Marketing Trends : An Unusual Perspective
Nowadays, if we search on the web about marketing trends, we get back 240 million results. That’s a fantastic job done by Google in just 0.75 seconds. Browsing through the results that this search produces is, however, a very frustrating experience. Besides facing overused titles like “Marketing trends that will disrupt your business”, “Key marketing trends”, “Must read marketing changes” or “Marketing trends and predictions”, there is another pattern in these results. Every trend is about digital content, storytelling, e-mail or social media marketing as if there isn’t anything else in the world besides smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Fortunately, markets are still made of people and luckily there is marketing beyond digital.
On the 11th of July, the United Nations celebrates the World Population Day. A brief look at the numbers reveals that in 2017 we are 7.6 billion inhabitants and this number is expected to grow to 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. However, the population growth is not homogeneous on the planet. Statistics reveal a low growth or stagnation in the West and a very high population growth in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Additionally, this population growth is very significant among Hindu and Muslim populations and low among Christian populations. In a recent article published in the Guardian, it is stated that “Between 2010 and 2015, an estimated 31% of babies born in the world were to Muslim parents, far exceeding the 24% share of the world’s population held by Muslims. In the same period, 33% of the world’s babies were born to Christians, only slightly higher than their 31% share of the global population”.
One of the fastest growing population groups in the world is Muslims. According to the Pew Research Center, the world’s estimated Muslim population in 2010 was 1.6 billion and the projected Muslim population in 2030 is almost 2.2 billion, of which 60% will live in the Asian-Pacific region, 20% in the Middle-East and North-Africa, 18% in the Sub-Saharan Africa, 2.7% in Europe and 0.5% in the Americas.
As such, when discussing marketing trends, these demographic changes are the detonators of the most impacting trends in the world markets, more than technology, digital or social media themselves.
It is common knowledge that travel and tourism are some of the World’s Largest Industries and also some of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. A recent report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council shows that the global Travel & Tourism contributes with USD 7.6 trillion to the world GDP, 292 million jobs worldwide, and 30% of total services exports.
One of the fastest growing market segments in the travel industry is the Muslim travel market, which has great potential not only for destinations, businesses but also for travel-related entities, besides being among the world’s highest spending tourist markets. This growth and spending capacity come at a price. To attract them it is vital to meet the needs of this market segment. Welcome to the Halal Tourism Market.
The numbers are stunning. A recent publication of “Crescent Rating”, a MasterCard initiative that studies Muslim Tourism, estimated that in 2016 there were 121 million Muslim international travellers and a projected growth to 156 million in 2020, accounting for USD 220 billion spending, with an expected growth to 300 billion in 2026. A similar trend can be found on Halal Food, Muslim fashion and Wellness.
Among the key factors that justify the growth of the Muslim travel market, besides population growth, Crescent Rating identifies the growth of Muslim middle classes not only in the Gulf countries but also in Malaysia, Indonesia and Western countries. Additionally, the Muslim population is young, with easy access to travel information and also increasingly internationally minded.
As stated before, all this comes at a price. To become an attractive Muslim destination (country, city or hotel facility), authorities and investors have to develop a Muslim Tourism environment, including activities, relaxation and entertainment, by applying Islamic Principles.
A large amount of research is being done by companies and academia to model Islamic Principles and apply them to tourism. As usual, there is controversy among researchers and Islamic Law Experts. Despite this controversy, there is some consensus that the Halal Tourism offers have to include some elements, such as certified Halal Food, and in some cases prohibition of non-Halal foods, prayer facilities that include Azan pronouncement in public, Qiblah direction, prayer facilities in the hotel and sites, prayer time indication, respect of prayer times and easy access to a Mosque. It is also necessary that the site or hotel respects general Islamic Morality, namely entertainment activities, in some cases segregation of service for Male and Female, Islamic dress code, prohibition of drinking alcohol, Halal Tour activities and breaks for prayers, Islamic artefacts, Islamic Arts and Architecture. For example, in a scientific article published two years ago, Mohamed Battour and Mohd Ismail gave the example of a “Halal friendly” hotel, the Aerostar Hotel in Moscow. This hotel has Halal-certified kitchens, soap and shampoo. It provides a copy of the Koran in all rooms, as well as a prayer mat and signs with directions to Qibla (Mecca). The hotel also has separate prayer rooms for men and women.
From a marketing perspective, focusing on this type of market segments is, in many cases, a tough decision to make and also challenging to put it in practice. This is a good example of how businesses cannot be everything for everybody. There a choice to be made: “be something to somebody”. Nevertheless, in such a highly competitive environment, it is interesting to identify trends and opportunities in very attractive market segments.
One last message for marketing students: These permanent changes in the global business environment are the most prolific source of opportunities and, therefore, have to be under the permanent scrutiny of marketing managers.
MA Marketing Course Leader
LSDM – London School of Design and Marketing