The halal market is a complex and fragmented jigsaw puzzle, still fluid and expanding. Variables based on cultural assumptions, habits and preferences, different interpretations of the Islamic law and the global nature of food-product supply chains add to this complexity. To understand the growth and evolution of the halal market, it is useful to focus on forces that are driving this market forward.
Consumer awareness in the halal food sector has already had a significant impact on the development of the market over the past decade. Lifestyle changes across generations, all over the world, have been reflected in changes in shopping, cooking and dietary habits.
Awareness of the relationship between diet and health, on the one hand, and the need for processed convenience foods, on the other, have given rise to new subsectors of the food market that have their counterparts in the halal market. Online connectivity via social media and access to corporate websites have narrowed the gap between the manufacturer’s practices and the customer’s preferences. This trend will inevitably continue as the use of social media expands. Major brands recognize the importance of Muslim consumers and their preferences, and are now seeing familiar patterns of niche markets becoming an expanding subset of the mainstream markets, especially as populations become more culturally diverse.
A survey of the US Muslim consumer market found that a vast majority of respondents (85%) felt ignored by the major brands and wanted to see more products, and even marketing campaigns, directed towards them. At the same time, major US corporations such as Walmart and Costco have said they see the rise of the Muslim market following the same growth patterns as the Afro-American or Hispanic markets in the United States, i.e. moving from small niche to significant slice of the mainstream.
There is a trend towards ‘majority minority’ markets that is, most of a market is made up of minorities with their own specific preferences. As food retailers and others face narrowing profit margins, manufacturers and marketers are driven to look for viable niches with good growth potential criteria that closely match the halal market profiles.