First survey of its kind, understanding U.K. Muslims' wants and needs

JWT, the fourth-largest advertising agency in the world, commissioned this first of its kind, wide-ranging study as part of a major initiative to understand the needs of Muslim consumers in the U.K. and beyond.

First survey of its kind, understanding U.K. Muslims' wants and needs
JWT, the fourth-largest advertising agency in the world, commissioned this first of its kind, wide-ranging study as part of a major initiative to understand the needs of Muslim consumers in the U.K. and beyond.

Living in a post-9/11 and post-7/7 world, Muslims perceive the media as being biased against them. In fact, almost two-thirds (65 percent) say the media is always biased (29 percent) or sometimes biased (36 percent) against Muslims, while less than a fifth of the general population sampled (16 percent) similarly perceive anti-Muslim bias in the media.

Life can certainly be difficult for Muslims in the U.K., especially in the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Muslim respondents and 56 percent of the general sample agreed that Muslims are often judged by events outside their control. About 80 percent of Muslim respondents said the actions of some extremists have made life more difficult for ordinary Muslims, and 72 percent feel there is a lot of prejudice against Muslims in the U.K.

"Despite these obvious problems, we've been struck by the upbeat responses of Muslims across a range of subjects," says Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of JWT Worldwide. "In addition to appreciating the efforts that authorities and businesses are making to connect with them, they have strong hope that negative stereotypes of Islam will one day evaporate."

While they are under greater public scrutiny, Muslims are not inclined to hide their faith. As many as 28 percent are more likely to wear symbols of their faith than they were five years ago, while 11 percent are less likely; well over half (57 percent) say this has not changed. The greatest change is among Muslim women (30 percent are more likely, 10 percent are less likely), reflecting the fact that they are standing up for their
right to decide for themselves whether to wear the hijab.

The survey also found that Muslims tend to view themselves as more different than the general population views them. More than half agreed (53 percent) and just 14 percent disagreed with the statement, "I have little in common with other religions." Among the general sample, 30 percent agreed and 39 percent disagreed with the statement, "Muslims have little in common with other religions." However, the notion that Islam will one day be accepted by Western society found agreement from 70 percent of Muslims but just 31 percent of the general sample.

Muslims were significantly less positive toward the media, with only about one-third (35 percent) rating major TV channels as genuinely respectful/courteous; however, this response was still more positive than that of the general sample (24 percent), and far fewer Muslims (20 percent) said the major TV channels lack respect or are deeply disrespectful. National newspapers fared worse, with just 33 percent of Muslims rating them as genuinely respectful/courteous and another 30 percent saying they lack
respect or are deeply disrespectful (this compares with 21 percent vs. 16 percent from the general sample).

"The real issue for the U.K. is not Islam but religious faith itself," notes Ann Mack, JWT's director of trendspotting. "The U.K. is now a thoroughly secular society where strict observance of religious faith is the exception. The British have difficulty accepting what they see as the religiosity of many Americans, so there's huge potential for a disconnect
with devout Muslims."

Indeed, Muslims differ significantly from the general population when it comes to the centrality of faith in their lives. Asked to rate the importance of "living according to the rules of my religion," 79 percent of the Muslim sample said "nothing is more important/very high priority," compared with just 18 percent of the general sample. (To
participate in the survey, Muslims had to identify themselves as Muslim, but
they did not have to be devout or even practicing. The general sample had no faith requirement.)

As for other priorities in their lives, Muslim respondents were generally more apt to rate the various options as important. As many as 85 percent of Muslims rated "education for my family" as "nothing is more important/very high priority," compared with 78 percent of the general sample. Likewise, "career" was given high priority by 72 percent of Muslims, but a much lower 50 percent of the general population; "financial security" also scored with more Muslims (80 percent vs. 76 percent).
Last Mod: 22 Mayıs 2007, 00:06
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