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As brands increasingly turn their focus towards the female population they have had to re-think their portrayals of women. The old stereotype of the perfect housewife has been replaced by more realistic portrayals of femininity; a prime example being Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. Even toy producers, like Mattel, are reacting by producing a new line of Barbie dolls which come in different body shapes and skin tones to provide a more accurate reflection of diversity amongst women.
After Mattel released their new line of Barbies, a young Nigerian woman set up an Instagram account featuring a series of photographs of a fashion line she had created for ‘Hijarbie’. It became an instant hit. Her social media campaign led to her line being dubbed as ‘the best doll that Barbie forgot to create’.
The resulting social media conversation highlighted the desire of Muslim women to be recognized, represented and to have their identity reflected on the high street.
They are looking for brands and designers who will reach out to them and create fashion-forward products which allow them to feel devout and yet modern. Research which has been conducted to study Muslim attitudes around the world has found an emergence of a population segment which has been dubbed as the “Muslim Futurists”. This tech-savvy generation is now coming of age in areas such as Southeast Asia. While the Muslim women of this cohort are more devout than their parents’ generation, as evidenced by the increasing use of the hijab, they are also more ambitious and cosmopolitan in outlook.
It has been estimated that over a quarter of the world’s population will be Muslim by the year 2050, the current Muslim lifestyle spend sits at approximately $2.6 trillion, and the marketplace for halal products is expected to show growth, driven by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, by 6% over the next three years.
A recently released trend report by JWT Intelligence called The New Muslimah: Southeast Asia Focus, takes a deep dive into this emerging population segment to explore the possible marketing opportunities. The report found that young Muslim women are more cosmopolitan as consumers than older generations of women whilst also being more religiously observant. Therefore, more brands and retailers are keen to tap into the more Islamic and global trends synergistically. The shift in focus will be felt in all sectors, none more so than the beauty, fashion and wellness industry. Whilst the newly emerged segment of consumers may present opportunities to some retailers, they may also pose significant challenges for brands to overcome.
Key brands who have recognized this market and are embracing the change:
- Amara Cosmetics – The first company in North America to provide Halal-certified cosmetic products, from lipsticks to eyeshadows, mascara to foundations.
- Lush – Each Lush product is handmade with fresh 100% vegan ingredients containing only extracts taken from organic fruits and vegetables.
- Orly nail varnish – 100% Halal-certified products intended to provide a restorative effect to promote nail growth and thickness. It also claims to allow air and moisture to pass through by applying technology similar to that used in contact lenses.
To stay ahead of the competition, brands are required to let go of oppressive stereotypes, and embrace the fact Muslim women do not operate in binaries. They do not have to choose between a religious life and a secular life, in fact, most Muslim women are somewhere in the middle of the two, however it is only when Western culture sheds its prejudice that Muslim women will see the representation and inclusion by bands which they desire. There are major opportunities for brands if they are willing to embrace the economically powerful audience of the “Muslim Futurists”.