The wider US$2.3 trillion halal market offers many further opportunities for New Zealand exporters outside New Zealand’s traditional lamb and beef products, a group in Wellington heard recently. These include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and clothing, alongside media and travel.
An inaugural Islam 101 workshop organised by the Halal Marketing Authority and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) in Wellington explored the opportunities offered by the immense market in presentations from FIANZ director Parwaiz Karamat, a former senior IBM executive, and American IT specialist Fatima Ahmed.
With a population of over 1.8 billion people in 49 Muslim majority countries, Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity and is estimated to grow to 2.76 billion by 2050, explained Ahmed, who moved from Texas to New Zealand three years ago with her husband.
In 2011, the value of the global halal market, not including banking, was estimated at US$2.3 trillion by Ahmad H et al in a paper looking at halal business. The market is driven by food and beverages, which at US$1.4 trillion accounted for 43 percent of products, media (23 percent), clothing (23 percent), tourism (eight percent), pharmaceuticals (seven percent) and cosmetics and personal care (five percent).
Understanding what it means to be Muslim is a start to successfully unlock the very significant halal market, that extends way beyond what is traditionally understood by the New Zealand meat industry (see ‘Understanding the Muslim Consumer’ below).
Selling to Muslim consumers is a new marketing perspective, Karamat’s presentation showed, and, he believes, New Zealand is well placed to deliver to them.
By far the biggest concentration of Muslims – 61 percent, numbering just under one billion – live on New Zealand’s doorstep, in the Asia-Pacific countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, China and on the US west coast. Muslims in India and Pakistan outnumber those in the entire Middle East and North African region (317 million). In addition, there are 248.5 million in sub-Saharan Africa, 43.5 million in Europe and 3.5 million in the US.
The most populous Muslim country Indonesia, where over 230 reside, recently legislated for all consumer goods to be certified as halal from 17 October.
Islamic or halal marketing was defined by Karamat as fulfilling: “needs through halal products and services with the mutual consent of buyers and sellers for achieving material and spiritual well-being in the world here and the hereafter.”
Marketers need to really do their research to connect with their customers, anticipate their needs and be consistent, he explained.
“You need to really understand their needs, not interpret them in your own mind,” he added. Ninety-five percent of decisions are made at the subliminal level. “Always address the unconscious mind,” he advised.
Selling to Muslim markets means selling emotions, not logic, finding the emotional triggers “and using them wisely,” using powerful words and building trust, said Karamat
“Lead the conversation,” he urged.
Both he and Ahmed referred to marketing successes for a number of global companies that have been addressing Islamic markets with halal products.
Nike, for example, produced a US$35 performance wear hijab, which drew young Muslim customers into the stores. While there they also bought other items of sportswear, perhaps costing between US$100-150 per item. L’Oreal simply used a very famous Muslim fashion blogger to front campaigns in the markets, without changing a thing in their range, but capitalising on Muslim women’s interest in beauty and cosmetics.
Nestle, Unilever, L’Oreal, Colgate, Baskin Robbins and Campbell Soups are other companies that have dipped into the market, now enjoying almost 90 percent share in halal foods, cosmetics and medicines. In addition, PR company Ogilvy and Mather launched Ogilvy Noor, the world’s first Islamic branding agency in May 2010.
Getting online and using digital marketing to target key populations is key to targeting Muslim consumers today. Karamat showed statistics from January 2019 showing digital penetration is very high in Pacific Rim markets in Eastern Asia and the US (both 70 percent), South-Eastern Asia (61 percent) and Oceania (57 percent).
“Distance is no longer a problem at all,” he said. “Anything that can be produced and delivered digitally is a prime market for New Zealand,” he thinks. Social media is an important part of the mix.
In addition, HMA contact and Ngā Tai O Te Awa business manager Charles Chadwick – who spent 20 years with Wellington-based meat processing company Taylor Preston before graduating with an MBA from Victoria University of Wellington – said he felt Māori values were close to those of halal and the halal market also had plenty of opportunities for Māori products.
The general feeling from Karamat, Ahmed and Chadwick was that New Zealand’s response to the Christchurch mosque attacks has been generally well received in the wider Muslim community here in New Zealand.
Understanding the Muslim consumer
Islam is a framework for life, Fatima Ahmed explained. The word itself means ‘peace” and living as a Muslim means living by the Islamic ideals laid out in the Quran (Koran). It is a way of life that emphasises peace, looking after the needy and respecting the right of the individual.
An individual’s conduct is governed within the boundaries of what is permitted – ‘halal’ – while what is not permitted is ‘haram’. Halal refers to permissible behaviour, speech, dress, conduct, manner and diet and also to applying Islamic business ethics and market manners. In addition, anything that can be verified as being sustainable and environmentally-friendly will become a sadqah (pronounced ‘saddah’) thing – an act of giving out to the people in need and society at large – and, along with ethical and fair-trade products, can also be marketed as halal.
The New Zealand meat industry is familiar with halal requirements for meat – that means no pork and the animal must be freshly slaughtered according to Muslim rites. FIANZ is one of the recognised authorities providing certification to meat processing companies to signify that the correct halal procedures have been followed, which satisfy the majority of Muslim authorities. However, other rules also apply to all other parts of life, such as no anger, no gambling or alcohol, all of which involve individuals making decisions at an unconscious level, which is haram.
Generally, daily life as a Muslim means living a “balanced middle path”, adhering to dietary rules, showing modesty in dress and behaviour and in relations with non-Muslims, said Ahmed.
Like Christianity, Islam is a worldwide religion. While religion is a personal choice, its practice is determined by the community in which it operates. The cultural differences between countries mean there are as many different ways in which Muslim people worship, act and look, as there are in the Christian world, she explained.
Understanding and being aware of those cultural experiences is really important, she said, adding Saudi Arabia stands apart from the other countries in terms of its strict religious policing of behaviour. Other countries have a far more casual approach.
“It is really important to do your homework about the culture you are working in,” she advises.
Contrary to some misconceptions, Muslim women “are their own person” and do not change their last name, said Ahmed, adding today Muslim women are experiencing increasing empowerment in education, employment, public life, marriage and childbearing.
“From a business perspective, you need to know the woman is in control of her own money, is a key decision-maker in the household and an avid consumer with purchasing decisions based on faith,” she said.
Ahmed also noted: “Being faithful and living a modern life go hand-in-hand and there is absolutely no contradiction between the two.”
It is also a relatively young population. In 2010, about 60 percent of the total population of Muslim-majority countries were under the age of 30. Muslim millennials, or ‘Gen M’, including Muslim hipsters (Mipsters) and Gummies (global, urban Muslims), are a fast-growing, affluent and tech-savvy grouping and they want to be dealt with in the same way as their non-Muslim counterparts.
FIANZ was established in 1979 and is a federation of several regional New Zealand Muslim Associations. It provides halal certification services for meat and other products. HMA is a charitable trust and aims to aid in the understanding of concepts as they relate to doing business in a Muslim environment. The next workshop will be held in Auckland at a date and venue yet to be determined.