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Selection of Islamic banking in a multicultural context: the role of gender and religion

Suzanna ElMassah (College of Business, Zayed University – Abu Dhabi Campus, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)
Heba Abou-El-Sood (College of Business, Zayed University – Abu Dhabi Campus, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Accounting Department, Faculty of Commerce, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 21 June 2021

Issue publication date: 30 November 2022




As the popularity of Islamic banking and financial instruments continues to rise globally, a recurring empirical question is what specifically makes consumers choose Islamic banking. This paper aims to investigate the determinants of bank type selection, especially in culturally diverse settings where the Islamic banking sector is well-established. It further examines whether consumers’ gender/religion influences their choices. One intuitive prediction is that Muslim consumers opt for Islamic banking products as “ethical” because of conviction-related reasons. However, the reality is not necessarily straightforward.


This paper uses structural equation modeling to examine data collected from a survey questionnaire of 790 respondents in an emerging market setting. Further analysis is made based on gender and religion to remove related bias.


Results suggest that overall consumer awareness significantly affects the selection of Islamic banking products. The positive effect of awareness is more significant for Muslim consumers relative to non-Muslims. Interestingly, social stimuli and bank attributes have an insignificant effect on the banking choices of both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Practical implications

Results suggest that Islamic banks’ marketing managers should adopt differentiated strategies for men and women, focusing on the core benefits of the service or personal interactions with consumers, respectively, along with a focus on different aspects of personal service for each gender. Awareness should be enhanced by adopting informative and effective marketing strategies to attract and retain consumers in the competitive bank environment. Islamic banks (IB) should pay attention to the religious effect without considering it as the sole variable motivating potential customers. They should design segmented and customized marketing strategies based on gender-religion market segmentation to suit different groups’ needs.


The findings fill a gap in the literature and provide Islamic bankers with insights to help design and articulate their business strategies to appeal to consumers in a multicultural context. Examining an integral part of gender and religion mitigates biased estimates due to the omission of variables. The study contributes to the existing literature on customer preferences for IB with a relatively large, new data set.



We thank Raghdaa Ali, journal editor and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


ElMassah, S. and Abou-El-Sood, H. (2022), "Selection of Islamic banking in a multicultural context: the role of gender and religion", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 11, pp. 2347-2377.



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