Transcending religion: The appeal of Halal beauty to non-Muslim consumers
Nicole Fall, Founder of Asian Consumer Intelligence, told Cosmetics Design Asia that the market is “converging”.
As both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers alike continue to demand products from ethical and sustainable companies, Halal beauty brands are presented with an opportunity to leverage on.
“A brand that is Muslimah-friendly because it’s Halal might also have an ethical positioning or underpin its cruelty free origins as a key marketing message,” said Fall.
“Consumers expect a holistic message from brands that transcends religion and encompasses more areas of concern reflecting the values of that particular consumer.”
While not all Halal products are necessarily vegan, organic or even sustainable, many Halal beauty brands in the market now do share ethical common ground with those movements.
Under the laws of Islam, Halal cosmetics cannot be tested on animals nor contain substances that are harmful to human beings, including lead, mercury, and the controversial hydroquinone.
Iba Halal Care, which is claims to be India’s only Halal-certified cosmetics brand describes Halal “as a way of life that benefits an individual in their physical and spiritual well-being.”
According to the company, as a Halal brand, it ensures products are held to high standards of cleanliness and do not endanger human lives. In the same spirit, the company upholds an ethical way of life by not causing harm to animals, the environment or be involved with unfair business practices.
“Consumers are on the lookout for brands that are perceived as either cruelty free, ethically fair or more sustainable,” said Fall. ”Lifestyle brands that support these values resonate with consumers of all ages but particularly to those in their teens through 30s.”
Not enough to be Halal
In order to capitalise on market trends, many Halal beauty brands fashion themselves as cruelty-free, vegan and organic companies when they can. Not only because it aligns with Halal-ethics, but because it is not enough just to be Halal.
“No brand can be successful on a Halal platform only,” said Fall. “It’s just not enough. Just in the same way it’s not enough to be considered cruelty-free. There are dozens of brands that are Halal certified available to the average Indonesian, Indian and Pakistani consumer, who comprise some of the largest Muslim markets in SEA.”
It’s not just the competition that poses a challenges. According to Fall, while the spending power of the region’s Muslimah is increasing, they may not necessarily be looking for Halal products.
“Most of the Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian Muslimah we interview for our strategic research don’t prioritise whether a product is Halal,” said Fall. “We have observed from qualitative interviews that a vast majority of women say they consider whether a beauty brand is Halal, and it’s a ’nice to have’ but currently not a key purchasing driver.”
Currently, the majority of the world’s Muslims are located in Asia, particularly Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
However, said Fall, the Western world has generally been given a Middle Eastern view on what comprises a Muslim identity, even though relatively speaking, the Middle Eastern population of Muslims is smaller than Muslim populations in the South Asia.
Future of Halal
With its ethical positioning, larger brands are making the move to become Halal certified.
Early in the year, DSM announced that over half its personal care portfolio is now certified as Halal. Last year, Symrise announced that more than 200 of their ingredients are compliant with Islamic law.
Fall added that she had noticed South Korean beauty companies, like Amorepacific, establish manufacturing plants in Malaysia in order to capitalise on the market opportunities.
“It’s a smart move by Korean manufacturers which collectively realise the only way to perpetuate the growth of its industry is to identify new consumer targets,” said Fall.
She added, “There are opportunities across much of the world – and if the brands are high quality and affordable, then non-Muslims will also purchase these products.”