and Ger, 2007), transforming veiling, for example, into a fashionable practice (Sandikci and Ger, 2010). Likewise, researchers warn about potential impacts the merger between capitalism and Islam may have on society (Ger, 2013; Suerdem, 2013) or express their concerns about the marketisation and branding of Islam through increased consumerism (Suerdem, 2013). At the same time, other researchers are more inclined to see potential tensions between marketing and Islam (El-Bassiouyni, 2014). In particular, there are concerns about the ideological use of religion in the marketplace (Izberk-Bilgin, 2012), which may lead to the market becoming a site of ideological conflict (Jafari and Goulding, 2013) and religiously motivated boycotts (Maher and Mady, 2010; Halimi et al., 2017). Moreover, Rauschnabel et al. (2015) warn about the possibility of the spillover effect that religious labelling of products may have on non-religious consumers. The authors argue that although religious labelling may offer companies an opportunity to expand their products’ appeal to larger and new target groups, it may likewise cause certain spillover effects among other consumer groups. This is in line with other studies which caution against overly opportunistic marketing behaviour that can create new forms of identity conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim consumer groups (Suerdem, 2013; Linh and Bouchon, 2013).

One interesting observation is that over half of all articles present results of research conducted in Western societies. Such a choice clearly demonstrates the growing importance of Muslim consumers in the global economy. It may equally refer to the strategic choices of the editors interested in global trends. The prevailing focus on Malaysia among Muslim societies is possibly related to the ambition of this country to become a global halal hub (Rahman et al., 2013).

Overall, however, there is a growing number of studies that demonstrate how consumers and companies alike manage to reconcile the demands and realities of globalisation with the continuation of local cultural, social and religious traditions (Sandikci et al., 2016; Cherrier and Belk, 2015; Dedeoğlu and Güzeler, 2015; Hino, 2015). Schechter (2011) applies the term glocal conservatism, describing the mixture of global and local marketing practices in Saudi society.

The complexity of macromarketing developments is matched by no less complex individual consumer responses. While a number of studies demonstrate how Muslim consumers learn to negotiate religious demands and existing taboos (Sabri, 2012; Yalkin and Veer, 2018), others point to the considerable effects of social and in-group religious pressures on personal consumer choices (Karatas and Sandikci, 2013; Maher and Mady, 2010; Rauf et al., 2018).

Reviewed studies map up the emerging field of Islamic marketing as one characterised by a variety of business approaches and purchase decisions under the umbrella of religious guidance. We are inclined to agree that the term authorised selection proposed by Jafari and Suerdem (2012) describes the essence of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. What follows next is a discussion of our research methodology.

3. Research methodology

The research methodology includes a systematic literature review (SLR) to determine the dynamics of the field, potential research gaps and future research expectations. SLR is a method that brings together and critically evaluates publications on the subject; it helps to assess the replicability of findings and their possible inconsistencies (Siddaway et al., 2019). The first attempt at putting together a SLR in the field of Islamic marketing was done by Alserhan and Alserhan (2012). The authors reviewed the articles published in the marketing journals between 1936 and 2011 and concluded that despite the emergence of Muslims as a significant consumer group globally, research pertaining to the subject of interest had been inadequate. Muslim consumers are the least-researched consumer group compared to other religious or ethnic groups (Christian, Chinese and Indian consumer groups). Only 40 articles have been published on the subject in 8 decades and only 2 articles in high-ranking marketing journals. An extensive review of the previous research indicates that only a few publications on Muslim consumers appeared prior to 1992.

The goal of this SLR is threefold: to assess the visibility of the research subject in more recent academic literature, to define the major areas of research interest and to outline potential directions for future analysis. In terms of visibility, we are interested in tracing the recent dynamics of publications. We pose the following questions: Has there been a steady increase in the number of publications on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour? What are the main topics of interest? Likewise, we identify methods of analysis, samples, demographics and independent and dependent variables. We draw conclusions on the major findings and future directions in the study of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour.

3.1 Selection process

We selected a pool of articles by defining criteria for their inclusion and exclusion and by listing the key elements, which will be coded for each article.

Firstly, we delineated our selection and search procedures. This review concentrates on articles published in the top (peer-reviewed) international marketing and consumer journals. Only the journals ranked A* and A on the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) list have been included in the review (Australian Business Deans Council, 2018). The following 28 journals have been selected (in alphabetical order): European Journal of Marketing, Industrial Marketing Management, International Journal of Research in Marketing, International Marketing Review, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Journal of International Marketing, Journal of Macromarketing, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, Journal of Vacation Marketing, Marketing Letters, Marketing Science, Marketing Theory, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Advertising, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Research and Journal of Business Ethics.

Our decision to focus exclusively on articles published in the leading international marketing journals may be perceived as a limitation. Our decision is driven by one of the aims of the research: we want to estimate the visibility of Islamic marketing as an academic field of study. Approached from this perspective, leading international journals are likely to be the prime point of reference for academics and experts alike. The search is further limited by a time frame. Only articles published after 2010 are examined. The previous SLR conducted in the field of Islamic marketing by Alserhan and Alserhan (2012) included an exhaustive search of articles published in the leading marketing journals between 1935 and 2011.

3.2 Database search

Initially, a number of electronic academic databases were consulted (Google Scholar, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, MUSE and Directory of Open Access Journals). Islamic marketing and Muslim consumer were used as the keywords in this exercise. The search in three of the databases (JSTOR, ScienceDirect and MUSE) yielded rather different results. The search for journal articles published between 2010 and 2018 by the keyword Islamic marketing listed 1,449 (JSTOR), 1,810 (ScienceDirect) and 490 (MUSE) articles. Similarly, the search with the keyword Muslim consumer came up with 1,786 (JSTOR), 1,481 (ScienceDirect) and 750 (MUSE) articles. Because of the high discrepancy in the number of articles produced by each of the chosen databases, it was decided to shift the process to the search options on the websites of the individual journals. For each journal, we searched for articles with the following keywords: Islamic + marketing, Islamic + consumer, Muslim + marketing, Muslim + consumer, halal + marketing and halal+consumer. At this initial stage, we looked for the keywords in the titles, abstracts or main body of articles. Subsequently, the selection process was conducted. Only research articles were selected for further analysis. Book reviews, editorials and conference announcements were removed from further consideration. Likewise, we excluded conceptual articles which offered general typologies without any specific focus on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. Similarly, we excluded cross-country quantitative studies without an in-depth focus on Muslim/Islamic societies. To make this point clear, we offer the example of two articles published in the Journal of Business Research. A cross-cultural study of cosmopolitanism by Cleveland et al. (2013) is included in the subsequent SLR analysis as it examines and compares the samples of Canadian and Turkish consumers. On the other hand, a multilevel and multi-country analysis on religiousness and environmental concern among consumers by Felix et al. (2018) is excluded from the analysis as it deals with aggregations and generalisations for all the countries.

Upon taking into account all hitherto-mentioned selection criteria, our search yielded 225 articles on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour published in the leading international marketing and consumer journals (A* and A in the ABDC list) and listed on the journals’ websites. Only 129 of them were published between 2010 and 2018.

As the next step, each extended abstract, and, when necessary, the entire text of the articles, were scanned for definite relevance. The final selection of the articles was guided by the definition of Islamic marketing as a study of “different marketing phenomena in relation to Islamic principles and practices” (Jafari, 2012, p. 23) and consumer behaviour based on the same principles. At this stage, the articles with no direct focus on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour were excluded from subsequent analysis. This means that we have excluded, for example, articles that, although investigating marketing and consumer-related subjects in predominantly Muslim countries, did not approach them as essentially or necessarily Islamic. Likewise, we have excluded conceptual and descriptive articles, articles based on the analysis of the secondary sources and ethnographic and historical accounts. At the end of this selection, we came up with 31 empirical articles.

3.3 Overview of the analysed articles

As the next step, we looked at the research composition of the articles. The distinction was made between qualitative and quantitative types of analysis. If the article deployed mixed methods, the prevailing method was chosen. We also checked whether the research was comparative and in which country/countries it was conducted. Further coding included the sample size and the population, research area, topics and methods used to analyse the data.

4. Findings

Our initial search resulted in 225 articles on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour, published in the leading marketing journals and accessed through their websites. Only 129 (57 per cent) of them were published during the analysed period (2010-2018). A total of 7 out of 28 journals did not publish articles on the topic. A total of 11 other journals published fewer than 10 articles. Only ten journals published more than ten articles on the topic of Islamic marketing in the past nine years. It is our understanding that of these journals, only Marketing Theory has published a special issue devoted to Islamic marketing: Islamic Encounters in Consumption and Marketing (2013, vol. 13, no. 4). Distribution of the articles in the journals can be viewed in Table II.

The total number of published articles has more than doubled from only 10 articles in 2010 to 23 in 2018, the year with the highest total number of published articles (Figure 1).

Once our research criteria were further adjusted, the number of publications with a direct focus on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour was reduced to 31. These articles were published in 14 journals. The Journal of Business Research published ten articles, the Journal of Services Marketing published four articles and the Journal of Marketing Management published three articles. The rest of the journals have published one or two articles on the relevant subject (Table III). Despite the general scarcity of the articles, there is a steady increase in their numbers.

All the articles selected for the analysis are based on primary empirical research. The majority (19 articles or 61 per cent) use quantitative analysis. The rest of the articles apply qualitative analysis. It is worth mentioning that four articles, which we have coded as quantitative, apply mixed methods of analysis where the findings of the pilot qualitative study serve as the basis for a larger-scale quantitative analysis (Abosad and Farah, 2014; Jamal and Sharifuddin, 2015; Wahab et al., 2016; Duman and Ozgen, 2018).

A total of 12 articles (36 per cent) are comparative in nature, focusing, predominantly, on similarities and differences between consumer groups. The majority of them (eight articles) compare consumer patterns of different religious groups. Six articles look at the varying patterns of religious communities within a country (Lebanon, India, Austria and UK), while two other articles introduce cross-country comparisons (Germany vs Turkey; Israel vs Tunisia vs USA). There are two other cross-country comparisons among the SLR articles. The research by Wilkins et al. (2017) analyses consumer behaviour and post-purchase intentions of non-Muslim consumers of halal food in the UK, Spain and Canada. The work by Kim et al. (2014) compares the destination preferences (China, Japan and South Korea) of Muslim travellers in Asia. Additionally, one comparative article looks at the patterns of mixed cultural identity among young British South Asian adults (Dey et al., 2017). Finally, the article by Oumlil and Balloun (2017) compares ethical business decision-making in individualistic and collective cultures.

Overall, the studies have been conducted in 19 countries. Geographically, this includes seven Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, Lebanon and Kuwait), two South Asian countries (India and Pakistan), one Southeast Asian country (Malaysia), two North African countries (Morocco and Libya), four Western European countries (Austria, Germany, Spain and UK), two North American countries (Canada and USA) and Australia. The greatest share of research has been carried out in UK (seven articles) and Malaysia (six articles).

Samples come from various groups of population. Over 70 per cent of articles draw their samples from consumer groups. Researchers deal with diverse consumer groups (e.g. women, young adults and students). Only four articles focus on the analysis of managers or executives. A few other articles deal with religious organisations (2), websites (1), small shop owners (1) and employees (1). In terms of the chosen samples, 10 articles have a sample of fewer than 100 participants; 13 articles have a sample of up to 500 participants; and, 8 articles have a sample of 500 or more participants. The size of the sample in the analysed articles depends on the choice of method. Qualitative publications tend to have a smaller number of participants. Only two articles have a sample greater than 1,000, including an article which analysed online reviews (Kamarulzaman et al., 2015). The second one, with a sample of 1,097 respondents, is a quantitative analysis conducted in three countries (Wilkins et al., 2017).

A majority of the articles focuses on the analysis of consumer behaviour (24 articles or 77.4 per cent). Only two articles analyse issues related to marketing strategies (Iyer et al., 2014; Malshe et al., 2012). Five articles research various aspects of workplace relations and ethical behaviour (Oumlil and Balloun, 2017; Al-Wugayan, 2017; Wahab et al., 2016; Goby and Nickerson, 2016; Abdelhadi et al., 2014). A more detailed look at the topics researched in the articles yields the following results. Ten of the articles analyse various purchase actions by consumers, including boycotts of certain brands and products. Six articles discuss diverse aspects of tourism and leisure activities, and five other articles focus on workplace relations and values. Other topics include business and finance (3 articles), halal choices and the food industry (3 articles), issues related to identity (2 articles), religions organisations (1 article) and social media (1 article).

As far as the methods of analysis are concerned, all but one qualitative study analyse the data received through in-depth (primarily face-to-face) interviews. The only qualitative study that uses a different method is the study of social media, which focuses on the qualitative content analysis of online reviews (Kamarulzaman et al., 2015). Two qualitative studies (Summers et al., 2018; Jamal and Shukor, 2014) combine in-depth interviews with focus groups. Quantitative studies in our analysis mainly apply factor analysis (7), structural equation modeling (SEM) (8) and multivariate analysis (8). Several articles combine factor and multivariate analysis (Jamal and Sharifuddin, 2015; Cleveland et al., 2013; Farah and Newman, 2010) or factor analysis and SEM (Abosad and Farah, 2014). As mentioned earlier, four articles apply mixed methods of analysis.

There is a great variety of concepts and theories used in the analysed articles, with a number of concepts appearing more often than others. They include the theory of reasoned action, the theory of planned behaviour, social responsibility theory and acculturation. In terms of independent variables, religiosity, its attributes and related elements are studied in 23 articles. A number of articles look at other social and cultural factors, animosity, ethnocentrism, values and norms. Effects of these variables are studied primarily on consumer behaviour, brand image, brand loyalty and identity. The findings of the articles can be roughly grouped into four broad categories: the impact of religiosity (with the subcategories of halal products and religious animosity); differences and similarities between Muslims and other religious groups; heterogeneity and originality of consumer choices; and multidimensionality of consumer behaviour of Muslims in non-Muslim societies.

From the analysed articles, it becomes clear that religiosity affects various spheres of life, work and daily activities of Muslim consumers and Islamic businesses alike. Religiosity is found to impact the ethical beliefs and behaviour of consumers (Schneider et al., 2011), consumers’ choice of indemnity services (Siala, 2013), the tourism experience (Taheri, 2016; Kim et al., 2014), the form and place of fitness exercises for Muslim women (Summers et al., 2018) and decisions about certain taboo products (Muhamad and Mizerski, 2013). Likewise, research into business affairs and religiosity, albeit not numerous, reveals strong connection between various aspects of business activities and religiosity. The findings by Oumlil and Balloun (2017) demonstrate a strong positive relationship between the religiosity of business executives and the degree of their idealism. Wahab et al. (2016) explain the role of religiosity in the work values construct. Furthermore, two works corroborate connections between religiosity and corporate social responsibility (Al-Wugayan, 2017; Goby and Nickerson, 2016). At the same time, in their comparative analysis of holiday consumption by Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, Hirschman et al. (2011) argue about a symbiotic relationship between religion and the marketplace. According to the authors, such a relationship is visible in the immigrant communities where religious beliefs affect the adoption or rejection of the products and services of the host country while simultaneously supporting the establishment of a niche market for religious items linked to their original homeland.

The effects of religiosity on consumer behaviour seem to be even stronger in the case of halal products. Butt et al. (2017) identify the strength of an individual’s religious identity as a strong predictor of consumer halal choice. Likewise, Jamal and Sharifuddin (2015) list religiosity among factors that are associated with the perceived value and perceived usefulness of halal labelling. Other research demonstrates, however, that the issue of halal products can potentially provoke ambiguous attitudes among non-Muslims. Research by Wilkins et al. (2017) concludes that although many non-Muslims do not raise any issues related to the consumption of halal food, some of them may react negatively if they are not informed in advance that they are about to consume halal food. They perceive it as withholding information or even deliberate deception. In their analysis of halal food endorsements by Christians in Austria, Schlegelmilch et al. (2016) discuss the role of animosity between in-groups and out-groups, potentially negative reactions towards Halal food endorsements, and the subsequent rejection and disapproval of such food products.

Overall, religious animosity is examined in relation to the boycotting of certain products and brands and its potential impact on a company’s profits, brand image and consumer loyalty. In their comparative study of Lebanese Muslims and Christians, Abosad and Farah (2014) conclude that this type of animosity is more common among Muslims and tends to have more stable and longer-term impacts on consumer behaviour. In another comparative study, Farah and Newman (2010) conclude that Muslims are more prone to participate in boycotts. Likewise, animosity, alongside religiosity and ethnocentrism, plays a decisive role in the purchase decisions of Malaysian consumers concerning US products (Ahmed et al., 2013).

Comparative studies emphasise differences between Muslims and other religious groups. In addition to the studies mentioned above, Cleveland et al. (2013) examine the differential effects of globalisation on Lebanese Muslims and Christians, noticing a negative relationship between cultural globalisation and ethnic identity for the Muslim segment of the population. Analysis of the interplay between religion, acculturation and consumption among Indians living in the UK has led Lindridge (2010) to the conclusion that while religion has little influence on consumption among Hindu and Sikh participants, Muslim participants consume products that affirm their Muslim and British identity but somehow reject their Indian cultural identity.

Although religiosity has been shown to have a clearly dominant effect on consumer behaviour, the interpretation of religious norms and prescriptions among consumers is not totally rigid. A number of publications offer insights into the diversification, adjustment and gradation of consumer behaviour. An original examination of aberrant consumer behaviour in Libya concludes that shop sellers use alternative approaches to manage such behaviour and have a more nuanced understanding of what should be perceived as trespass of the accepted norms (Abdelhadi et al., 2014). In a similar way, Muhamad and Mizerski (2013) observe that although consumers tend to follow Islamic teachings in their decisions about whether to smoke or listen to controversial popular music, their decisions about whether to buy Coca-Cola seem to be less affected by their religiosity. Equally interesting are the insights into how Muslim women find ways to reconcile religious demands and fashion. In her analysis of Muslim women’s consumer behaviour, Al-Mutawa (2013) deduces that Muslim female consumers generate “modestly sexy” representations that recreate the meaning of Western luxury fashion brands.

In more general terms, comparative studies, while acknowledging a number of systematic differences between Muslim consumers and other religious denominations, have not found evidence of their absolute marginalisation (Dey et al., 2017). Rather, there is a tendency of personal evaluation of the costs and benefits. Khan et al. (2018) call it “acculturation trade-offs”. In their analysis of British Asian Muslims’ engagement with Christmas celebrations, these researchers conclude that rejection, compromise or submersion into the behaviour of others is a personal choice. From a slightly different angle and based on their previous work, Muhamad et al. (2012) suggest distinguishing between four segments of consumers typified by religious conviction, religious conviction and economic rationality, ethical observance and economic rationality, where the first group is strongly guided by religious dictates and the last group is indifferent to them.

Finally, a number of articles that examine Muslim consumers’ behaviour in Western societies emphasise a range of challenges faced by Muslim consumers in non-Muslim contexts. In their analysis, Kamarulzaman et al. (2015) reflect on a number of obstacles to finding and verifying halal food sources and the important role of social media in overcoming these obstacles. Likewise, the assessment of fitness options for Muslim women in Australia stresses a potential dilemma between motivation to engage in exercise and unwillingness to compromise their religious observance (Summers et al., 2018). Additionally, Jamal and Shukor (2014) demonstrate the complexity of the interplay between interpersonal influences and acculturation concerning self-congruity, clothing conformity, the need for uniqueness and modesty among young British Muslims. Finally, Carvalho et al. (2018) point to the emotional complexity of Muslim immigrants’ reactions to being witnessed transgressing their group values.

5. Conclusions

The objective of this study was to bring together and systematise the articles on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour published in the leading international marketing journals between 2010 and 2018. To the best of our knowledge, it is only the second attempt undertaken in the field of Islamic marketing to systematise existing empirical research and to highlight the difficulty in integrating the cultural element: the notion and role of religion, specifically Islamic consumer behaviour impacting marketing. Our analysis of recent publications in leading marketing journals confirms the importance of religion as a leading factor in Islamic consumer behaviour. However, in the leading journals, the visibility of the topics related to Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour remains weak. The current SLR has revealed that the articles published in the leading marketing journals have a clear focus on the receiving side of the marketing chain, namely, consumers and their behaviour, rather than the supply side of marketing. In addition, there is no real uniformity across journals and databases when it comes to keyword searches such as halal services or Muslim consumers. On the other hand, the search for Muslim consumers may produce countless results, only a few of which will be directly related to the issue of Islamic marketing. This search confusion reflects and confirms, in our view, the lack of consensus on the terminology (for a discussion, see Yusof and Jusoh, 2014; Alserhan, 2015; Wilson and Liu, 2011). This also means that there is a strong need to conceptualise appropriate terminologies for more focused research in the future.

The SLR findings single out religiosity as a dominant independent variable, with strong effects across countries and demographic groups. Our analysis confirms the claim that a particular connection between Islamic marketing and religion defines its specificity (Melewar and Alwi, 2018) and that religion can be regarded as a common descriptor of consumer behaviour (Sandikci, 2011). Taking into account the findings of comparative studies in our sample, it is also possible to agree that principles and rituals of Islam influence consumer behaviour deeply and differently from other religions (Nestorovic, 2016, p. 8; Zakaria and Abdul-Talib, 2010; Butt et al., 2017). Therefore, it can be concluded that much consumer behaviour has to do with Islamic beliefs and practices.

In terms of policy implications, Muslim consumers face a number of challenges and choices that are practically unknown or unimportant for Muslim consumers in their countries of origin. These challenges are related to the necessity to find a balance between acculturation and cultural tradition; ethnic or religious in-group and a number of out-groups; personal choices and in-group conformity. Challenges of navigation between different aspects of complex identity become particularly acute for Muslim consumers who live in Western, predominantly secular societies. The findings here point towards considerable challenges Muslim consumers face in Western societies when they try to pursue lifestyles that are congruent with their country of residence and their religious beliefs and practices.

Finally, the articles in the sample clearly demonstrate that the Muslim consumer segment cannot be approached as a homogeneous entity. Studies point to a number of systematic differences between home and host countries and, sometimes, even within a country (e.g. Lebanon), as well as between groups with various degrees of religiosity. For Cleveland et al. (2013), this raises doubts concerning the appropriateness of using countries as the primary basis for international market segmentation. Likewise, Lindridge (2010) suggests companies segment their markets by non-demographic means.

5.1 Theoretical implications

Findings of the studies analysed in the current review signal a number of theoretical implications for further development of the field. Firstly, this refers to the conceptual integration of religion into the analysis of consumer behaviour. Muhamad and Mizerski (2010) point to a certain paradox in marketing studies: although religion has been recognised as an important cultural element in consumer behaviour, empirical analysis of its potential influences has been perceived as a taboo subject. Such an approach among researchers needs to be adjusted if we want to understand the specificity and dynamics of Islamic marketing. It is important to pursue a thorough investigation into the effects of religion taken independently and in its interactions with other factors. Likewise, a differentiated approach to different groups of Muslim consumers will require further development and testing of various typologies and classifications.

According to the IMF (2015), the 57 member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation which had a majority of Muslim population had a total GDP of $17tn, and this is set to grow by an average of 4.19 per cent by 2021 against the world GDP (Thomson Reuters, 2016).

As mentioned earlier, it has been found in this study that the number of publications with a direct focus on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour was only 31 in the ABDC-ranked A and A* journals published between 2010 and 2018, of which the Journal of Business Research alone published 10 articles. Having considered this in the future, the chief editors of these high-ranked journals should accommodate more articles based on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. In addition, special issues of these high-ranked journals could be published. Otherwise, there is a possibility that they will lose a good percentage of their readership. It is also important to take into account that the term Islamic marketing should be uniformly used across these journals to eliminate the search confusion.

In many instances, ABDC-ranked A and A* journals have a higher readership and higher-impact factors than other journals, so researchers and audience of JIMA who are interested in publishing in the domain of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour could avail this opportunity to publish with them. Moreover, based on the findings of this research, future researchers should also use the terminology Islamic marketing to ensure that readers are not confused.

It is strongly believed that the findings of this study would further encourage researchers and the audience of JIMA to publish with other higher-ranked journals on Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour. We have deliberately chosen JIMA for this study because, as we know, there is a prejudice among researchers, including the audience of JIMA, that top-ranked journals do not publish Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour-related studies, Therefore, the findings of this study have addressed this notion to encourage researchers in the Islamic marketing domain to publish in the top-ranked journals as well as in JIMA.

Apart from the readership of JIMA, this study would also benefit the readers and researchers of high-ranking journals such as ABDC, ISI and Scimago. Muslim and non-Muslim readers and researchers will have a better understanding of the distinction between the terms Muslim, Islamic, and halal, which are often used interchangeably. This is one of the main challenges in this domain identified in the high-ranked ABDC journals, as well as in JIMA.

To have a decent stocktake of publications in Islamic marketing and for the discipline to progress further, this SLR has assembled relevant Islamic marketing publications from the high-ranking ABDC journals, which will definitely help future researchers to publish more impactful studies in this domain. Especially researchers and readers of international mainstream marketing journals will find this study useful as the publications in these journals remain deficient.

5.2 Practical implications for businesses

A symbiotic relationship between religion and the marketplace (Hirschman et al., 2011) should not be overlooked by companies seeking access to Muslim consumers. There are some potential long-term benefits for businesses that are able to identify particular religious segments, as religiosity tends to exhibit long-term effects (Siala, 2013). For similar reasons, Kim et al. (2014) advise destination marketers to be aware of the tendency among Muslim tourists to seek Islamic cultural elements when choosing overseas destinations. The specificity of the Islamic market in general and halal market in particular is that they offer religiously acceptable products and services. Companies that want to succeed need to make sure that their marketing strategies are aligned with Islamic values, standards and guidelines (Alserhan, 2015; Nestorovic, 2016; Abdullah et al., 2015).

6. Limitations

This study has some limitations. Firstly, it includes only a number of high-ranked (A* and A in the ABDC list) marketing journals. Another limitation is that this study took into account only peer-reviewed articles written in English. Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour have already attracted global attention; therefore, studies done in other languages could have added further insights. Future research could focus on studies written in other languages.

6.1 Future directions

It is advisable to include more works, perhaps including studies done in other non-marketing disciplines, to provide a more comprehensive picture. Our choice of journals was driven by the inclination to assess the international academic visibility of the given topic. For future researchers, it would be logical to conduct an SLR of the two journals JIMA and IJIMB.

An investigation into the heterogeneity of Muslim consumer groups seems to be a viable direction for future research. Potentially, a third category of Muslim consumers could be added to the cultural-geographic typology (Muslims in home countries vs Muslims in host countries). It would include Muslims in religiously mixed societies or more secular Arab countries. A number of articles in our sample present consistent differences between Muslim and non-Muslim consumers in such countries. The limited current scope of research, however, prevents the possibility of making far-reaching comparisons between this category of Muslim consumers and Muslim consumers in either host or home countries.

It is acknowledged that the findings of this study largely support the insights of previous researchers who have already published in the Islamic marketing domain in many other journals, including JIMA. In addition, to achieve consensus on what the term Islamic marketing means for consumers, future researchers would benefit from this study, along with the many other studies published in this domain in the past, especially the studies published in JIMA.

Finally, this SLR has managed to provide a solid platform for future researchers who are interested in Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour by addressing ambiguity, one of the key challenges in the regular Islamic marketing-related terminology.


Annual distribution of articles (totals for the leading journals, 2010-2018)

Figure 1.

Annual distribution of articles (totals for the leading journals, 2010-2018)

Selection process

Selection stage Selection criteria
Choice of journals A and A* ranked “marketing” and “consumer behaviour” related journals (28 in total)
Search option Websites of the individual journals
Keywords Islamic, Muslim, halal and marketing or consumer
Period 2010-2018
Article pre-selection Omitting editorials, commentaries, book reviews, conference announcements, etc.
Search for relevance Title and abstract for each article
Scanning the entire article if unclear
Final selection Only empirical articles with a clear prime focus on “Islamic marketing” and “consumer behaviour”

Source: Authors’ research

Number of articles selected on the subject of Islamic marketing and consumer behaviour

Journal Before 2010 2010-2018 Total
European Journal of Marketing 14 5 19
Industrial Marketing Management 1 2 3
International Journal of Research in Marketing 0 0 0
International Marketing Review 13 8 21
Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 6 7 13
Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management 1 4 5
Journal of Interactive Marketing 0 0 0
Journal of International Marketing 4 0 4
Journal of Macromarketing 3 12 15
Journal of Marketing 0 0 0
Journal of Marketing Management 6 11 17
Journal of Marketing Research 0 0 0
Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 1 1 2
Journal of Services Marketing 5 6 11
Journal of Strategic Marketing 0 3 3
Journal of Academy of Marketing Science 0 1 1
Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing 11 16 27
Journal of Vacation Marketing 1 8 9
Marketing Letters 0 0 0
Marketing Science 0 0 0
Marketing Theory 1 11 12
Psychology and Marketing 1 2 3
Journal of Consumer Research 3 4 7
Journal of Consumer Psychology 0 0 0
Journal of Advertising 1 0 1
International Journal of Advertising 9 0 9
Journal of Business Research 10 23 33
Journal of Business Ethics 5 5 10
Total 96 129 225

Source: Authors’ research

Number of articles selected for SLR analysis

Journal No. of articles
European Journal of Marketing 2
International Marketing Review 2
Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 1
Journal of Macromarketing 1
Journal of Marketing Management 3
Journal of Services Marketing 4
Journal of Strategic Marketing 1
Journal of Academy of Marketing Science 1
Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing 1
Journal of Vacation Marketing 1
Psychology and Marketing 2
Journal of Business Research 10
Journal of Business Ethics 2
Total 31

Source: Authors’ research

Overview of the analysed articles

Parameters No. of articles
 Quantitative 19
 Qualitative 12
Comparative analysis 12
Country where data were collected
Australia 1
Austria 1
Canada 2
Germany 1
India 1
Israel 1
Iran 1
Kuwait 2
Lebanon 3
Libya 1
Malaysia 6
Morocco 1
Pakistan 1
Spain 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Turkey 2
UK 7
Consumers 22
Managers 4
Others 5
Sample size:
≤100 10
100-499 13
≥500 8
Research area
Consumer behaviour 24
Marketing 2
Ethics 5
Specific topics
Business and finance 3
Work relations and values 5
Purchase actions 10
Halal choices and food industry 3
Tourism and leisure activities 6
Identity 2
Religious organisations 1
Social media 1
Methods of analysis
Analysis of in-depth interviews 16
Focus groups 3
Multivariate analysis 6
Factor analysis 7
Other 5

Source: Authors’ research


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Further reading

Baumeister, R. (2013), “Writing a literature review”, in Prinstein, M. and Patterson, M. (Eds), The Portable Mentor: Expert Guide to a Successful Career in Psychology, Springer Science, Business Media, New York, NY, pp. 119-132.

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Corresponding author

Jessen Floren can be contacted at: