Photo Credit: Crescent International
Halal – it’s that five letter word that constantly sparks debate in the Muslim and non-Muslim community. By definition, ‘halal’ is an Arabic word and refers to what is permissible or lawful in the traditional Islamic law. Many would be quick to associate the term halal with food and drinks, especially meat but little do they know that the halal concept goes just beyond meat, as it also encompasses the overall Islamic lifestyle.
It’s not just about food?
What many people don’t seem to realise is that the halal concept applies to more than just what is being consumed by an individual. According to the Pew Research Center, the Muslim population is projected to grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060, with an expectation to increase by 70% - from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060. This could be the very reason why there has been an increase in demand for halal services and products in the Asia Pacific region as well as globally.
Taking the world by storm is the rapid growth of halal tourism. It has been reported that spending by the Muslim traveller is set to rise to US$220 billion by 2020, alongside the growing number of Muslim tourists, from 121 million in 2016 to 156 million. While the origins of the halal tourism market stemmed from pilgrimages, this industry has gained popularity due to Muslim tourists having more spending power.
A study from the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019 identified four ‘need to have services’ that Muslims require during their travels – halal food, prayer facilities, water-friendly washrooms and no Islamophobia. Many countries such as Thailand and Japan have jumped onto the bandwagon to provide such services for Muslim tourists with both countries opening their very first halal hotel. These hotels provide facilities for practicing Muslims to make them at ease such as halal-certified dining, prayer rooms, and even separate swimming pools for men and women.
Breaking the norms in fashion
Besides halal tourism, the halal fashion industry has been breaking new ground over the past few years. Halal fashion refers to clothes that are modest and Shariah-compliant, where clothes are generally loose-fitting and cover the awrat (Arabic for intimate parts). The rise of hijab-wearing influencers and models have also turned a handful of well-known designers into designing modest collections. The traditional ladies head scarf has been re-designed for the modern Muslim woman who seeks to live life to fullest by engaging in fashion related activities and sports. Italian luxury fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana released a collection of hijabs and abayas, targeted to Muslim customers in the Middle East in 2016. Popular Japanese fashion retail brand, Uniqlo has also collaborated with designer and internet personality, Hana Tajima, to embrace the modest fashion scene back in 2015. Sports apparel brand, Nike, became the first major brand to launch the ‘sporting hijab’ for women in 2017. Further going against the norm in the industry, was Somali-American beauty who appeared as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Such examples show how the western and non-Muslim community are more open to embrace the halal market.
Similar to the fashion industry, halal beauty products are paving their way into the hearts and minds of consumers from all over the world, not just the Muslims. Halal beauty products must not contain materials that are forbidden by Islamic law, such as alcohol and any animal by-products. Water-soluble or breathable nail polishes are also gaining popularity among many Muslim women worldwide with brands such as Wardah Beauty and American-based Amara Cosmetics and Orly, making it easier for ladies to look beautiful while embracing an Islamic lifestyle.
Creating more awareness for halal brands
It is without a doubt that the halal industry has become a phenomenon over the past few years. What used to only be limited in the Middle East, is now gaining a strong footing in other parts of the world such as the Asia Pacific, Europe and even Singapore. The upcoming Halal Hub that is set to open in our tiny red dot in 2021 will be “the most advanced of its kind in Southeast Asia” and this will boast Singapore’s halal landscape into the eyes of the world.
With so much potential to capture a larger international audience for the halal industry, more effort needs to be taken by these brands to market their products more effectively. Furthermore, younger Muslims play large part in how halal centric products are too be marketed given that they have more spending power and influence over social media channels.
Ignorance can only be fought with education and that’s where content marketing comes into play.
The shifting perceptions and spending power of non-Muslim consumers worldwide are also a key aspect in helping the halal industry to grow. Through education and more media exposure, these consumers will be more aware of the halal industry and how halal products and services are not just for Muslims but for everyone.