Ogilvy Noor has become the world’s first Islamic branding consultancy after WPP, the advertising group led by Sir Martin Sorrell, launched the unit in a bid to unravel the motivation behind 1.8bn Muslim consumers.
The launch culminates a two year study by WPP into Muslim consumer habits and attitudes, the largest ever undertaken and attempts to "illiminate" (Noor being Arabic for light), the spending habits of the faithful.
This showed that Muslims consume differently from those of other religions and none with particular concepts such as “ummah”, the notion of a wider global Islamic religious community, holding great sway through its promotion of community over individualism.
A surprising Islamic champion which has cottoned on to this concept is Milo, a malt based chocolate drink manufactured by Nestle. A clever marketing campaign aimed at promoting nutritional benefits for children sees the brand sponsor school events in Malaysia, thus feeding into into a notion of the greater good.
Not all brands have succeeded in making inroads into the Islamic market however, financial firms in particular have come unstuck as sceptical consumers look beyond the Sharia compliant banking arms and ask probing questions of the head office functions.
This sees politically aware consumers not afraid to walk away from companies seen to support Israel or who invest profits in controversial sectors.
Irfan Younis, Founding Director of Oceanic Consulting, the UK’s leading Ethnic consulting and promotions company, is currently working on Be Halal, Scotland’s first Islamic exhibition. He told The Drum: “There is increasing commercial awareness of the Islamic market in Britain. Firstly, Islamic countries are increasing their global exposure and a number of the World’s leading agencies have opened up in Islamic countries.
"Secondly, in the UK Islamic finance and banking have been around for a number of years and now other industries and service sectors are starting to catch on, and catch up, to what is proving to be a lucrative market for those who are knowledgeable and those willing to educate themselves in regards to the needs of the Islamic community."