Does the Global Muslim Community use Brands?

The global Muslim community, today, is comprised of diverse, socio-culturally influenced, consumer groups i.e.: each segment of the global Muslim consumers is from a specific set of social & cultural values and practices. These socio-cultural characteristics, in a way, influence/affect the way the Muslim consumer approaches his/her need fulfilment and brand preference.

Is “brand” important to the Muslim consumer? Or are we trying to make do, the best we can, with what’s available as ‘halal’ certified brands today?

As consumers, brands are of high importance to the Muslim consumer. Some feedback (from a recent qualitative study):

1.’Brand value is not important it is more of status symbol for individual, rightly said it is social driver of having to fit in with the peer group.”
2.”…Muslims personally that will only buy name brand clothing whether it is Islamic or Western styles”.
3. “I go for brands however never undermine quality and value for money.”
4. “Brands will always be part of our lives, Muslim or not, but as humans, we are inclined to buy them as the companies are good in their marketing strategies, making out that this or that particular item is something we can’t live without!”

As one can see, ‘quality’ and ‘price’, are strongly associated with ‘brand’. In fact there exists a mental parameter/checklist of quality vs. price when making a purchase decision. And there are other, clear, influencers in this psychological brand selection process.

But what comes out is a lack of clarity with regards to ‘halal brands’.

We rationalise why we are using the brands that we use in our daily lives.And one of the key reasons for that is because:
(A) Unavailability of halal brands for daily use i.e.: cosmetics, travel & tourism, pharma. Categories that have few brands making up the industry though geographically limited. Whilst the need exists, probably financing, production and marketing logistics inhibit the existing players from taking their products on a regional and global scale.
(B) Varying disposable income of the global Muslim community: This is a key factor in terms affecting marketing forecasting and therefore possible business growth. Data available shows that the Muslim purchasing power is not in sync with the population concentration but just the reverse. Therefore current manufacturers have gravitated towards the centres where the available disposable income is high and where the Muslim community is willing to pay a premium for halal.
However, this becomes a deterrent, when we need to take the same product to another region/country, where the purchasing power is not so high and yet the need exists.

(C) Certification: The lack of a global halal certification or acceptance of one standard leads to the cumbersome process of having to obtain halal certification both in the country of manufacture as well as in the country the brand is being marketed (if available). This often has acted as a deterrent to many aspiring businesses.
(D) Financing: In order to operate on a regional and global scale, financing for the businesses become a critical factor. However, the Islamic Finance industry is yet to have convergence with the global Halal industry, as a potential investment avenue. This has led to businesses obtaining financing on a smaller scale and therefore restricted itself to operating within limits.

So the question remains– are “brands” important to the global Muslim community?

From all looks of it, brands are an integral part of the Muslim consumers life. For businesses who aim to establish strong brands for this segment, they need to look at:

  1. Value System: Understand the halal vaalue system which is at the core of a Muslim’s daily life.
  2. Convergence: Create the necessary pressure on both industries (Islamic Finance & Halal) to bring about required regulatory changes in order to have convergence and the means of financing available to businesses in order for both the industries to grow and in turn, aid the community.