Restrictions for Marketing Activities in Islamic Countries
Islamic states offer a reasonable market for both local and international businesses since people professing the Islamic faith form about one-third of the world’s population (Hackett & Lipka, 2018). However, these countries are only friendly to businesses that are ready to follow their Sharia laws. Companies are to avoid selling prohibited products and services, which, according to the Quran, are considered unclean. Also, businesses should avoid using campaign materials that depict immorality (Foster, 2010). The International Islamic Marketing Association (IIMA) ensures that all marketing guidelines in the region comply with the prophet Mohammad’s teachings (Hackett & Lipka, 2018). It is difficult for an international company to operate in an Islamic state since such countries impose impossible religious demands on businesses, forcing the non-compliant ones to target alternative non-Islamic markets.
The Quran forbids people who profess the Islamic faith from buying or selling certain products. These, according to Sharia, include alcoholic drinks, pork, animal blood, and carrion (Hackett & Lipka, 2018). Industries affected by such regulations include tobacco, pornography, weapons, and alcoholic beverage manufacturers. According to Shafiq (2018), Sharia law also prohibits Gambling. These rules shield people who profess the Islamic faith from actions or habits that might negatively impact their lives. According to the Quran, God’s wrath awaits those who act contrary to these demands (Foster, 2010). Most people who profess the Islamic faith understand such consequences, which is why they choose not to engage in business activities that disregard their religious views. Thus, businesses might have to evaluate the nature of their products before launching them into the Islamic market. Companies that ignore such measures might suffer losses resulting from a lack of demand for their products.
Finding an appropriate product for the Islamic market is as important as a campaign process. Marketers should consider factors like packaging and ensure that they provide accurate information about their products. Also, they should desist from the use of provocative content in their marketing campaigns. Unlike non-Islamic countries, some Islamic states oppose the use of women in promotional materials. International brands have had to change their use of such content due to government restrictions and public outcries. For instance, IKEA had to eliminate a woman’s photo from their catalog after a protest by people living in Saudi Arabia (Foster, 2010). While some consider such compromises discriminatory, analysts believe that businesses have no other option but to comply to survive in such hostile and conservative environments (Shafiq, 2018). In these countries, organizations, especially multinationals, cannot use some highly effective marketing strategies commonly used in non-Islamic regions.
Islamic countries are strict on the use of resources. IIMA warns against the exploitation of people or wastage of products (Shafiq, 2018). Despite these restrictions, Islamic countries embrace many of the marketing strategies used in other nations. They encourage businesses to add an idea or moral to every marketing campaign. In other words, companies can stick to international marketing campaigns that allow them to use strategy, tactics, and measurement (Foster, 2010). They are to apply concepts within the context of the Sharia law. Regardless, international companies might still struggle with these foreign laws, especially if their organizational culture conflicts with the culture and demands of people who profess the Islamic faith.
Businesses have a hard time marketing their products in Islamic states as they have to do so within the contexts of religion. The prohibitions on specific industries mean that most businesses are unable to introduce their products to the region. Those whose products are accepted have to be prepared to abandon some of their highly effective marketing strategies for acceptable ones. However, such compromises might taint the image of a multinational company as some non-religious customers consider it a biased move. Organizations either have to conform to the Sharia law or risk closure. Sadly, many businesses might have to choose the later if they are to capitalize on the untapped market in Islamic states.