Bloomberg recently ran a piece with the title “The Harrods Hajj: London Braces for Ramadan Rush”.
They report that ‘As the holy month approaches, London’s luxury stores are seeing a spike in shoppers’.
Now crassly, some might class this as ‘selling sand to the Arabs’, but Harrods has enjoyed successes with selling high-end abayas (flowing cloak-like robes worn by Arab and Muslim females). This is not to say that there isn’t a demand for this product from home soil consumers, but Harrods has also been clear in identifying a segment of high-spending tourists from the Gulf region, who are looking to while away the Summer months in more temperate climes.
So, as silly as it may seem, I think it’s still worth mentioning that just as some people go on holiday and buy products like t-shirts as mementos (even when they can buy the same item locally): Muslims view cultural and religious products in the same way. And here lies the curiosity of global consumerism – consumers:
- Want local commodities that are available globally
- Want global commodities that are available locally
- May not want commodities local to their home, until they are elsewhere
- May not want commodities from elsewhere, until they are elsewhere
Which means that consumption is linked to a context, time and space, which is cultural and social. Therefore, there are clear indications that marketing to Muslims can and should occur in any territory. Furthermore, it would appear that if it’s done well, those Muslims that can afford it, are prepared to pay and spend more than other consumer segments.
Whilst other religions, such as Christianity, communicate the praiseworthiness of frugality, in Islam there appears to be a wider scope. Islam equally accommodates frugality and opulence – as their praiseworthiness is governed by the intention and means of the individual. So it could be argued by some that retail therapy is a celebration of wealth and appreciation of what has been allowed by their creator (Allah). Of course, many would balance such activities with increased worship, gift giving and charitable donations. All of which equates to spending more money, socialising more and remembering faith.
It’s no surprise then (yet again), that supermarkets have given me an early countdown message to Ramadan. So what’s next: iftar (people breaking their fast) in supermarkets and Ikea superstores, with free food samples at dedicated stands?
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