Muslim millennials are an emerging market segment and in recent times, there has been a steady movement by this demography to assert their consumer needs in the global mainstream. Muslim millennials wear their faith with pride embracing both modernity and modesty in equal measure, and at the same time, they want to be part of the global community.
Who are the Muslim millennials?
Muslim millennials are those born in the past 30 years and they are one of the strongest drivers of growth in the halal economy. In 2014, the Muslim population worldwide stood at 1.7 billion, and this figure is expected to rise to 2.2 billion by 2030 with 29% of the global young population (between ages 15 to 29) then projected to be Muslim. In short, young Muslims are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the world.
Endearingly nicknamed Generation M, young Muslims also go by monikers like mipsters – a play on Muslim and hipsters – and gummies, meaning global urban Muslims. The Muslim millennials as a consumer group is interesting as their choices are largely shaped by their faith. According to Shelina Janmohamed, vice president at Ogilvy Noor, “They believe that being faithful and living a modern life go hand in hand, and that there is absolutely no contradiction between the two.”
Mixing faith with food, fashion and fun
Thanks to the internet, Muslim millennials are more informed and more connected, and in dollars and cents, this translates into a bigger participation in sectors like travel, retail, recreation, and food and beverages. Influence from pop culture and interests in different regional cultures have created a global demand for Muslim-friendly versions of cuisine, products and experiences.
Halal French, Japanese, Thai cuisine; mocktails and non-alcoholic desserts; halal cosmetics and grooming products – there is a vacuum to be filled for these huge untapped markets. The numbers are encouraging, with 2015 worldwide spending estimates reported as: USD 415 billion on halal food, USD 45 billion on modest fashion clothing, and USD 24 billion on Muslim-friendly travel services.
While big-brand names like Uniqlo and H&M have started taking note by launching their own modest fashion lines, in recent years, Muslim millennials themselves have been proactive in changing the consumer landscape. From influencers on the internet to small businesses online, it has been a busy marketplace.
In Malaysia, influencers like Vivy Yusof and Wak Doyok have transformed from social media darlings to successful brands with a highly popular modest fashion portal and men’s grooming line, respectively. As both consumers and entrepreneurs alike, Muslim millennials are taking charge of their own narrative in showing off to the rest of the world that halal can be hip and halal can be fun.
Pop culture has also created an appetite for Muslim-friendly experiences that encompasses travel and recreation. Take for example how a hijab cosplay event was held in Malaysia in 2017 and Muslim millennials who are Japanese anime and manga fans responded positively to it. Participants came out in droves integrating their religious identity into costumes of their favourite characters.
Another example is how hallyu has brought Korean dramas and music to the homes of millennials, creating a lucrative opportunity to meeting the needs of young travellers who want to try tteobokki and immerse in an authentic but halal Korean experience.
What Muslim millennials want the world to know is that they are just like everyone else and they are not any different from a football-loving Brazilian in Sao Paolo or a K-Pop fan in Seoul. Generation M is talking with their wallets and it should make for interesting music to savvy entrepreneurs’ ears.
State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2016/17. Thompson Reuters & Dinar Standard.
Superheroes and hijabs: Malaysia’s Muslim cosplayers, Jun 2017. Al Jazeera.
How Britain’s young Muslims are tapping into a £2 trillion market, Oct 2016. The Guardian.
Meet Generation M: The young, affluent Muslims changing the world, Sep 2016. The Guardian.
Halal food: A market waiting to be tapped into?, Sep 2013. The Guardian.