Amidst all the gloom and doom of stubborn Covid-19, Brexit unboxing, and fiercely debated economic revival, British Muslim has a silver lining: Festival of Ramadan. The market too is gearing up for the high season…with some uncertainty though!
But Brands have a bit more to chew on besides the COVID-19 sentiment. This year, Brands cannot stay an outsider, or preachy, adapt boring messages or be sugary by relaying the same SHARE and GIVE campaigns. For the simple reason that these messages are, over the years, done-to-death. Such messages feel to a believer an outsiders’ take on Ramadan. Of course, Ramadan is indeed about Fasting. And sharing. It also means shopping, festivities, parties and get-togethers…like any other festival.
And it is vital for the brands to re-invent and empathize without being dramatic. Without being cliché. The feeling amongst Muslims is that brands are ignorant of their needs and how they feel. This ignorance results in surficial messages that deliver a lukewarm impact. Or on the other extreme try to shock and awe. Marketing and product teams feel very pleased with themselves for executing a diverse campaign or a high decibel brand impact.
There is so much brands can achieve by engaging with the ever-evolving British Muslim and create a lasting relationship. With that in mind, here are a few tips for the brands. Marketers need to heed this before they decide their next emotionally-charged marketing film over run by cute kids. C’mon, we all have seen this: angelic kids donating their pocket money/sweets to an unsuspecting benefactor as a gift of Eid! Haven’t we?
Muslims too have diversity – They come from many cultures, regions and backgrounds. There is little understanding, amongst the mainstream, of the nuances and varied practices, which is as unique as their regions and cultures. They are not one monolithic whole. It is short-sightedness or being lazy to believe that one single emotion binds them all. Hence single motivations and social triggers can cater to all.
The tag of Immigrants. Well, half of the 4.5 billion Muslims in the UK are under 30. There is more than a fair chance that they are second or even third-generation Brits. Why, in the name of God, do the brands continue to talk to the grand old dad or an Asian Aunty caricature as portrayed in some Hollywood film!
British Muslims’ evolved identity is now a mix of cultural identity brought from the country of origin and its naturalization in Great Britain. And, of course, the unifying and continuous thread is religious customs, beliefs, and traditions. So talk to them, not at them.
Here is a clue. Brands can look at Muslims as regular customers who buy the same things as everyone else (provided it is halal). Though the customer journey can be a bit different given their religious requirements. This is where brands can up their content game on social or in-store messaging. Fashion, food and feelings are a few starting points to research and work upon; as an annual plan. Not only for RAMADAN – the high season for a brand sell.
When there is no real blueprint on how to speak authentically to an audience, there is lots of room for error. The feeling amongst Muslim audiences that they continue to be un-catered for by mainstream marketing will keep bubbling.
It remains a state of play. This means there is no playbook for brands to go by. Perhaps, the secret remains in nurturing trust – a pre-requisite like any other dialogue and interaction.
Brand Humza Halal with its range of frozen foods is launching its campaign for Ramadan 2021. The central theme is ‘in it with you’ anyway Muslims decide to celebrate Ramadan this time. Austere or awesome, Humza is in it with you. This echoes the sentiment of what people in general are feeling now, all included. The campaign allows entire space one needs and sets no heady moral high grounds for the believer to follow.