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Ramadan can spark local Islam-related consumer stories

August 5, 2013

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The celebration of the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month,  is coming up this week, and if you haven’t taken a look at the economic contribution of Muslim consumers and businesses in your community, this is a good opportunity.

Known as Eid al fitr, (sometimes spelled Eid ul fitr), the end of the daytime fasts required throughout Ramadan begins at sundown on Aug. 7 this year and ends the evening of Aug. 8 on many calendars, but be aware that its date is tied to lunar sightings; the Islamic Council of North America cites Aug. 8 as the start of Eid here in the United States; you would want to check with area Islamic religious leaders to ascertain dates observed in your area.

Eid al fitr is a fast-breaking holiday, a sacred day of prayer, feasting, visiting and fireworks, according to this recent article by the Arab-American News.  Like many religious holidays, it’s acquiring some commercial trappings — here’s a Pinterest page of entertaining and craft ideas for Eid, while sites like Zazzle, eBay, Etsy and Amazon sell Eid balloons and other party fare.

Note that the Arab-American News article points out some restaurants and bakeries offering Eid fare; you could start by checking with eateries in your area’s districts that cater to Islamic customers for any special promotions or offerings.  Also check with markets that serve Muslim customers; if you’re interested in a feature about the upswing in demand for halal food (prepared according to religious specifications), a feast-oriented holiday is a good peg.

Even if you’re in an agriculture area with, perhaps, a small Muslim population, don’t think there is no halal tie-in to your region.  According to this report, U.S. exports of halal beef rose 36 percent in 2011 to $355 million; you might contact your state’s agriculture department to get leads to halal producers in your region.

The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America has published guidelines for consumers in this Halal Shoppers Guide — the organization certifies halal food worldwide and may be able to point you to local food manufacturers and processors.    And here’s an interesting piece from The Economist about “Non-alcoholic beer taking off among Muslim consumers,” another angle to pursue locally.  And the website of the Muslim Consumer Group is a font of interesting information on topics ranging from halal vitamins to halal potato chips.  Who knew, for example, that foam cups are made using a lubricant based on animal tallow — and therefore not halal according to some authorities.

And it’s not just edibles that are governed by religious rules; I found a number of articles indicating that halal cosmetics and beauty products like nail polish are in growing demand by Islamic faithful; if you can find such a producer or purveyor in your area — from salons to perhaps an artisanal manufacturer — it would make for an interesting and informative small business profile.  Also, this Cosmetics Design article form July notes that big American companies like Avon and Colgate-Palmolive are formulating halal products for consumers in Muslim countries; if you have any large consumer goods makers in your region, time to check in with them about their plans both here and abroad.

Here’s an old but interesting AdWeek piece on “Marketing to Muslims.”  And for demographic information, check out this Pew demographic report on Muslim Americans.  And I also find the website of OgilvyNoor, which describes itself as an Islamic branding consultancy, very interesting reading.


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