With American Muslim Consumers spending approaching USD 125 billion, for businesses not to take a serious look at this segment will not be in the best interest of their shareholders. This was evident at the 3rd edition of the American Muslim Consumers Conference (AMCC). It was also obvious that AMCC is on a pioneering path to build itself as the premier platform to bring all stakeholders to facilitate the development of this segment in the US.
Muslim consumers globally have been forgotten a lot by many mainstream companies. If the Pew Research report "The Future of the Global Muslim Population," released in January 2011, is anything to go by, it will be a huge mistake for businesses to continue turning a blind eye. According to this report, there will be a dramatic shift in the demographic profile of most business's next generation of consumers, with Muslim consumers becoming a major part of the equation. The important question this raises is, in the medium to long term, can businesses survive if they continue not considering their needs in product development?
For American businesses needing further evidence, DinarStandard's groundbreaking report on American Muslim Consumers, a summary of which Rafi-uddin Shikoh presented at the conference, is the place to start. This will allow both big and small businesses to re-think their business and marketing strategies to address the needs of the growing American Muslim consumers.
The first-panel discussion at the conference, with representatives from Walmart & Best Buy, highlighted how some mainstream American businesses are already adopting their services and products to cater to all segments of the diverse US consumer base. The thoughts shared by Camille Conley from Monitor Insights, who was on the panel, should make all businesses re-look at their multicultural marketing strategies.
I was on a panel with Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Kamran Pasha (Screenwriter and director, Hollywood) & Maria Ebrahimji (Director and executive Editorial Producer, CNN Worldwide). All of them have been trailblazing unchartered territory. In the case of Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, his book "Green Deen" should make all of us realize our responsibility to protect the environment. It reminds us that being environment-conscious should be integral to being a Muslim consumer!
I had the opportunity to present what we do at Crescentrating for the first time to a US audience. It was really good to hear their positive reaction. My meetings with the travel industry after the conference in New York City and Washington DC gave me the impression that the travel industry there is open to developing this special interest market segment.
The other exciting feature of this event is the presence at the conference of very enthusiastic entrepreneurs. You cannot but get excited by the energy and passion they show to build new businesses to cater to this market segment. The Entrepreneur Showcase, now a centerpiece of AMCC, allowed some of them to present their vision and plans. The four companies who presented all had very interesting products. ModernEid was one of them, which I thought had an interesting and simple idea with a great name. If all of them continue to be passionate about what they are trying to do and persevere with their plans, there is no reason why they should not succeed in building sustainable businesses.
Overall, what AMCC this year has managed to highlight is now you have research reports, experts, entrepreneurs, and platforms to help businesses re-align products and services to target this community. The question is, will mainstream American businesses still be blinded by some prejudices and miss the train? In a increasingly globalized market where consumers have plenty of options, it will be costly not to target the Dollars that this segment is willing to part with, albeit under certain conditions.