Finally. The world is slowly starting to wake up to cater to the needs of one of the most exciting trends: the millennial Muslims. They’ve been named many things, from Mipsterz (Muslim hipsters) to GUMmies (global urban Muslim consumers), but one thing’s for sure – they can no longer be ignored. There are numerous ways that brands can tap into this market, but how to do it the right way?
IT’S HALAL, THEN WHAT?
We are all familiar with the 1.7 billion global Muslim market that is worth trillions of dollars. The opportunities are vast, however, global brands have for a while leaned towards low-risk strategies, such as limiting their efforts to meat and money (sharia finance and halal foods), or local brand acquisitions. Marketers and brand builders have been lazy or perhaps even afraid in understanding the Muslim consumer. Stamping on a halal-sticker will not be good enough to capture the attention of the next generation of millennial Muslims. Zara, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and numerous other fashion brands have long embraced their successful Ramadan-collections, but why is it that the needs of Muslims are only catered to once a year? Why not go full on? It’s time to raise our efforts and progress our thinking.
What makes the millennial Muslim market unique is their cross-cultural background, their love for the internet, and the mastering of social media. It is not an age group that brands should target but a mind-set. The digital technology offers modern Muslims a new tool for navigation, especially amongst the female consumers who are extremely active online, looking for the latest fashion trends and even leading some of the hottest feeds on Instagram. Women of this generation are able to self-express, create and share experiences with like-minded individuals across geographical boundaries.
To give a few examples, the success of The Body Shop in Muslim-majority countries shows that you don’t have to be labeled as “halal” to appeal to Muslims. Simply, the company’s ethical and natural approach is enough to appeal, as these are both values that Muslims share. When in 2015 H&M launched its fashion campaign featuring its first hijab-wearing model, Muslim women were ecstatic. It was the nonchalant approach that made Muslim women, dedicated consumers of H&M, feel a deep connection with the brand. Finally, their needs were also taken into consideration, their voice had been heard, and their role models embraced. And H&M didn’t need to be labeled “halal” to achieve this success.
What’s interesting about the two examples above, is that you don’t have to be a “Muslim brand” to successfully connect with this new generation of Muslim consumers. All you need is to find the common values that we share, and tap into that.
LIKE A BOSS
The fashion world isn’t the only industry to take into consideration. In fall 2015 Ummah Wide published the “50 Most Innovative Global Muslim Start-ups” covering a variety of industries from media to tourism. Halal-travel guides, crowdfunding platforms, creative agencies and mobile apps were all featured in the list, indicating the scale and vastness of the potential markets out there. Many young Muslims are now becoming CEOs of their own companies, which means that branding isn’t only limited to B2C, but the necessity of B2B-branding is rapidly growing as well.
Just like the internet, the millennial Muslims are a growing, evolving market. As stated earlier, global brands have failed miserably in the past when reaching out to this market group, missing out on some big action and hot opportunities. But it’s not too late. So far, only the surface of branding strategies targeting the millennial Muslims has been scratched.