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 pretty 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.
The Muslim consumers globally have been the forgotten lot for 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 to take into account their needs in product development.
For the American businesses needing further evidence, DinarStandard's groundbreaking report on the 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, which had representatives from Walmart & Best Buy, highlighted how some of the 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 business re-look at their multi-cultural marketing strategies.
I had the privilege of being on a panel with Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Kamran Pasha ( Screenwriter & Director, Hollywood) & Maria Ebrahimji (Director & Executive Editorial Producer, CNN Worldwide). All them have been trailblazing unchartered territory. In the case of Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, his book "Green Deen" should make all of us realise our responsibility to protect the environment. It reminds us, that being environment conscious should be an integral part of being a Muslim consumer!
I had the opportunity as well to present what we do at Crescentrating for the first time to a US audience. It was really good to hear their positive reaction. The meetings I had with travel industry after the conference in New York City and Washington DC definitely gave me the impression that the travel industry there is open to look at 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 segment of the market. The Entrepreneur Showcase, which has now become a centrepiece of AMCC, gave the opportunity for 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 to go with. If all 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 the mainstream American businesses still be blinded by some of the prejudices and miss the train? In a more and more 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.