There is a consumer segment that is growing faster than any other globally. In regions where both population and economy are stagnant, there is one group of consumers set to grow in both size and spending power – the Muslim consumers.
While China and India have captured the world’s attention, the Muslim segment remains a quiet but enormous untapped consumer market. There are about 1.8 billion Muslims around the world and we call this “the third one billion” opportunity. Almost one in four of the world’s population is Muslim, and this number is expected to grow by a significant 35 per cent to 2.2 billion in 2030.
The global “Halal” market is estimated at US$2.1 trillion (S$2.6 trillion), growing at a phenomenal US$500 billion annually. At Ogilvy & Mather, we have created Ogilvy Noor in response to this immense opportunity, making us the first bespoke Islamic branding practice offering expert practical advice on how to build brands that appeal to Muslim consumers globally.
The movers and shakers, the ones leading Muslim consumer trends, we have dubbed “The Futurists”. They tend to be younger and under 30. This 42 per cent of the Muslim population commands disproportionate influence among the wider Muslim community. Marketers who wish to build a relationship with these consumers need to recognise that glib generalisations about Muslims used so flippantly by many are not enough when reaching out.
Industry thinking on how to best speak to Muslim consumers has grown rapidly in the last few years.”Islamic branding”, as it is known, is fast becoming one of the most hotly debated topics in marketing circles. “Halal” is moving beyond the conventional religious meaning relating to the technicalities of meat to encompass the broader concepts of halal and tayyib, good, wholesome and pure. Its application is extending to beauty, pharmaceuticals and even tourism. At the heart of this “Halal” revolution is the unsung consumer, the new-age Muslim consumer, the Futurist, responsible for shaping branding and marketing for generations to come.
So who are these Futurists? In our segmentation of the global Muslim consumer population, the Futurists show marked differences in values and behaviour compared to their counterparts, the Traditionalists. These are people brought up in the shadow of 9/11 who identify themselves strongly as Muslims. They are twice as likely as the Traditionalists to say that “religion gives me a sense of identity”. It is this sense of purpose that differentiates them from the broader global Generation Y population. In contrast to the Traditionalists who seek belonging and social harmony, they are proudly individualistic. The Futurists are driven by success and progression, – believing in Islam as a tool to bring about positive change. They believe in an Islam that is flexible, that allows them to find their own path, balancing their sense of self within the realms of the Ummah, or global Muslim nation, and society at large.
The Futurists are a generation of educated, well-travelled and tech-savvy Muslims who use the knowledge of the world and their experiences to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them. They are tomorrow’s catalysts, confident in using their knowledge and skills to bring about a positive change in their worlds.
For marketers, the Muslim Futurists are an ideal target audience, simply because they enjoy deep relationships with brands. They seek brands that embrace the values that are important to them: humility, transparency, purity and togetherness; brands that shape the communities they serve and demonstrate a higher purpose that goes beyond product delivery. Brands which ignore or stereotype them will do so at their own peril.
The full version of this article first appeared in The Business Times.