Rise of the Muslim Pound

Yesterday, The Independent had an interesting article on the growth of the ‘Muslim market’ in the United Kingdom and the emerging recognition amongst marketers of the value of the ‘Muslim pound’.

Marian Salzman is one of the world’s foremost trend-spotters, a woman who can see something coming before others have even raised their heads above the parapet. And the next big thing in marketing, she reckons, is the Muslim pound.

They are the equivalent to Latinos in America – a huge ethnic group with its own special needs and interests. According to Mintel, a market research company, the estimated spending power of Muslims in the UK is £20.5bn. There are more than 5,000 Muslim millionaires in the UK, with combined assets worth more than £3.6bn.

“It’s a unique market with a unique set of needs, for example in the banking area,” says Salzman, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of consultancy JWT. “Under sharia law, different kinds of mortgages need to be written in order for someone who is Muslim to acquire a home. There is banking law which impacts financial transactions. There is Islamic law which impacts investment portfolios. And there’s halal law which impacts consumption of food, beauty and healthcare products.”

Whilst some of these products and services will be designed to cater for the religious needs of observant Muslims, such as halal food and halal finance, there will also be a raft of ‘identity products’ that serve no meaningful religious purpose but cater to the political and cultural zeitgeist within the Muslim community. For example, as this excellent post by Dr El-Gamal points out, we already have Islamic cola and Islamic jeans.

Of particular interest, is Salzman’s observation that growth in this market has largely been the result of an Islamic revival of sorts that has occurred in the aftermath of the 7/7 and 9/11 terrorist attacks. She suggests that, for various reasons, Muslims began to identify less with the dominant culture and looked to their religion for identity.  As such, they have looked to products and services that cater to their and their perceived needs and wants.

Has this happened in Australia? It’s hard to say but certainly there is some anecdotal evidence that the heightened interest in all things Islamic after 9/11 led some Muslims to ‘return’ to their religion as well. The community is, of course, substantially smaller than the UK so I doubt we will be hearing Australian marketers talk of the “Muslim dollar” any time soon.