Tapping into the Muslim market

With the number of Muslims worldwide growing to more than one billion, marketers are clamouring to tap into this potentially lucrative market.

Professor Kim Fam, researcher and academic from the School of Marketing and International Business

Many of the wants and needs of Muslims differ from non-Muslims when purchasing products, a senior Victoria Business School academic has found.

Over the past few years, Professor Kim Fam from the School of Marketing and International Business has been researching aspects of marketing to Muslims, including Islamic finance.

"This is a huge market, worth more than one trillion dollars," says Professor Fam, who holds adjunct or visiting professor positions in more than 10 universities worldwide, and receives frequent invitations to share his knowledge abroad about marketing in Asia.

"My findings show that religion, culture and tradition are very important to Muslims in their purchase of financial products and services."

'Exploring a consumption value model for Islamic mobile banking adoption'

Professor Fam’s paper 'Exploring a consumption value model for Islamic mobile banking adoption', written with Dr Tiong Goh from the School of Information Management and Dr Norazah Suki from the University of Malaysia, was published in the Journal of Islamic Marketing last year and selected by the journal's editorial team as one of the top three highly commended papers of 2014.

"In this study we found that in general non-Muslims were most attracted to services that offered fast connections and not having to queue up to do their banking, whereas the selling point for Muslims was the add-on functions of a product, such as having technology that will tell them when it's time for prayer."

Packaging products to appeal to different generations

In another study one of Professor Fam's PhD students, Dr Farhana Newaz, analysed the uptake of Islamic financial products in Bangladesh and found that the needs of different generations varied, with risk-taking behaviour tending to decrease with age.

This shows the importance of packaging products to appeal to the various generations, says Professor Fam.

"It's also essential to know about Islamic attitudes towards money when marketing to them. For instance, Islamic religion says you cannot use money to make money, so banks have to devise ways of getting around that.

"Also, taking out insurance is not really sanctioned, because of the belief that God takes care of everything."

Professor Fam adds that the Islamic practice of zakat, a kind of religious tax based on income and value of possessions, means that many Muslims are well disposed to businesses that demonstrate corporate responsibility.

"So a business that offered a percentage of its profits to a Muslim orphanage, for instance, would undoubtedly increase the attractiveness of a product they were selling.

"From a big picture perspective, with New Zealand trying to reach more consumer markets it makes sense to look at the Islamic market in terms of religion and values and consider what add-ons can be offered to make our products more attractive."