What the Halal is Going on?

By Imogen Matthews • In-Cosmetics

Demand for these beauty products is surging thanks to a fast-growing Muslim population, as well as an interest in ‘better-for-you’ formulas within general consumer groups.

Muslims comprise a quarter of the global population, according to an estimate by the Pew Research Center. As the Muslim population continues to grow, more consumers want halalcertified cosmetics and personal-hygiene products.

HALAL BEAUTY is on the verge of going mainstream as the major players move into this emerging category with halal-certified formulations for products and new launches. Tipped for future growth at the In-Cosmetics 2015 Marketing Trends presentations, halal beauty products are in hot demand, not only from Muslim consumers, but those looking for more rigorous claims than most natural or organic brands can offer.

Rising Muslim populations with increased spending power are responsible for the burgeoning interest in halal products. Asia is becoming the driving force for halal, most importantly Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, according to Ildiko Szalai, senior research analyst, beauty and personal care at Euromonitor International.

“Not complying with halal standards would be a significant trade barrier for expanding companies looking to reach the widest possible consumer base,” she maintains.

Some of biggest personal care players are moving into this space, such as Colgate-Palmolive, which obtained halal certification for its toothpaste and mouthwash products in Malaysia nearly eight years ago. Shiseido now has halal certification for its 28 skin care products sold in Malaysia under the Za brand, while Talent Cosmetic became the first Korean beauty company to obtain halal certification for products targeting Malaysian consumers. More than a year ago, Unilever requested Indonesia’s Muslim Council scrutinize more than 200 products, including key personal care brands such as Dove, Lifebuoy, Sunsilk, Clear and TreSemmé.

Regional halal beauty brands are also expanding, not only in their home territory but internationally. One example is Ibab Halal Care, India’s first halal cosmetic brand, which was launched in 2014.

“The brand sells over 80 halal-certified products largely through standalone stores around India and global online retailers like Amazon and Flipkat,” explained Szalai.

Another is Wardah, which has been successful in Indonesia, has a presence in Malaysia, and its products are selling through leading European department stores, including Galeries Lafayette.

“The best halal opportunities are currently in Southeast Asia with still plenty of room for growth here, but the Middle East and more developed markets in Africa show potential,” Szalai added.

However, Stephane Le Moullec, managing director, Butterfly London, insists the halal market is largely untapped as very few global corporate brands have found the key to truly resonate with an audience that demands very different rules of engagement. Their dilemma is due to the highly complex nature of what halal means, according to experts.

Beauty companies can’t afford to ignore the growing purchasing power of Muslims.

“If we take halal beauty simply as cosmetics, that means its ingredients and manufacturing process don’t include pork or alcohol, while adhering to Islamic codes of ethics,” explains Le Moullec. “If, however, we are talking about the concept of beauty and beautification that is in line with Muslim beliefs, this is still being defined.

“The dichotomy lies in the Islamic belief that enhancing beauty is immodest versus a culture that is highly appreciative of other displays of personal grooming and visual arts,” she added.

Young people, in particular, are driving demand for halal beauty products that fit their lifestyles and beliefs, but its appeal goes far beyond religious reasons.

“Consumers already buy into labels such as vegan, organic, ethical, no animal cruelty, and halal encompasses many of these principles or values,” maintained Le Moullec, who stressed that halal products will have to deliver what they get from mainstream brands to successfully use halal as a differentiator.

“This means not just being certified halal, but having attractive packaging and retail experience so that consumers don’t feel they are compromising. They will also need to create and develop a strong (halal) brand that would resonate emotionally with consumers.”

According to Le Moullec, some of the most successful halal brands deliver the same standard as their non-certified counterparts. Halal Booking, the travel app, delivers all the functionality that consumers might experience from TripAdvisor or booking.com, as well as providing Muslims with the reassurance they need when using it.

Seven Scent is the first UK-based fragrance supplier to achieve halal certification for its entire portfolio following an audit of its manufacturing process by The Halal Trust. The company already had a strong record of creating halal-approved fragrances for PZ Cussons brands in Muslim-majority regions and took this step to open up new opportunities in western market where there is potential for halal-certified personal care and cosmetic products.

On the Seven Scent website, Shoeeb Riaz, independent halal consultant and auditor for The Halal Trust, commented: “Modern, brand conscious young Muslims, particularly women, are keen to follow beauty trends and increasingly look for aspirational personal care and cosmetic products which meet their dual demand for beauty and faith. In the UK, for example, 37% of Muslims fall into the coveted 18-35 year old demographic which is an important consumer audience for brand owners.”

Becoming halal-compliant requires careful consideration. Firstly, brands need to consider if they really want to be compliant or to espouse certain values and philosophies that are consistent with a Muslim lifestyle. As halal certification is immensely complex, with various certifying bodies in different countries with Muslim populations, brand owners must consider the best way to demonstrate their compliance—and whether there is scope for international expansion.

“Crucially, they must match or improve what their non-compliant competitors offer, whether that is through a unique tone of voice, beautiful packaging, a world class retail theatre experience or understanding their religious and cultural beliefs and needs,” stated Le Moullec.

The most successful halal beauty brands are local players that have been hugely successful in the Middle East and SE Asia, often founded by women who have resolved to tackle this demand themselves. Le Moullec sees huge scope for more established brands to replicate this success but most are still unsure on how to position themselves and how to engage with consumers. At this year’s In-Cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations, he will examine the real opportunities for global players to connect with consumers whose beliefs and lifestyle demand a new type of brand experience.

Euromonitor and Butterfly London will participate in the In- Cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations at Excel, London on April 4-6, 2017. Butterfly London managing director Stephane Le Moullec will present on the complex world of halal beauty with consultant Megan Powell.

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