retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Boston Globe the other day about the opportunities available to companies targeting the American Muslim population, generally considered to be “a new market segment for US companies. Corporations have long catered to Muslim communities in Europe, but businesses have only tentatively started to follow suit in the United States — and they are doing so at a time of intensified anti-Muslim feeling ... The worldwide market for Islamically permitted goods, called halal, has grown to more than $500 million annually.

“Ritually slaughtered meat is a mainstay, but the halal industry is much broader, including foods and seasoning that omit alcohol, pork products and other forbidden ingredients, along with cosmetics, finance, and clothing.

“Corporations have been courting immigrant Muslim communities in Europe for several years. Nestle, for example, has about 20 factories in Europe with halal-certified production lines and advertises to Western Muslims through a marketing campaign called Taste of Home. Nestle plans to increase its ethnic and halal offerings in Europe in coming years.”

While some major US companies - including Walmart, McDonald’s and Whole Foods - have ventured into the business of marketing aggressively to the Muslim community, the Globe notes that “along with new customers ... the companies draw critics and can become targets in the ideological battles over Islam and terrorism.”

The story reminds us that last year, when Best Buy noted a Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, in Thanksgiving ads because the two holidays fell close together, it took a lot of abuse from some segments of the population. The Globe writes that “Best Buy executives stood by their decision. The company saw the holiday greeting as part of a larger goal of reaching consumers from different cultures. Soon, Muslims started calling to thank Best Buy and set up a Facebook page honoring the company.”
KC's View:
People who confuse people who are Muslims with radical terrorists are making a mistake of ignorance. Some Muslims, to be sure, are terrorists. Some terrorists are Muslims. But not all terrorists are Muslim, nor are all Muslims terrorists. Some Muslims are actually patriotic Americans, just as some patriotic Americans are Muslim. (You’d think this would be self-evident, but some folks don’t get it.)

To ignore this rapidly growing consumer segment is to make a mistake that could have long-term repercussions.