In the UK the media’s been full of stories and coverage about the Royal Wedding. One of the topics of discussion was on how Kate and Wills met. These all got me thinking about some recent discussions that I’ve observed, surrounding Muslims at university and matrimonial websites. Having looked at some more cultural websites, I’ve also found the importance of skin colour curious. Self-descriptions and drop down menu selections read like those from inside an interior design magazine, or pot of paint from a DIY store, like: butterscotch, and wheat.
Thoughts for this blog entry: Is it more pious to find your soulmate and spouse from behind the safety of a computer screen over the Internet, or for example in the lecture theatre?
Professional Muslims in developed countries, like everyone else, appear to be delaying marriage, whilst they establish themselves in careers. Cohabiting and relationships are popular in wider society – however for Muslims, they remain a taboo.
- is this a perfect market opportunity for online businesses looking to help Muslims get married
- is it a societal phenomenon which needs tackling through challenging the idea of delaying marriage
- are there other marketing perspectives?
Almost like in Logan’s Run, for online matrimonial websites, I’m sure there is an optimum age for males and females, where they become ‘attractive’, or past their sell-by date. If they are ‘interesting enough’: in that they have the degree, the job, they’ve passed the colour wheel chart for their skin colour – now the waiting game starts. Anecdotally, it would appear that in comparison to men, females suffer increased scrutiny and competition with regards age. Also amusingly, I remember a student of mine remarking that he wanted a wife who was ‘slightly’ less intelligent than him, so that she wouldn’t cause any problems (-_-)
The challenges for such websites, seem to be: whether you have enough ‘eye candy’ to attract other new consumers, and how cultural versus ‘Islamic’ do you make the website. My gut tells me that this market is a moving feast. At best, you can help people to meet and get married – but then you’ve lost your best customers! Also, there always seems to be a new website launch, promising amazing things. In comparison to other non-Muslim websites, where marriage is not the hallmark of success – instead, introducing you to potential girlfriends/boyfriends, which may lead to something, is. Therefore, the chances of repeat business and loyalty over a longer period are greater.
Furthermore, with numerous other social networking channels, perhaps for modest Muslims there are plenty of other more discrete and organic methods of finding a better half? Social and marital networking thrive on ideas of:
- Calibre of participants
- Reciprocity and kinship
- An oxygenated and steady flow of regular unique visitors
It appears to me that these are a big ask of any Muslim matrimonial service, but fairly attainable for other special interest websites.
So this brings me onto my second point: is the lecture theatre the hotspot? Can it be transformed into a two for the price of one deal: education + marital soulmate? Islamically, getting married sooner, rather than later is preferable. However, many would testify that their parents have been acculturated to the developed nations’ model – of holding out until their child accrues a form of personal brand equity.
I would argue that a marketer’s perspective concurs with Islam – in that early marriage amongst Muslims is preferable. This is because they refrain from engaging in relationships until marriage. So, if soon to be Muslim professionals get married earlier, then they also make themselves open to the consumption of a wider portfolio of consumables earlier. Therefore, Marketing opportunities surrounding existing non-marriage related activities potentially pose greater critical success factors than matrimonial websites. They can link individuals, through broad-based interests and data, which drive long-term loyalty. This is also not to mention on top of the assertion by Muslims, that half of their practice and understanding of Islam can be achieved through marriage. So anything that drives this, will in turn acquire favourable perceptions.
With these in mind:
- Parents are gatekeepers who need to be tackled
- A wider issue also appears to be societal norms, which are adding baggage to the perceptions and rituals of marriage that create barriers and delay people tying the knot
- Professional Muslims it could be argued are attempting to achieve social mobility, a by-product of which could be the delay of marriage, in the hope that a ‘better’ spouse is found. Furthermore, this suggests individuals are also embarking on a course of accruing a form of personal brand equity
Marketing initiated Remedies:
- Universities could be the ideal marketplaces for Muslim matrimonial events, looking to set the agenda for the most ambitious conspicuous and socially mobile Muslims. This reciprocally could yield benefits and loyalty traits directed towards the academic institution
- Imagine companies like Amazon suggesting your potential soul-mate, based upon collected search and purchase habits
- Or even perhaps supermarket loyalty card schemes could hold the key to valuable parental and child traits, which could be used to match families
(^_^) – how scary?!