Maybe other companies can learn a little something from this fiasco with Lowe’s
by Saad Malik
If you haven’t already heard, Lowe’s recently decided to pull their advertising from TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” a new reality show about American Muslims living in Dearborn, Michigan, due to backlash they received from a conservative Christian group called the Florida Family Association.
The result? A whole lot of pissed American Muslims.
Although I don’t watch the TV show or shop at Lowe’s, I thought I’d give you what I see as the 3 most important facts about the American Muslim consumer that should concern Lowe’s as a mainstream company.
Fact #1: There’s 7 million of us with a spending power of $200 billion
“Two-thirds of Muslim households make more than $50,000 a year and a quarter earn over $100,000. The national average is $42,000. Two-thirds of American Muslims have a college degree, compared with less than half of the general population.” – The Economist
Estimates of the American Muslim population vary from 5 million to 7 million, with Muslims active throughout society as entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, lawyers, educators, athletes, and musicians.
Studies from the past few years suggest American Muslim’s have an annual spending power of $124-$200 billion just in the U.S. alone. This is similar to the Hispanic market in the early 90s, which today is worth a whopping $1.2 trillion (a punch in the face for any company who ignored it then).
Fact #2: Our highest expenses are in housing & housing services
As I was going through the Executive Summary of DinarStandard’s recent study, “American Muslim Market 2011: Business Landscape & Consumer Needs Study,” I came across something that tickled my fancy.
According to DinarStandard, when consumers were asked, “How does your household budget breakdown?” the highest expense category was the housing and housing services market, estimated at $33 billion in 2010, followed by food and education.
I’m no expert, but that sounds like a scary number for a company who’s primary market sector falls under housing services.
Fact #3: We just need a little bit of empathy, man
Here’s the fact of the matter: Muslim consumers want to engage, but they feel ignored.
In September 2010, Ogilvy Noor conducted research into how American Muslims were feeling about brands and businesses that they interact with today. This study titled, “A little empathy goes a long way: How Brand can engage the American Muslim Consumer” reveals the following:
- 86% of American Muslim Consumers believe that American Companies “need to make more of an effort to understand Muslim values” but at exactly the same time they are feeling largely ignored by American brands.
- 98% feel that “American brands don’t actively reach out to Muslim consumers”.
Here’s where it gets real juicy:
“This despite these consumers showing the potential to be an extremely loyal customer base, with over 80% saying that they would prefer to buy brands that support Muslim identity through promotion and celebration of religious festivals, for example. And it’s not just that these are great consumers to have on your side — it’s also that they can be potentially vastly damaging to have against you. When faced with a brand that has offended Muslims, almost 99% of consumers said that they would stop using it, 65% doing so even if the available alternatives were not
as good. “
Lowe’s, if you’re reading this and want to know how you can earn back the loyalty you’ve lost in the past few days from American Muslims, here’s a break down by DinarStandard from the results of the 2011 American Muslim Consumer Advocacy Survey that should help you.
Lowe’s, it’s not easy to please everyone, we get it. But it’s time to get real. American Muslims are young, educated, and have a serious purchasing power which will only grow for the years to come. As Ogilvy Noor put it, a little bit of empathy goes a long way.
Until then, we know who’s going to get some serious street cred…
P.S. For those of you who don’t know, I’m one of the organizer’s of AMCC, an annual conference which focuses on understanding and marketing to American Muslim consumers. I encourage you to check out the website and reach out to the team if you’d like to learn more.