In nations like the United States where Latinos now make up the largest minority group, watch groups like WhyIslam.org are reporting that Latinos are "one of the fastest growing segments" of the Muslim community. Increases in Latinos converting to Islam can be seen in other predominantly Christian countries as well like the Canada, UK, France, and Sweden. Yet even this trend can be seen in Latin nations all over the world. Some of these Latin nations including Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina are witnessing extremely increased Muslim conversion rates. In one sense, this heightened plain of diversity has been not gone unforeseen, but many international companies and organizations may yet be unprepared for the impact that this group has on business and marketing. Tweaking a companies standards and intended audience may be necessary, as the a good portion of the world converts to a new belief system.
Most Hispanic people, according to the BBC, who have chosen to embrace the Muslim religion grew up in the Catholic faith. At first these conversions were seen as preposterous, but now as more and more Latinos convert the Muslim religion has become widely accepted by the Latino community. One reason behind this growing trend could be related to the fact that Latinos are discovering historical and cultural ties to Islam There appears to be an overt connection for many converts between their culture and many Muslim practices and beliefs. Historians point out, of course, that this increase is not the first time Islam has won converts among the people of Latin cultures. They point out the Iberian Peninsula and its deep ties to Moorish culture and present-day Muslim customs. While many converts face some prejudice, especially in light of the upheaval the Muslim world is facing in the Middle East and in the West, their growing numbers suggest that this is a group that now has and will continue to have significance for businesses and marketers worldwide. These businesses simply cannot ignore the shift in beliefs and morals of their customers.
Embracing diversity is nothing new for the marketing industry, but it is imperative for marketers to be on the constant lookout for the emergence of new groups and the influential nuances they present for business. In some ways, the rise of Muslim Latinos simply echoes the need and the drive to embrace more personalized marketing strategies. Moreover, in the case of Muslim Latinos, it's essential for Western companies—both large and small—to have something to market to this growing demographic. For example, both McDonald's and Wal-Mart have included halal (Islamic-approved goods) to be included on their menus and in their stores respectively (in areas where significant numbers of Islamic people live), which indicates that there are growing markets for Western businesses to tap at home and abroad. Since such big name corporations have made the first step in catering to a new and influential demographic it is only to be expected that numerous corporations will soon start to follow suit.
Businesses that have begun to notice increases in Muslim Latino customers or clients have an opportunity to make significant inroads with this group as it continues to grow, and even prepare themselves for future cultural mixups. Yet rather than run to create new marketing campaigns or to adopt new products and services, now is the time to collect data and ask more questions to better understand these type of emerging niche audiences. Muslims follow a basic set of principle on which they live their everyday life. Understanding and being sympathetic to these principles can very well be the key to a successful business future. In short, marketers should be analyzing this group to find out how they interact differently in business than other groups and what elements of the business message should be changed to address them and their developing influence.
Collecting and analyzing data about customers and potential customers is nothing new for marketers, but keeping Muslim Latinos on the radar is certainly a new focus for many businesses and marketing firms. In forming a better and complete understand of this new and rapidly growing religious group marketers will be able to formulate ideas for products and services that will sell in this ever growing sub population. How this will affect international business and marketers in the near future is still working itself out, but the savviest businesses will be keeping an eye on this niche group whose presence is already garnering notice and action from many big corporations. Chances are, you already have Muslim Latino customers and if you don't know, you probably should.
For more information on Latino Muslims, Fusion journalist Walter Thompson Hernandez has written a fantastic article on four young Muslim women and their journey into Islam and what it's like for them as regular Americans living in a currently hostile environment that is their home.