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The emerging Halal cosmetic and personal care market

halal cosmetic.jpgMALAYSIA, March 03, 2012 - At a time when many markets are reaching saturation point, Muslims are becoming much more concerned consumers, creating some of the fastest growing consumer segments in the world. This represents a major growth opportunity for cosmetic and personal care companies.


Halal products are very quickly entering the mainstream markets within Europe and the United States.



In addition the ‘Halal’ concept is becoming much more sophisticated in the Middle East and some Asian countries. Muslim consumer Halal awareness has widened from being concerned with meat-based products a decade ago to a wide range of products today. Muslim consumers are seeking Halal integrity of processed foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, insurance, travel, leather products, and even entertainment. This has also spread to a growing awareness about cosmetics and personal care products, where recent research has cited that more than 20% of Muslim consumers are concerned about Halal issues with the products they are using.


Halal personal care products in the market today include hair shampoos, conditioners, bath and shower gels, cleansers, creams, lotions, talc and baby powders, toners, make up, perfumes, eau de colognes and oral care products. In contrast to personal care, cosmetic market growth is not uniform and slightly slower than personal care segments, as modesty has an important influence on Muslim female consumers. However this varies according to the country and upbringing where some women wear a full length style robe and veil while others do not.




Market size. There are various estimates about the current size of the Halal cosmetic market ranging from US$5-14 billion sales per year. These estimates probably vary due to the different definitions given to what constitute Halal products, where in some markets, particularly in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, all products have been considered Halal due to their predominately Muslim populations. About half these sales are in the Middle East, with US$2.1 billion sales in Saudi Arabia alone.


Although per-capita consumption rates are not as high in other Islamic markets, sales are growing around 15% per annum according to the author’s own estimate. Halal or Islamic cosmetics are now available in many places, including onboard sales on Saudi Airlines, supermarkets (including in Europe and the US), specialty Halal shops and widely through the internet. Some manufacturers have integrated the concepts of Halal, organic and fairtrade into their products in the European market.


Given that one person in five is Muslim in the world and Muslims in Western countries are becoming more aware of Islamic teachings, the Halal cosmetic market should continue to grow solidly. There are two major parts of the potential certified Halal market, country markets where the Muslim population make up the majority and country markets where Muslim consumers are a minority group. This represents around 20% of the global population.


The markets vary greatly in the stage of development and are relatively heterogeneous due to differing individual country tastes and preferences, although specific markets will tend to be homogeneous due to similar cultural, historical and social consumption traits.


Markets like Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Iraq, Sudan, Uzbekistan etc., have low per capita incomes, where aggregate consumption of many consumer items would be very low, until some further development takes place. Despite the relative affluence of the UAE and other Arab Gulf States, in some cases supply chains are still typically third world. In Asia, rural and urban populations have vastly differing aspirations and values, and South Asian Muslims speak a multitude of different languages and practice different customs. We also see the Muslims of Northern Africa are vastly different in dress and custom from the Muslims of Turkey and Iran for example.


Some Muslims identify more strongly with Western values than others, therefore different markets will have different needs.




Niche markets. The major countries where the Muslim population is the minority are also potentially substantial markets for Halal certified products, representing large market segment potentials. The US, Russia, China, France and Germany rank among the top Islamic economies according to aggregate Islamic GDP figures. Recent reports indicate that Halal sales in the US are increasing around 80% per year, where a number of new retail outlets specialising in Halal products are increasing.


A&P, Loblaws, Food Basics and Wal-Mart are allocating space for Halal products in their stores. However, in Europe and the

Middle East, per capita consumption of cosmetics is high.8 Possibilities exist that in some countries there may be

potentially lucrative niches.


There is one important point that should be made here. Islam has no geographical boundaries, thus diversity  rather than homogeneity is the key to this market where faith is the only common bonding factor. Even as Muslims lean towards Western style consumption and lifestyles, they are embracing their faith with much more reverence than perhaps previous generations that had to struggle to survive.


Muslim obligation under the Tawhid (the relationship between man and God) is something that enters into everyday life and as a consequence, Muslim consumers are seeking products and services that are Syar’iah compliant (the path shown by God). However on the other hand, some research shows that approximately 20% of Muslim consumers do not look for Halal certifications when purchasing a product and that the majority of consumers will buy products that do not have the logo if there are no alternatives.


More research is required in this area. Central to the Syar’iah are the concepts of Halal and Toyyibaan, which govern all the economic activities of man in production and consumption of wealth, where certain means of gaining a livelihood are declared unlawful. Halal means lawful or permitted for Muslims, a concept that is much wider than food issues. It concerns whether operations and procedures are undertaken according to the Syar’iah.


Toyyibaan is an even wider concept than Halal, which means good, clean, wholesome, ethical in the Islamic concept. Under the concept of Toyyibaan, food and other products must be clean, safe, nutritious, healthy and balanced. Toyyibaan would also mean that agriculture must be undertaken within a sustainable regime of practices, raw materials should be produced sustainably, and business should be done with good intentions.


Therefore in the strict sense of these concepts, Toyyibaan influences management styles, human resources policies, business ethics, raw material selection, and manufacturing methods. This means that entering the Islamic market requires a company to take a holistic approach to comply, not just the launch of a new product or brand.


Increasing market internationalisation means that new product choices are available to consumers from companies and service providers which consumers do not know and are yet to trust. Many products utilise animal based product formulations, which may or may not have been slaughtered according to Islamic law. This causes much uneasiness among many Muslims as they feel they are violating Islamic teachings by using such products. In addition, through advances in biotechnology, new ingredients are being formulated into products where Halal status is unknown. It is important to the majority of the Muslim community that some system is in place to assure them that the products they purchase and consume are lawful under Islam.




Forbidden ingredients. There are a number of ingredients which Muslims cannot consume in any form, which include:  - Pork or pork by-products.

- Animals that are dead or dying prior to slaughter.

- Blood and blood by-products.

- Carnivorous animals.

- Birds of prey.

- Land animals without external ears.

- Alcohol.

- Animals killed in the name of anything other than Allah (God).


Muslims living as a minority in a non-Islamic society have a number of problems identifying what items are Halal and Haram

(forbidden in Islam), without product certification. For example, gelatine, lard and tallow can be either Halal or non-Halal, depending upon the source and method of processing. Cross contamination is a major problem in stores and particularly restaurants where pork is also served.


Therefore from the Muslim consumer standpoint:

- Products must be produced without any forbidden ingredients.

- Products must be proved to be in the interests of the consumers’ health and wellbeing.

- Products must be clean and hygienic, have supply chain integrity.

- Products must benefit those who produced them.

- Products must benefit the community they came from.

- Products and the materials that make up these products must be traceable from the origin, to have total confidence

- An emerging industry of Halal certification has been created to attempt to verify these issues.


Methods of discovering ‘Haram impurities’ in products are rapidly improving. Now the type of animals raw materials are derived from can be identified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which greatly improves the potential for Halal integrity, allowing the development of Halal supply chains and product tracking.


The Halal certification process involves:


- Halal accreditation should be done with an Islamic Association with a good international reputation.

- All processes must comply with requirements under the Syar’iah.

- All ingredients must be checked as to their suitability to be certified Halal. All ingredients must be certified Halal before the product can be certified Halal.

- Any Haram (unlawful products) must be processed in separate facilities and never come into contact with Halal

certifiable products.

- Halal and products considered Haram can never be stored together.


Thailand is taking the lead with their world class Halal Science centre at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok established in 1994. The centre focuses on developing standards, Haram ingredient detection for certification purposes, production system development with a Halal-GMP/HACCP framework, and consumer information services as well as research. The Halal centre has recently developed a completely integrated approach to Halal integrity through a supply chain integration system with a positive Halal ingredient list, a procurement and manufacturing procedure certification and supply chain tracking system called HALQ, converging GMP, HACCP, Halal, and Toyyibaan into a single set of procedures. These advances will solve many Halal integrity issues now allowing much easier world trade with a trusted certification and tracking system.



Conclusion. In a world that is becoming more spiritually conscious, awareness of Halal cosmetics is still low within the Muslim community. Muslim consumers are increasing in affluence and beginning to focus upon their religious obligations that demand for Halal cosmetics is set to increase exponentially. Muslim consumers would be expected to exhibit strong loyalty to trusted Halal and Toyyibaan certified products over noncompliant products based on behaviour in other Muslim markets. In addition to Syar’iah compliance, Halal products will require brand building. However, how this will be done within an industry depending on glamour as a brand attribute to an overly modest set of consumers, still remains to be seen.


Halal issues involved with cosmetics and personal care products are far from being totally agreed upon and without skeptical criticisms. For example, there are different schools of thought about whether Islamic teachings prohibit alcohol use on the body outside oral consumption. Not all Muslims are in agreement over this as many of the blogs and comments at the end of online articles show.


As we have seen with the ‘Arab Spring’, Muslims in many countries are now engaging in debate about what form of society and government they should have in the future, where interpretation of religious doctrine and openness to outside influences are being redefined as we write. There is little doubt that the control of outside influences will be less than before as satellite TV and the internet are being freed up. How this equates to the future demand of cosmetics and awareness about composition is yet to be fully known.


However one thing is certain, the Muslim market will gradually represent 15%-20% of the total market – something that cannot be ignored.


As a final word, the objective of this article was to skim through some of the issues related to the market, supply chain, and ethical issues concerning Halal cosmetics and personal care products in the market today. The intention of the author is to point out that another new and potentially substantial market segment is growing and should be taken seriously, not necessarily for market positioning purposes, but at least for consideration in ingredient selection and product certification.




Written by Murray Hunter



Centre for Communication & Entrepreneurship / University Malaysia Perlis 

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