In its third annual American Muslim Consumer Conference, and despite the threat of the first snowfall of the season, the conference was packed. In my third year to attend I felt a great kinship with everyone at the conference, not because they were all Muslim – because they were not – nor because we were all there to discuss the same topic, but because we were all privy to the fact that the US Muslim Market is a large segment with a lot of untapped potential that everyone but a few were ignoring.
What was amazing was that true to this year’s focus on multiculturalism and diversity, the speakers, panelists and participating companies were as diverse as Muslim consumer needs. There were companies from food industry to companies in hospitality, education, skincare, technology and fashion; from large corporations to small startups; from participants who were local from New Jersey, like myself; to others who came all the way from California, and even from as far as the Singapore, to attend.
I enjoyed the insights shared in the sessions. The panelists in a session entitled “Segmenting the Multicultural Market for Targeting Precision”, included Gwen Kelly, Senior Marketing Director at Walmart; Manny Palomo, Strategic Marketing & Communications Direct at Best Buy; Tariq Farid, Founder & CEO of Edible Arrangements; as well as representative from the Futures Company and Oglivy and Mather. The speakers shared insights on their approach to the Hispanic and African American markets and how we can apply the same methods to the Muslim Market.
In the afternoon panel, led by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of the best seller Green Deen, humor and insights went hand in hand. Panelists from industries as diverse as filmmaking and travel – represented by Fazal Bahardeen, Founder & CEO of Crescentrating.com (the world’s first travel portal, dedicated to Halal conscious travelers) – shared their experience with the Muslim consumer market.
At the conference, DinarStandard released a groundbreaking Muslim consumer needs report entitled American Muslim Market 2011: Business Landscape & Consumer Needs Study. The study reports the findings of a first of its kind nationwide American Muslim Consumer Advocacy Survey and regional interviews with community leaders and influencers. It also estimates the market size by industry and includes market size by demographics including state, education, age, etc. Senior Marketing Manager at Wal-Mart, Gwen Kelly, said the study included the facts and figures that proved the importance of this segment and should be in front of all Fortune 500 companies.
I look forward to another strong conference in 2012 and to once again seeing familiar faces in addition to seeing even more mainstream companies who are finally starting to “get it” and realize the power of the Muslim consumer market as a segment that shouldn’t be ignored.