Luul Hussain is Co-Founder of Network and Chill UK
More than just Halal
I look like I’m about to drop some hot bars in this picture but this was the final pitch I made before landing a job at advertising agency FCB Inferno to make up one third of a creative team. I guess they took it as my unofficial job application.
Why did it take Dolce & Gabanna releasing some dodgy Abayas for the world to wake up and see that the Muslim consumer needs more than halal food in your local Tesco. They might have paved the way for mainstream brands like Uniqlo and H&M to be braver in their decision to appeal to a ‘young, brand conscious, well connected and increasingly affluent consumer segment’ but could it be too little too late?
I suppose the online backlash M&S received for stocking Burkinis is a great place to start. Brands are so fearful of being branded as ‘sharia compliant’ probably by the same demographic of the population who voted to Brexit. I call them the Taking all our Jobbers. The part of the population that enjoys a curry after a bender, but the sight of someone one shade darker than beige calls for a lengthy comment on a Daily Mail article.
What brands don’t realise (quite shockingly) is that being Muslim doesn’t automatically make you an ISIS sympathiser. Creating products and services that respond to the Muslim consumer’s needs doesn’t make you an ISIS sympathiser. Gosh I actually had to point that out.
The only thing I think people should have found offensive was how ghastly the Burkini range looked. Considering 1.8bn Muslims contribute approximately $2.3tn to the global economy they could have thrown in a sequin or two. I mean c’mon.
Essentially this is an untapped market that’s different to any other. We genuinely want to see the brands that we know and love finally recognise us. Muslims have an estimated £20.5b spending power in Britain alone so it’s only right to see long sleeve tops in the summer! No?
The past few years have seen some of the most influential bloggers in the Muslim sphere release their own hijab lines, Muslim women appear in mainstream adverts and global sparks of conversations surrounding Islamophobia. This seems to be a step in the right direction but the wider political landscape perpetuates astounding levels of ignorance in Britain and across the pond, making it harder for brands to actually be brave. No, I take that back. It makes it harder to brands to pay attention. There’s nothing valiant in responding to a consumer demand.
I’m not calling for a #MuslimConsumersMatter hashtag, just asking brands to pay attention and get a slice of the cake before it’s too late.
P.S We’re not all Asian.