It is ludicrous that with a spending power of around £30bn a year - income any food supplier would like a slice of - a whole consumer group and category is ignored: Muslims and halal foods. Few major brands cater for it and those that do stick to curry.
Ieat, a brand we helped launch this year, is bucking the trend, producing the UK’s first halal ready meals of British favourites - shepherd’s pie, chicken & leek pie, pizza etc. Its founder Shazia Saleem was frustrated she was not able to enjoy traditional British foods and so, in true British entrepreneurial spirit, created her own range and launched it in Sainsbury’s in March.
For brands to stay relevant and be attractive to the influential Generation Z audience, this ability to embrace multiple cultures is crucial. For Ieat, the strategy is built on insights into how modern culture is shaping the identity of British Muslims, particularly third-generation Muslims who have grown up in the UK and are more inclined to engage with other cuisines and behaviours while still wanting a relationship with their mother culture.
This group want to be part of the British food scene as much as everyone else. But while restaurants are catching up, retailers have been much slower. That needs to change.
Then there’s the communication piece. Educating the public about a new category is a daunting task. The brand needs to be clear about its audience; their desires, behaviours, purchase triggers. It also needs to realise that a new set of brand communications rules is needed for Muslims in 2014 - it’s not enough to be in Muslim newspapers or talked about at the mosque.
To fully reach this growing group, the brand needs to be more flexible and utilise a multitude of different channels including social media. As part of our communications campaign, locally targeted community PR and marketing went hand in hand with larger national messaging.
This strategic thinking should be followed by all manufacturers who are looking to tap into this new product category. It will help drive sales, revenue and, ultimately, profit.
Omaid Hiwaizi is chief strategy officer UK at Geometry Global