Saturday, April 28, 2007

NYTimes: Rewriting the Ad Rules for Muslim-Americans

There was an interesting article in the New York Times Business section today.

Rewriting the Ad Rules for Muslim-Americans
By LOUISE STORY
Published: April 28, 2007

Here are some quotes from the article:

One aspect is not so much about marketing but about product development: "Grocers and consumer product companies are considering ways to adapt their goods to Muslim rules, which forbid among other things, gelatin and pig fat, which is often used in cosmetics and cleaning products.

Another important issue is the holidays: "...the study found that Muslims were buying many standard products but that they felt excluded from mainstream advertising. In particular, she said, they wanted companies to recognize their holidays."

An interesting dilemma is the multicultural nature of the Muslim population itself: "Just what approach companies should take to reach Muslims is far from clear. The market is diverse, including African-Americans, South Asians, Caucasians and people from the Middle East, as well as people who are more or less conservative in their religious views. American Muslims disagree about whether the Muslim women in ads should wear the hijab, for instance."

It's also about how stores do business and interact with their customers: "Ikea, which recently opened a store in the suburb of Canton, Mich., that has had trouble attracting as many Muslim customers as it had hoped, has been touring local homes and talking to Muslims to figure out their needs. The store there plans to sell decorations for Ramadan next fall and is adding halal meat to its restaurant menu, or meat that is prepared according to Islamic law. Catalogs in Arabic are being planned, and female Muslim employees are expected to be given an Ikea-branded hijab, to wear over their head if they wish."

My thoughts...: Given the pervasiveness of commercial media in our lives, it's not surprising that it will reach out into the sphere of religion... as in the Ikea-branded hijab! Well, in the spirit of religious literacy, it would be good for people to know about Muslim holidays, and to understand the different forms of hijab - so I guess an Ikea-branded style of hijab can be added to the range of Muslim fashions.

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