Cosmetic retailers in the west have underestimated the strength of the halal cosmetics industry. Understanding the economic impact Muslim women have in the world and their value to global economies can be broken down into some very simple numbers. In an article by Saadia Zahidi (Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society) titled Working Muslim Women are a Trillion-Dollar Market, she highlights some very interesting facts that many large cosmetics retailers in the west may have overlooked.
Who has the Global Market Share on Halal Cosmetics?
Simply put, the halal cosmetics market is estimated be worth over 50 Billion dollars by 2025. The majority of this market share is held by countries in the Asia Pacific – approximately 75%. The remaining 25% is shared by Central and South America (which holds about two thirds of the remaining market share) and North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (hold the other third combined). So why is it that large cosmetics retailers in the west like Sephora, Ulta Beauty, or Blue Mercury have not taken a leading role in bringing these high demand products to their stores here in Canada and the US?
Let’s start with this eye-opening statistic from Zahidi’s article - One in ten of us on the planet is a Muslim woman. There are 800 million in total, and that’s more than the combined populations of the United States, Russia and Brazil. In fact, there are already more working women across the Muslim world than there are in the US or Europe.
More Muslim Women are Getting Higher Education
Muslim women are coming out ahead of men today in higher education globally. More women by percentage are enrolling in universities and colleges compared to men. This growth of higher education is even more pronounced in countries in south Asia as well as the South Asian Pacific. There are at least five countries where, among students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, women outnumber men. So what does this mean for the cosmetics industry? Considering that development of cosmetics and skin care products has changed drastically over the past twenty years, more women are becoming aware of the science behind the beauty industry. Or in many cases, the ugly side of the beauty industry. More women today are demanding clean products that minimize or eliminate harmful chemicals and toxins. For those of us in the halal nail polish industry, Muslim women are more educated now about the science of water permeability and are less likely to be fooled by marketing tactics of “breathable” brand polishes. Women have also taken a stronger stance against the beauty industry and demanded cosmetics that are ethically made and tested. This particular aspect of ethical cosmetic manufacturing gives Canadian and US companies an advantage in the market as government regulations provide stricter manufacturing guidelines and ensure higher quality cosmetics.
More Working Women Means More Demand for Halal Cosmetics
In her article, Zahidi also mentions that almost Fifty million women have joined the workforce for the first time since the turn of the millennium. Just after the turn of the millennium, there were around 100 million working women in the Muslim world's emerging markets. Today, that number has swelled to nearly 155 million, a 50% increase in just 15 years. This means that more women now have access to disposable income and will spend their hard earned money on some of the best products they can find. However, if the products they want (in this case halal cosmetics) are not locally available, retailers lose out on a huge opportunity to provide accessibility to a massive customer demographic. Yes, women can purchase their halal cosmetics online, but women also want the “experience” of shopping for their favourite halal lipstick, eye shadow, or Tuesday in Love nail polish at their nearest Sephora or Ulta Beauty. The sounds, smells, and in person experience of a beautiful cosmetics store is a delight on its own and an experience that can’t be recreated online.
Why Self Care is Important to Muslim Women
It’s also important to consider that many working women also carry the responsibility of the household more than their male counterparts. We often forget that working moms, wives, and family caregivers are not paid for the high stress work they do outside of their work lives. Therefore, products such as halal skin care, makeup, and nail polish play a special role in providing an opportunity for self-care and much needed down time for the working woman. Once again, large retail outlets play an important part in the accessibility of such products and environment for women to enjoy themselves and reward themselves for the long hours they work both inside and outside the home.
Finally, if the above stats don’t impress you, think about this. According to Zahidi, their combined earnings would make Muslim women the world’s 16th richest country. Working women and their disposable income represent a huge new market, with earnings that amount to nearly $1 trillion. The new generation of working women are worldly and digitally connected. They are tapping into and creating new demand in a wide variety of fields, from education, health and food to finance, fashion and IT. If equal participation in the workforce were achieved, Muslim countries could add another $5.7 trillion to their income.
Despite these staggering statistics and financial incentives, there still remains one very important reason that large retailers here in the west need to recognize and consider – Inclusivity. Although we are beginning to see representation of Muslim women (wearing hijab) in commercials, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their consumer needs are being met. If a Muslim woman sees a picture of a model wearing a hijab on a storefront, but the store itself doesn’t carry any halal brands, there’s a good chance that it will be interpreted as “misrepresentation”.
Also, inclusivity isn’t just about the customers, it’s also about the businesses and entrepreneurs who have created products for these customers and need larger platforms to help them grow. By supporting small businesses and niche markets, large cosmetics retailers not only have the opportunity to grow their customer base, but also introduce other products to new customers that may have not even considered their benefits.