Breaking cover: Copy, content and the Muslim consumer.

March 22, 2017

 

Nike's hjab, H&M's hijab-wearing model - the rise of the Muslim marketing.

 

I contemplated writing a post about this for some time. For one, there are many other comments about these diverse subject, each with equally valid opinions.

 

I’ve worked with some Muslim brands and organisations over the last few years and at the time, they were always seen as ‘niche’. That is, they cater for a specific section of society. However in the last few years, months even, we have seen a rise in mainstream brands catering for the Muslim market. The most obvious examples include H&M featuring a hijab-wearing model and Nike’s recent toe-dip in the water with the release of a sports hijab.

 

There are other examples too – Instagram is awash with Muslim models, hijab-wearing bloggers with promotions and modest clothing companies rising in media prominence. What is clear in all of these examples is that Muslims are being targeted as a legitimate consumer group with needs to address and money to spend.

 

And why not? After all, Muslims are just like any other people – we want to buy stuff! For the most part, we buy much the same stuff as any other people but there are some things (for example hijabs, modest clothing, halal cosmetics ) that we struggle to find within the mainstream market.

 

But do they really mean it? 

 

However there is an increasingly loud and rather distinct cry of “Tokenism!” being called from social media platforms and with real justification. When organisations which have previously ignored the Muslim consumer’s needs suddenly jump on to the bandwagon – *all at the same time* – it is easy to see how Muslims are simply ‘in fashion’ right now (pun intended).

 

For the hijab-wearing woman who wishes to purchase clothing from a reputable brand, this is a valid point to consider. A consumer who feels that they are simply being catered for as flavour-of-the-month will not translate to become a loyal, long-term customer. Sure, they will buy that hijab or maxi dress but ultimately these will be fleeting purchases. The business who wishes to capture the Muslim consumer as a repeat customer will have to work a little harder – and that is where the marketing needs to venture into a new field.

 

A business which wishes to cater to the Muslim community – whether it be with fashion or any other product – needs to include genuine, sincere content strategy in their campaign. They need to think of the Muslim consumer as not just another person with a wish to buy and a ready wallet but instead get to know them as they truly are. And this goes for Muslim-owned, specific brands as well as those such as Nike, H&M, etc.

 

Sincere content to keep customers content.

 

Content and marketing needs to include real feeling and ethos that supports the Muslim customer for what they believe in, what they represent, what they struggle with and what they celebrate. No longer is it enough to just say “Hey, we have this thing, we think you might like it” and watch the pounds roll in. Today’s customer is savvy, challenging and expects more. The internet may be the home of online shopping and digital marketing but it’s also the first, very public, port-of-call for the customer who is dissatisfied or disappointed in a brand’s actions or choices.  As Muslim identity becomes more and more a talking point, never before has this been a more important time for business and branding.

 

Taking time to consider the *individual* for who they are and what motivates them will ensure that you can develop a content strategy that secures long-term growth and a growing customer base. Muslims are a diverse bunch but we are also largely united by the fact that our purchasing choices are influenced by our beliefs.

 

Now let’s be honest here – what I am saying isn’t specific to Muslim branding, more it is something which should apply to all of your copy, whoever your audience. Speaking to your customer as a person, rather than as one large generic group, will always reap better business. Try imagining (or even meeting) your ideal customer and tailor your content and copy to them – trust me, it works.

If you are marketing to the Muslim consumer, know this: the choices that Muslims make for their fashion (and other products) are often rooted in deeply-held beliefs and personal ethics. So more than ever, insincere or out-of-place content will not work. Rather thinking about what truly matters to the Muslim customer – including that we don’t want to feel like a token marketing exercise – is more important than ever.

 

Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be. Just think a little less about making money and instead more about developing a relationship with your customer. Start with asking: Who is your customer? Get to know them genuinely and not just because you recognise a business opportunity.

 

If this has given you food for thought, you need help creating copy or advice about content strategy, just drop me a line today.

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