Talk to any marketing professional for any prolonged period and I guarantee they will mention the word “segmentation”. This is marketing speak for identifying niches in the marketplace that have spending power for which products or services have yet to be created or fully exploited. In the past marketing gurus have written books and forged entire careers on telling fellow professionals about such pockets of spending power and influence. The so called “silver pound” (senior citizens) or the “pink pound” (the gay community) being two such celebrated examples.
It now seems that entrepreneurs and marketing professionals are waking up to another growing market, one that is increasingly seeking products and services that match its specific requirements. It is of course the community of 2.7 million Muslims who live in the UK today. This equates to almost 5% of total population in the UK. So far so good, but things get really interesting from a commercial perspective when a recent marketing research survey revealed that of those surveyed 90% stated that their faith strongly influenced their consumer purchases.
In an effort to examine this important segment of the market BBC journalist Evan Davis recently hosted a discussion which included a market analyst from the marketing agency Oglivy & Noor (part of the global agency Oglivy & Mather) and two UK entrepreneurs who as Muslims themselves have recognised the commercial opportunity that the burgeoning Muslim economy represents.
Halal booking.com is a company founded around 5 years ago and is a specialist organisation providing holidays for those seeking holidays which are compliant with their beliefs. Interestingly co-owner Elnur Seyidli spoke about the importance of not over emphasising the Muslim aspect of the holidays. A quick visit to the Halal booking.com website reinforces this, where the emphasis is placed on the quality of the product and service provided, and only then adds that they are in accordance with Islamic beliefs.
Shazin Saleem the founder of ieat foods agrees with this “quality first” approach. She spoke with passion and no little wit about the trials and tribulations of launching her range of supermarket ready meals. Marketed under the tag line of “British Favourites, Halal at last”, she confirmed that since May 2014 Sainsbury and Tesco now stock her Shepherd’s Pie, Rigatoni Pasta and Lasagne, all of which are Halal and to be found in the ready meals chilled aisle. After eight years of trying this is progress indeed.
The power of the Muslim pound is increasingly grabbing the attention of the major brands who are struggling to adapt with this new twist in market demand. Its emergence is likely to be one of the most vibrant elements of the consumer market place over the next decade or perhaps even longer. Halal booking.com and ieat foods are just the early pioneers in this exciting marketplace. For those inventive and enterprising enough there is plenty of opportunity. As for me, although I am not Muslim, I am a consumer and I might just take a trip down the ready meals chilled aisle on my next trip to the supermarket. After all, Shepherd’s Pie is one my favourites too.