The Muslim population is projected to reach 3 billion people in 2060, increasing at a growth rate faster than the world’s population and set to make up 31% of total population. As their consumer affluence becomes more prevalent, this demographic has become key for certain retail brands trying to grab market share.

In Southeast Asia, where 25% of the global Muslim population lives (1.6 billion), the young female Muslims, also known as Muslimah, present a new opportunity with their religious yet more worldly outlook than the previous generation.

This influential, trend watching group is open to a wider range of fashion, travel and product choices — prompting the Halal industry to move beyond the food sector.

Southeast Asian Muslim preference

Other sectors quickly catching up in Halal industry. Source: Global Islamic Finance Report


“Young Muslim women are showing a new set of aspirations and behaviors which represent both opportunities and challenges for brands,” said Chen May Yee, APAC director at The Innovation Group

But they also present new challenges and to better target this tech-savvy audience, companies need to combine trends, digital channels while meeting religious requirements.

Muslimah representation matters

A recent survey by JWT Intelligence’s Innovation Group focused on the Muslimah population in Indonesia and Malaysia, two of the biggest Muslim populations in the region, found that Japanese brands are regarded the highest among the 1,000 individuals surveyed.

Japanese brands are the most popular among Muslimah in Indonesia and Malaysia compared to brands from other countries. Source: JWT Intelligence’s Innovation Group

It’s not too surprising given that more Japanese brands have geared marketing efforts towards the Muslim population, especially in fashion and beauty.

For example, Uniqlo recently collaborated with Muslim designer Hana Tajima and while textile brand Fukusa launched a silk-kimono hijabi fashion line in Indonesia.

Clothing remains the most popular category, followed by beauty, technology products, travel, and groceries.

Southeast Asian Muslim preference

More Indonesian Muslimah shop online as local players provide more options for them. Source: JWT Intelligence’s Innovation Group, Daniel Abd Halim.

As with the rest of the region, this demographic is showing a higher aptitude towards digital. They are spending at least four hours online every day, and one of the activities of choice is online shopping.

24% of Malaysian Muslimah shop online once a week and 56% do it at least once a month. The number is higher for their Indonesian counterpart, likely because of more Muslim choices provided by local players in Indonesia like HijUp, MuslimMarket, and Wardah.

However, the two cohorts differ on their opinion regarding representation in the ads that circulate in the market. Majority of Muslimah in Indonesia (82%) feel that the ads reflect the reality of the needs of their everyday life, while only 56% of Malaysian Muslimah feel the same — showing the gap for brands to provide more relatable products or experiences for this audience in Malaysia.

Tapping into a multi-trillion industry

The Halal or “lawful/permissible” industry is estimated to be worth around $2.3 trillion worldwide, growing at an annual rate of 20%. The products are not only for Muslims and also gaining more popularity among non-Muslims as a symbol of quality assurance and a lifestyle choice, but in order to capture more customers, brands need to be more than Halal.

Recognizing that Muslims have different experiences and reasons to purchase such as increase in shopping for household or beauty goods during certain holidays, brands can optimize marketing strategies to attract more loyal customers.