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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Interview with Tanya Dernaika
Article Type: Interview From: Journal of Islamic Marketing, Volume 1, Issue 3
Memac Ogilvy & Mather, Ogilvy Noor
About Ogilvy Noor
Ogilvy Noor is a multidisciplinary global Islamic branding practice that aims to help brands better engage with Muslim consumers worldwide. The aim is to offer practical, tried and tested advice, to businesses, on building strong brands that genuinely empathise with and appeal to Muslim consumers across the globe today.
Choice of name, location, and staff
The Arabic word “noor” means light, and encapsulates our aim to illuminate the world of the Muslim consumer. Whilst there is much interest currently in the Muslim market, there is also much misunderstanding and stereotyping surrounding the Muslim consumer.
Ogilvy Noor consists of a team of multidisciplinary branding specialists who are deeply knowledgeable of Muslim markets and consumers, operating through hubs across Asia, Middle East and Europe. The core team are John Goodman, President of Ogilvy Action Asia Pacific and President of Ogilvy & Mather South and Southeast Asia, Nazia Hussain, Director of Cultural Strategy for Ogilvy & Mather globally, Tanya Dernaika, Strategic Planning Director for Memac Ogilvy Middle East and Zayn Khan, Regional Business Strategy Director for South and Southeast Asia. This core team is supported by a wide network of communications specialists, across all the Muslim markets in which Ogilvy operates. Ogilvy has 450 offices in 171 markets.
Why Ogilvy Noor? How is it different from other marketing and branding consultancies?
Ogilvy Noor is the first consultancy to specialize in Islamic branding. Global marketers, in recent years, have become enthusiastic over the size of the Muslim market and the opportunity it represents, but what they were lacking is informed and expert advice on how best to engage the Muslim consumer effectively. The team of experts at Ogilvy Noor will draw from their significant branding expertise and deep Muslim consumer knowledge, to help marketers and brand owners approach this market knowledgeably, sensitively, and profitably for the longterm.
The recommendations that Ogilvy Noor develops for its clients are based on rigorous data and knowledge. In fact, the first step in launching Ogilvy Noor was the publication of a pioneering study, in partnership with TNS, a global research company. The publication is entitled “Brands, Islam and the New Muslim consumer” and the main aim of this study was to gather data and answer questions relating to the influence of Shariah values on Muslim consumer habits. What is groundbreaking about this report is that the findings debunk so many of the myths surrounding the Muslim consumer, and the analysis charts a successful path through the confusion that still surrounds marketing to Muslims. It is the first instructive and practical guide for any brand aiming to appeal to the Muslim consumer today. The robust dataset compiled through research, can be tailored to businesses’ specific category usage.
What is expected of Ogilvy Noor to accomplish?
The aim is to provide helpful advice, consultancy and insights to help bring brand owners closer to Muslim consumers in the long term, and strengthen consumer engagement and loyalty.
How does Ogilvy Noor define Islamic marketing and branding. What does it mean to you?
At Ogilvy Noor we believe that Islamic branding is not restricted to Islamic brands. The principles of good Islamic branding practice, as we define them, are good practice for all businesses the world over. For this reason we define Islamic branding as branding that is empathetic to Shariah values in order to appeal to the Muslim consumer. This ranges from basic Shariah “friendliness” to full Shariah compliance in all aspects of the brand’s identity, behaviour and communications.
Which would you consider the advantages of pursuing Islamic Marketing and branding?
Islamic Branding is one of the next big global growth opportunities – the halal market alone is worth USD 2.1tln annually. Understanding the principles of Islamic branding will give brand owners and businesses a future-facing edge in a market of 1.8 billion people. Moreover, over 52 per cent of the population in Muslim majority countries are under 24 years old, and this new generation of Muslims are the ones who will have significant influence in shaping the future of brands. Applying the fundamentals of good Islamic branding practice will help drive brand relevance and loyalty amongst Muslim consumers globally today and in the long term.
What are the main challenges associated with pursuing Islamic marketing and branding?
There are more dangers in not understanding the values and needs of Muslim consumers, than there are challenges in pursuing Islamic Marketing. The needs of the consumer are influenced by core Shariah values – values such as honesty, accountability, community, peacefulness, respect and humility. Neglecting such needs, or not making the effort to engage with Muslim consumers in ways that resonate with them, could result in rejection of certain brands or the companies that own them. The danger also exists in approaching the Muslim consumer in an insensitive or stereotypical manner due to lack of knowledge, understanding or empathy. In some cases, marketers who have misunderstood the Muslim market have inadvertently offended their consumers, and their businesses have suffered as a consequence.
The findings of our study revealed that there is a new generation of Muslim consumers today, who are very proud of their religious identity. This young consumer is enlightened, brand and marketing savvy and they enjoy significant influence over their community and peer groups. Muslim society is collective in nature, and people tend to look to each for advice and recommendations and be heavily influenced by another. Brands that have made the effort to positively engage with the Muslim consumer in empathetic, creative and significant ways have been rewarded with both positive word of mouth and consumer loyalty. Brands that have in some ways disappointed the consumer, or have suffered from a tarnished reputation within the Muslim community, have lost customers as a result of negative word of mouth. These are some of the reasons why the pursuit of the Muslim consumer must be undertaken with knowledge, sensitivity and care.
Is it relevant to you if competitors pursue Islamic marketing and branding? If yes, why? If no, why not?
As long as competitors focus on Islamic marketing and branding with the right degree of empathy, depth and rigor, the better it is for all experts working in this field. With more knowledge, there will be better awareness, more sophistication in the field and, hopefully the market will evolve to the benefit of the Muslim consumer. As more brand owners realize the need for such expertise, opportunities will open up for exciting solutions that multidisciplinary experts like Ogilvy Noor have the knowledge and experience to provide.
The company operates in many Islamic countries, how does it approach potential Muslim clients?
All clients interested in engaging at a more inspiring and effective level with Muslim consumers will be approached in the same way. Ogilvy Noor is equipped to help global marketers seeking greater relevance in Muslim markets, or entering it for the first time, as well as existing Regional Islamic marketers either seeking to understand their current customer base at a deeper level, or looking to expand their horizon globally. Ogilvy Noor experts will help clients assess their business needs and provide data, consultancy and develop tailor-made solutions to help them fulfill their specific needs and objectives.
Once potential Muslim clients become actual clients, how does the company retain them?
As long as clients feel they are receiving good, well informed advice and enjoy good performance results, they are likely to continue to enjoy a long-term relationship with their brand building partners.
What is the difference between dealing with Muslim consumers and other consumers?
Muslim consumers’ consumption habits are directly affected by their faith. In the 2001-2007 Gallup World Poll of over 35 Muslim countries, the number one response from over 90,000 Muslims, when asked what they admired most about the Islamic word, was “people’s sincerest adherence to Islam”. It is this sincerity of adherence that affects the way Muslims live and consume products and services. Our research has revealed the extent to which religion plays an even more significant role in affecting the lives and brand choices of the new generation of young Muslim consumers. 62 per cent of the respondents we interviewed, for example, agreed with the statement: “I am proud to be a Muslim”. This high proportion reflects that that the new generation of Muslim consumers is proud to be a Muslim first and foremost. This sense of pride, the research finds, is driven by a desire for inclusion. Rather than distance themselves from religion in order to progress and succeed, 38 per cent of these consumers say that Islam is what “gives life purpose and direction”. A total of 45 per cent of this new generation believe that “religion should be adapted to suit individual lifestyles” – but crucially, they are finding their own ways of doing so, with 27 per cent agreeing that “protecting Islamic values from western lifestyle and media influence” is important to them. The implications for brands and the companies that own these brands, therefore, is that, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim consumer, they must be seen to be acting and presenting themselves, their products and services in a manner that is in line with the fundamental principles of the consumer.
What is the company’s marketing strategy to Muslim consumers? In its marketing campaigns to Muslim consumers, does the company take into consideration the peculiarities of the Muslim markets?
This is indeed the point of a practice like Ogilvy Noor. Our objective is to help brand owners examine every aspect of their business practices, offering and communications, and recommend opportunities to demonstrate true empathy with Muslim consumers.
Some of the company’s clients are Shariah compliant and some are not, how does the company accommodate the special needs of those clients?
The aim of Ogilvy Noor is to help, among others, clients that are already Shariah compliant to communicate their existing brand values more effectively to consumers, in order to strengthen the consumer brand relationship and ensure long-term loyalty. Brand owners who are not Shariah compliant, but approach Ogilvy Noor because of a genuine willingness to get closer to the Muslim consumer, will be provided with advice on how to become more Shariah compliant and will be provided with the key building blocks of Shariah compliance in practice, offering, service and all aspects of communication.
The company recently published a major report about Islamic Branding, could you elaborate on its anticipated impact on branding to Muslims
Ogilvy Noor’s key objectives in publishing the study “Brands, Islam and the New Muslim consumer” is to illuminate and inspire companies and brands on the world of the Muslim consumer. By debunking myths and false stereotypes, and providing readers with rigorous facts, case studies and a practical tool-kit on all aspects of Shariah-friendly brand communication, we hope to shift perceptions and help brand owners feel empowered and confident enough to approach Muslim consumers, with less apprehension and more empathy and creativity. The result? Hopefully deeper, mutually rewarding and long-term relationships between companies and their consumers, because such relationships would be based on understanding and trust.
Interview with Tanya Dernaika (Strategic Planning Director, Memac Ogilvy & Mather, Dubai)