Shazia Saleem, founder, ieat
I grew up always wanting to enjoy the British classics, but have struggled to find food in the supermarkets that meets my religious requirements and busy lifestyle. It was this that prompted me to spot a gap in the market to start ieat, which targets the rapidly growing Muslim community with halal-friendly, British cuisine ready meals.
According to Census data, Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the UK and half of this population is under the age of 30. This group also command £30bn of the UK’s wealth, so the lack of products in the marketplace came as a surprise. Particularly when it comes to food, many brands fail to understand the complex web of cultural and practical drivers impacting how British Muslims adhere to the Islamic codes around halal food and drink.
The needs of this demographic and its position and behaviour in British culture need to be unwrapped in more detail. With young Muslims in particular, they lead busy lives and are looking for an easy and convenient option, much like any other young person.
In addition, there is a deep-rooted motivation that such second and third-generation Muslims have: these consumers want to maintain the connection with their traditional culture, while also enjoying the British culture they grew up with. Marketers need to understand this balance of 21st century living and the role of religion from the start if they are to target these consumers effectively with the right products at the right moment.
We enlisted the help of Geometry Global and OgilvyNoor to launch ieat into selected Sainsbury’s stores. These two agencies helped ieat take its marketing to the next level by expanding its footprint to new channels where young Muslims are spending time and interacting with brands.
Omaid Hiwaizi, chief strategy officer, Geometry Global UK
Like any niche, the challenge when marketing to Muslims is to understand the group intimately, including the spectrum of diversity within as well as specific behaviours and triggers.
Muslim individuals stretch from those who would rather go hungry if it is not halal, to those who drink alcohol and eat pig flesh. Brands looking to target this sector need to develop deep insight to build a picture of the ways in which this group interact with brands and products, from the subtle triggers that influence purchasing to how these products and services exist in the context of their daily lives.
Marketers also face the issue of educating the community about new products and how to achieve this successfully. For example, when working for ieat, we are introducing an entirely new product category and showing young Muslim consumers how products can fit into their lives and meet their current needs.
It is crucial to encouraging consumers to choose new products when shopping, where normally they might avoid the ready-meal aisle altogether as they assume that these products do not cater to their religious requirements.
To reach this growing group on a national scale, addressing new styles and habits that this younger generation has adopted, brands need to be much more flexible in how they approach marketing.
As with Generation Z more generally, brands must adopt a wider range of touchpoints including social and mobile to ensure relevance, in conjunction with more traditional approaches.