JAKARTA: Indonesia’s embrace of Islam is extending into all areas of life, changing how consumers interact with everyday goods and services and with brands and advertisers having to respond accordingly.

“There is a wave of Islamisation sweeping the country and it is not just limited to religion but is fast becoming a part of the day-to-day choices consumers are making about what they eat, what they wear, what they buy, where they travel and how they engage with brands,” according to Eka Sugiarto, head of media at Unilever Indonesia and SEA.

“Adoption of hijab and halal has been the biggest driver of this trend in Indonesia and our brand marketing decisions are increasingly reflecting these changes,” she told Campaign Asia Pacific.

Examples from Unilever include Sunsilk Halal and Hijab Fresh, a shampoo and a range of body care products respectively, that cater to hijab-wearing women.

“The brands that have been created specially for the Indonesian market need to be rooted in the Muslim values of halal,” Sugiarto asserted.

But the brand that perhaps best exemplifies the changes taking place and the new approach agencies and brands are taking to segmentation is Wardah.

The beauty product range “hit gold” with its advertising featuring the ‘Wardah Girl’, said Raghavan Srinivasan, recently retired CEO of Kantar (Insights) Indonesia.

The brand is, of course, halal and competes with global rivals, but, more important, he suggested, was the image being projected to ordinary Indonesian women.

“No longer was there a fair, blonde, Caucasian woman staring at Indonesian women from the billboards or computer screens,” he pointed out. “There was someone they could soak into and aspire to be” – and other brands are now following this example.

Past research by Ogilvy Noor – the agency’s Islamic branding consultancy – has shown that almost three in every five Muslims do not feel that global brands understand or cater to their specific needs.

Young Muslim consumers especially “want best-in-class communications strategies, not just something that has a halal sticker on it, or a crescent moon in the corner”, according to agency vice president Shelina Janmohamed. (For more read WARC’s report: The 'next billion' consumers: How brands can engage Muslim millennials.)

Sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by WARC staff