Today’s book review is based on Yuswohady’s “Marketing to the Middle Class Muslim” [Yuswohady, Madyani, D., Herdiansyah I. A. and Alim I. (2014): Marketing to the Middle Class Muslim, Jakarta: PT Gramedia]. Written in a mixture of bahasa Indonesia and English and about 280 pages long, this book is based on the author’s insights into segmenting the middle class Muslims, specifically in Indonesia.
Marketing Aiding in Halal Awareness?
I found the book’s approach insightful in 3 areas. Firstly, the book begins by exploring the different areas in which religious attitudes have changed due to certain marketing elements being infused in today’s context. These marketing elements have aided the usage of such products and services, specifically:
- Hijab: Rising appeal due to fashion statement than just religious obligation alone.
- Umrah: Rising appeal due to tourism factor than just a religious encouragement.
- Halal Food: Rising education via mass and social media to consumers on identifying halal food.
- Halal Cosmetics: Branding and celebrity endorsements.
- Syariah Hotels: Rising trend of customised hotels in Indonesia that give consideration to the total Muslim lifestyle.
While the above may increase usage, awareness on the Halal issues and real meanings behind the teachings may still be questionable on certain areas. For example, the Muslimah who puts on the hijab out of fashion may not really understand the underlying spirit of the hijab. Then there are the debatable issues of validity of the action itself, such as whether the Muslim who goes to Umrah with the intention of a holiday as supposed to a religious act may reap the reward of the Umrah itself. Here, further work to develop the areas may be necessary. For example, beyond usage, marketing must also be used to educate the consumer on the underlying meanings of these actions, within the framework of the shariah in which contextually he may be based in (some of these practices found in Indonesia may not be appropriate to that of other countries).
When Halal is More Important
Secondly, the book cites Ogilvy Noor‘s study into the importance of Halal and syariah compliance on the Muslim consumer. The study found that Muslim consumers may rank the importance of Halal in 3 tiers: the most important consideration set being that of food and oral in nature, second of fashion and wearables and third of places and financial instruments such as insurance and investments. Here, the view of importance may be correlated to awareness as well, because the halal food sector is an area more familiar to the Muslim market, whereas the other end of the spectrum, that being Halal finance instruments, investments and places, may not be as familiar, hence the relatively low importance attributed. A realisation of importance to a matter may only come after an awareness and understanding of the matter itself. Here of course much other research is helping to develop this field.
4 Types of Middle Class Muslims
The third insight I found interesting about the book is its attempt to segment the Middle Class Muslim into 4 categories, namely Apathists, Rationalists, Conformists and Universalists, along the axes of Functional / Emotional Value vs Spiritual Value. In a nutshell:
- Apathists are low in knowledge on both areas. Hence they may not care much about these issues.
- Rationalists are looking for greater product benefit and value, as they may not have much awareness on religious issues.
- Conformists are the opposite of Rationalists. They value the Islamic nature of the act, and do not really consider worldly factors if any.
- Universalists are the all rounder who view the Islamic spirit and actions as having both the worldly and spiritual benefits.
While this segmentation attempt is valuable and in line with other attempts in Muslim market segmentation by scholars such as Dr Paul Temporal in his book “Islamic Branding and Marketing”, the attempt above could have been better if the author had substantiated this framework with some statistical research and evidence. I suspect the 4 categories above are more conceptual in nature, and open the doors to further research.
I hope the above review gave you good insights. You can purchase this book in Jakarta Indonesia, or from online retailers such as Amazon. Share your thoughts in the comments section too.