Is online the new space for halal?
Malaysia - Following the recent report of a 'halal' Facebook, there are now plans to launch a 'halal' group-buying site.
Called Stardeals, the site is aimed to cater the growing middle-class Muslim segment and is set to launch end of March. When asked what sets Stardeals apart from other group-buying sites, Iskandar Ezzahuddin, CEO of Stardeal answered "personalisation".
"After registration, Stardeals will prompt its subscriber to choose product categories that interest them. For example, we have a halal and non-halal section which subscribers will be able to choose from. Once it's set, the person will not receive irrelevant deals," Ezzahuddin added.
Ezzahuddin said with the recent issue of halal certification in the news, many consumers have been confused and left wondering whether the products they have been consuming or using were indeed halal.
"This has caused much 'was-was' or uncertainty in the eyes of Muslims in Malaysia. Therefore, producers of goods and services that are Jakim-certified are increasingly looking for ways to publicise their products," he said, adding that Stardeal provides a quick avenue for brands to shout about their halal products.
Although Ezzahuddin could not disclose the brands that have come onboard, he shared that restaurants and food companies were most eager to run their deals on the site. "This is because Muslims, in general, are very picky when it comes to food, but do not have time to conduct verification checks on the legitimacy of halal certification," he says.
Apart from Stardeal, The New Straits Times reported earlier this week on a new ‘halal' social networking site similar to Facebook called Salamworld, which is set to debut in July.
With the increase in the number of 'halal' platforms, is this good news for brands? And how can they leverage on this? A+M asked Shelina Janmohamed, the London-based senior strategist at Ogilvy Noor, the Muslim brand-building arm Ogilvy & Mather.
Janmohamed shared that based on their research, they have identified a segment of consumers known as 'futurists', who are both tech-savvy and brand conscious.
These ‘futurists' the internet to empower themselves and to support their choices through research about the products they wish to purchase. They connect with like-minded peers to exchange information, and to form a trusted circle of brands.
"The futurist Muslims combine their aspiration to uphold their faith, with rigorous standards from the businesses with which they engage. This means that they warm to brands that deliver their halal needs, but this comes with no trade-off with quality: they are not willing to accept substandard products or communications," added Janmohamed.
Janmohamed said the increasing number of halal platforms like Salamworld and Stardeal is a reflection of a growing trend of developing new channels to engage with the growing Muslim consumer market.
Based on their research, the internet and social media are key tools with which Muslim consumers are empowering themselves.
"They use these tools to research brands and products. They use them to compare notes with their peers. Through them, they create segments across geographies and cultures, bound by their shared Muslim values.
Muslim consumers tend to show collectivist behaviours - feeling that it is a duty to share information about products with their peers. The internet and social media enable them to do this quickly and widely."
As for brands, she added, the internet and social media provide an opportunity for them to engage rather than talk at Muslim consumers who are particularly sensitive to being treated with respect, and as a community.
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- Ogilvy and Mather
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