Time For Republicans To Embrace Muslims: They’re A New Market Segment
Maybe it will take the capitalist opportunities available because of the new commercial viability of Muslims to get Republicans to accept them as part of our culture. A conference in New Brunswick, NJ featured food company executives and market researchers talking about this niche market.
American Muslims seeking more acknowledgment in the marketplace argue that businesses have more to gain than lose by reaching out to the community.
“We are not saying, `Support us,'” said Faisal Masood, a graduate of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and management consultant. “But we want them to understand what our values are.”
There are signs the industry is stirring: Masood, a Wall Street executive who organized the gathering, had attracted only 200 or so attendees when he started the event last year. This year, he had to close registration at 400 to keep from going over capacity.
The worldwide market for Islamically permitted goods, called halal, has grown to more than half a billion dollars annually. Ritually slaughtered meat is a mainstay, but the halal industry is much broader, including foods and seasoning that omit alcohol, pork products and other forbidden ingredients, along with cosmetics, finance and clothing.
When companies recognize the viability of this market, it’s a good idea not to bash them if you believe in capitalism and consumerism.
Last year, Best Buy Inc. was inundated with calls, e-mails and letters complaining that the company was anti-American after acknowledging a Muslim holiday â€” “Eid al-Adha,” or the Feast of the Sacrifice â€” for the first time in a national advertisement. That year, Eid al-Adha fell around Thanksgiving, so the ad, a small bubble at the bottom of the page, appeared in the company’s Thanksgiving flier. Critics seized on the timing in their complaints.
“They used very abusive language,” said Nausheena Hussain, a marketing manager for Best Buy in Minnesota. “It was pretty sad.”
Best Buy executives stood by their decision. The company saw the holiday greeting as part of a larger goal of reaching consumers from different cultures. Soon, Muslims started calling to thank Best Buy and set up a Facebook page honoring the company, which continues to acknowledge Muslim holidays.Click here for reuse options!
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