Halal Chicken from Crescent Foods is now available at over 70 Walmart stores, Frozen Halal meals from Saffron Road are available at Whole Foods stores across America, Supermarket chains Pathmark and retail giants Best Buy wish us “Eid Mubarak” and “Ramadan Mubarak” in their marketing brochures. One of the world’s biggest advertising agencies, Ogilvy & Mather launched Ogilvy Noor offering Islamic Branding services. All these developments have happened over the last 4 years.
When we started to float the concept of the American Muslim Consumer Conference (AMCC) back in 2008 amongst Muslim communities, we would get a blank stare. It was a challenge for us to explain that American Muslims had a buying power which had grown to almost $170B and that it was now time for us to establish a platform which can create more awareness in the media and mainstream companies. We also felt that we could help to support smaller businesses trying to engage with the needs of the Muslims.
We started to craft a vision for AMCC and, after few round of discussions and consultations, the AMCC vision was established: Understand and address the needs of American Muslim Consumers and promote businesses and entrepreneurs who are developing products and services for this market.
Since its launch in October 2008, there is so much we have learned about this market and now have so much to share. As a common American Muslim Consumer, we would have missed out and never have had the opportunity to establish that connection.
This connection is between many entrepreneurs and many organizations that have been working to address the unique needs of American Muslims. Organizations like the Muslim Consumer Group that does extensive research to provide information whether ingredients used in food products available in supermarkets are Halal or not. Organizations like Halal Advocates of America, Islamic Services of America, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, Pure Halal Center who all provide Halal certification services.
Companies like Crescent Foods, Midamar, Saffron Road, and Al Safa are pioneers in manufacturing Halal Food and are working with both neighborhood stores and supermarkets to make their products available nationwide. Although their products are not yet available in all supermarkets, in the last three to four much progress has been made. Walking through the aisles of many supermarket chains, the word Halal is no longer a strange sight.
Young entrepreneurial companies have also emerged like Noor Kids who are developing products for children which make Islamic education fun and exciting, Noor Vitamins with Halal vitamins, JaanJ which designs non-silk Halal vegan ties, Amara Cosmetics who have developed an entire range of Halal cosmetic products, and LittleBigKids which offers a wide range of culturally and religiously inspired products for kids. Each year, the list of products and companies just keeps growing.
Islamic Finance companies like Amana Mutual Funds, University Islamic Financial, Iman Fund, Guidance Residential and Ijara Loans are offering many Sharia-compliant financial products. And while Muslims in America have not yet embarked completely on the concept of Islamic Finance, as they do not see much difference between conventional banking and Islamic Finance companies, significant progress is being made year by year.
Today there is a fast growing and diverse set of media and forums that enable access to the American Muslim market. From fast growing online networks such as Zabihah.com, Illumemag.com, Islamicity.com andElanthemag.com to publications such as Azizah magazine(for American Muslim women) and various regional newspapers. A variety of media are fast maturing with captive audiences that reflect the full fabric of American Muslim society and are becoming popular in bringing issues of American Muslims in the forefront.
Journalists like Carla Power from Time Magazine and Paul Barrett from BusinessWeek have written extensively about the upcoming American Muslim Market; big advertising giant, Ogilvy & Mather has an entire division advocating the Muslim Market and they have all been active participants in the past AMCC conferences.
All these developments are good for the growing Muslim Community. This platform still needs to be developed further to enable more interaction and exchange between entrepreneurs and businesses developing products and services for this market catering to American Muslims.
Over the years, AMCC has created a valuable arena for the relaxed exchange of ideas and activities between the Muslim and non-Muslim business communities with diverse cultural backgrounds. Common ground and shared interests have emerged in an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance, and this all helps to confirm the value – economic, social and spiritual – of the Muslim community in the USA.
There can be little doubt that over the coming years, American Muslims will make increasingly significant contributions through their entrepreneurial and commercial activities. A new generation with fresh ideas about business, media, trade and finance will bring a new vision, nurtured by their faith, and forged by the needs and realities of life in America. We plan to be a part of that.
The 4th annual American Muslim Consumer Conference will be held on Saturday, November 17th at DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton at Newark Airport, Newark, New Jersey, USA. This year’s conference theme is “The New Face of Muslim Consumers”, which will analyze and discuss the market as a group of socially conscious, innovative, and engaged consumers.