Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Malaysian automaker Proton along with Iran and Turkey are planning to build an Islamic car. The additional features are supposed to be a compass to find the direction of Mecca and a compartment to keep the Koran in. The realization that as a marketer one needs to be able to address the cultural differences among consumer while designing products and communications has always been acknowledged and we even have a separate sub-discipline called multi-cultural marketing which specifically addresses these issues. The question this proposed new product introduction raises is "Is a need for a specific product like this in the first place or is that the case of a marketer trying to exploit the religious sentiments of a specific set of consumers?" There have been many critical comments on the idea already, saying that it is cynical marketing.
The idea that one should target specific needs of customers within larger markets through segmentation is a well accepted marketing strategy which has lead to many successes. But from what is available in the media the only additional features it boasts of is the compass and compartments for Koran and the Scarf. The company has also made claims that it has identified a huge gap in the market. Lets us suppose for a minute that there is indeed a need for such additional features in a car how long will it the competition to add a few compartments and compass to their exiting models and bring out their own versions of the Islamic Car?