LONDON: Brand owners which actively serve Muslim consumers stand to gain entry into a global market worth over $2tr, but may be required to tackle a range of complex challenges.

Shelina Janmohamed, vice president of Ogilvy Noor, a consultancy specialising in Islamic branding, wrote in the Financial Times that the Muslim consumer market can be valued at $2.1tr worldwide.

"With 1.8bn Muslims around the world, a shift to younger demographics in Muslim nations and economic poles moving to those regions, any brand not considering how to reach Muslim consumers is, frankly speaking, behind the curve," she added.

More specifically, Janmohamed asserted that making halal products which meet the requirements of Islamic law should be a priority, especially for packaged food manufacturers and quick-service restaurant chains.

"For those brands who are serious and have the global reach, it is worth considering creating their own halal label," she continued.

"By building halal into their brand promise and protecting its sanctity, they will have a unique differentiator with the consumer. And even more significantly, they will find a place deep in the heart of the Muslim consumer."

Some 65% of the Muslim population currently reside in Asia, meaning nations from Brunei and Malaysia to the Philippines and Thailand are attempting to establish their credentials for manufacturing halal products.

Many Middle Eastern countries are also rapidly making progress here. They frequently draw upon the fact that the region is the "traditional heartland of the Muslim world" in doing so, Janmohamed said.

"Both in terms of trade and in consumers' eyes, countries first need to establish their credibility as suppliers of halal products, meat or otherwise," she continued.

Such issues are not without complications, however. One recent example is the outbreak of violence among some Buddhists in Sri Lanka after the government announced plans to launch a halal certification programme.

Potentially, this idea would have helped "establish a place for the country's products in the growing world halal economy", Janmohamed said, but it was ultimately withdrawn due to the unrest.

KFC, the fast-food chain, also faced vocal opposition when attempting to open halal branches in the UK. McDonald's, its rival, already applies a strict halal policy in some Indian regions, but not all.

"Countries and brands vying for early-mover status need to negotiate all of these various political challenges," Janmohamed said. "While the civic and political implications of this are for governments to deal with, it raises a wider issue for brands that want to label their products as halal."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff