Is your brand ready to serve Muslim consumers from around the world? The answer to the question may not be as simple as it seems. Despite following the same religion of Islam, Muslim consumers considerably differ from one another in terms of cultures, spending habits, and preferences.
Islam is a Deen, Arabic for religion, a path, a way of life. For Muslims, it is an obligation to consume Halal products. Evidently, trust in Halal is an important factor for Muslim consumers in purchasing their daily needs. Therefore, Muslims seek products with a Halal logo from a known Halal certification body like Jakim in Malaysia, MUIS in Singapore, and ISA Halal in the US.
According to the ‘State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/21, the global Islamic economy is a US$2 trillion industry (excluding Islamic finance). It consists of Halal food, media and recreation, modest fashion, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and Muslim-friendly tourism. Halal has gone mainstream, available both in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and also produced by Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
Several large consumer product manufacturers, coffee chains, and fast-food chains operating in Muslim (majority) countries measure the Halal confidence of their products among Muslim consumers through periodic surveys. This information provides brand owners with basic market information on the Muslim consumer preferences of their products and services.
However, is this enough market intelligence for brands to understand as consumer preferences and perceptions can change very quickly? The Halal Times believes that consumer preference is not a suitable measure for corporate Halal reputation. It does not provide you the market intelligence necessary for making major policy decisions.
Halal trust is far more complex than just Halal confidence in a Halal product or service. What is Halal trust exactly and what are appropriate criteria to measure Halal trust? we would like to define Halal trust as ‘The belief of the Muslim consumer in the Halal integrity of the product or service following his or her faith’.
The building blocks that determine the Muslim consumer trust in a brand consist of five components (variables): Halal logo, excellence, transparency, Halal authenticity, and intention. Let us explain each component in more detail.
Building Blocks Of A Trusted Halal Brand
The Halal logo represents the credibility of a Halal certificate: the level of trust in the Halal certification body and its standard. Does the Muslim consumer trust the company’s Halal certificate, admires and respects the Halal certification body’s halal certificate, and prefers this Halal certificate to other Halal certificates? There is a wide spectrum of Halal certification bodies available in the world. Research shows that the JAKIM halal logo from Malaysia is a preferred Halal logo in Malaysia and many other Muslim-majority countries.
Halal excellence is the creation of products and services that are lawful (Halal) and good (tayyib). Does the manufacturer perform at the highest level of food/product safety and produce products/services that are religiously pure? Successful companies in the Halal industry are those companies that embrace Halal excellence by design. Halal excellence is a process – a pursuit of excellence.
Evidence supports from previous Halal crises with top brands that transparency is crucial. Does the Muslim consumer believe what the company says and are they making truthful Halal claims? Best-in-class companies provide information on their website about their Halal policy and Halal control measures in operations. During a Halal issue or crisis, be transparent to your stakeholders and in particular the consumer.
Halal authenticity is the halal DNA of a company and the most valuable asset for corporate Halal reputation. What is the Halal DNA of a company? Does the company have a Halal policy, its DNA aligned with the values-norms-ideals of the Muslim faith, and exceeding existing halal standards? Halal authenticity cannot be left to the internal Halal committee but is the responsibility of top management.
The intention is the foundation of Halal trust. The company’s intention and honesty address aspects, such as if the Muslim consumer admires and respects the company, thinks the company is honest and respectful of Islamic law. In Islam, intentions are the roots of every action. The actions of a company are ultimately judged by its intentions.
According to the Author of ‘Halal Branding’, Professor Dr. Jonathan A.J. Wilson, ‘Halal is beautifully simple, yet complicated at the same time. A corporate Halal reputation should not be taken for granted. It requires effective measurement of both corporate halal reputation and halal trust to protect your license to operate in Muslim markets. Halal trust takes a lifetime to build, seconds to break, and a long time to repair.