Winning over the Muslim consumer
Muslim consumer

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.

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