retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating story about the backlash that can occur when a retailer markets to the UA Muslim community.

Case in point: Best Buy, which recently included the greeting "Happy Eid al-Adha” in a recent flyer, recognizing an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. While members of that community felt that the reference was inclusive and respectful, it was not a unanimous reaction.

The Times writes, “On Best Buy's website, people around the country posted contrasting views. ‘You insult all of the heros and innocent who died 911 by celebrating a holiday of the religion that said to destroy them!’ wrote one. Many others said they would no longer shop at Best Buy.

“The controversy underscores the continuing obstacles that retailers and other companies face in marketing to a U.S. Muslim population estimated at more than 2.3 million by the Pew Research Center.”

And, the Times adds, “Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and with more recent incidents, such as the Ft. Hood shooting and attempted Christmas Day plane bombing, the word ‘Muslim’ for some Americans is synonymous with terrorism. And that's an image that corporations don't want attached to their brand names.

“A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 35% of Americans have a negative view of Muslims and 45% believe Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence.”
KC's View:
This story is particularly interesting in view of the recent controversy when Publix handed out a free calendar to its shoppers that noted that December 7, 2010, is the beginning of the Islamic New Year...and did not note that it also is Pearl Harbor Day. A Florida radio talk show host decided to make a big deal of this, essentially accusing Publix of being un-American and consorting with our enemies...and managed to stoke enough hatred and bile among her listeners that they forced Publix to withdraw the calendar from circulation.

What is un-American, in my view, is this kind of intolerance.

It is both sensible and inclusive for companies to reach out to ethnic and religious demographics, especially those, like the Muslim community, that is growing in numbers. They’re customers, too.

More to the point, it was not the Muslim community that perpetrated the attacks of 9-11. It was terrorists who happened to be Muslim. It was terrorists who, best I can tell, have a perverted view of Islam.

There’s a big difference.

Best Buy and Publix ought to be lauded for being aggressive in their recognition of the Muslim community, not targeted by hate-mongers.