Wunderman Thompson Launches New Muslim Consumer Report

Wunderman Thompson Launches New Muslim Consumer Report

Across Southeast Asia today, generations of Muslims are living vastly different lives than their parents did, shaped by two potent forces: a resurgence of faith and the spread of Western-style consumerism.

Today Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, in collaboration with VMLY&R Malaysia’s Muslim Intel Lab, launched an in-depth research report into the identity and lives of the 250 million Muslims who live in Southeast Asia, as well as an exploration of the consumer change in a single generation. It highlights a change where Muslim-influenced consumerism has gone from being mostly about food—primarily avoiding pork and alcohol—to include fashion, banks, travel, and education, as well as personal spending, investment, or donations.

The New Muslim Consumer (which you can read in full HERE) report explores the traits of the next wave of Muslim consumerism, why they’re important for brands to consider, and also pitfalls to avoid. This includes case studies across modest fashion, Sharia fintech, Muslim dating apps, Halal travel and women’s rights, as well as findings from a survey of 1,000 consumers in Indonesia and Malaysia, conducted in May 2022 by SONAR.

“Muslim consumers are increasingly overlaying their religious beliefs on purchase decisions, and how they do so is constantly evolving. New technologies bring new questions – for example, is the metaverse halal?” said Chen May Yee, APAC Director for Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. “Our report explores all this and also notes that not everything needs a halal stamp. In fact, consumers recognize tokenism when they see it.”

Safa Arshadullah, writer and researcher at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence APAC added: “Southeast Asia is more than just a Muslim market—it’s a testing ground for the newest global trends. What happens here inspires Muslims around the world to consistently intertwine faith and function in innovative ways.”


Identity and religious observance: Islam is a significant part of daily life and becoming more so.

– Spirituality is most important in life with 91 per cent say having a strong relationship with Allah is very important, on par with health (91 per cent) and followed closely by family (89 per cent). Only 34 per cent say wealth is very important, 28 per cent rate following their passions as very important, and 12 per cent cite fame

– 33 per cent say they are more observant than their parents were at their age, 45 per cent say they are just as observant, and just 21 per cent say they are less observant

Gender roles and responsibilities: While most households continue to be male-led, Muslim women are continuing to advocate for more equality inside and outside the home.

– Females are breadwinners in a significant minority of households with 42% saying they provide the most financial support in their household

– 71 per cent of men say they decide on large purchases while women have more sway over daily purchases and holiday destinations

Halal consumer: Muslim consumers will increasingly look for a halal lifestyle.

– Halal is the most important factor when buying any product. 91 per cent of respondents say halal is very important, ahead of good value for money (68 per cent), being high quality (61 per cent), and being good for the planet (48 per cent)

– When buying food, halal is more important (91 per cent say very important) than cost (51 per cent), and even taste (67 per cent)

Banking: For more abstract services like banking, halal or sharia-compliant is also important but it’s not the most important thing.

– 61 per cent of respondents say whether it’s an Islamic banking or investment product is very important

– 68 per cent say responsiveness and reputation of the financial institution is very important, 65 per cent say ease of use for app or mobile website, and 57 per cent say a good interest rate or return on investment

Travel: Muslim travellers want to expand their perspectives by visiting places outside of the regular religious and heritage spots; at the same time, they want easy access to halal food and to be reassured they won’t experience discrimination.

– 77 per cent of respondents say it factors a lot whether they can eat halal food, ahead even of cost (73 per cent)

– 63 per cent say a major factor is how friendly the government and locals are towards Muslims

– 66 per cent travel for faith reasons such as to perform the haj and the umrah (mini haj); 63 per cent to spend time with family

Technology: Muslims are adopting technology to further their halal lifestyle, including using mobile apps.

– 42 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men shop online at least once a week

– Payment apps are popular. GoPay, Ovo and ShopeePay are the most popular in Indonesia while ShopeePay, Touch ‘n Go and MAE (Maybank) are top in Malaysia

– Less so dating and health-tracking apps – only six per cent use dating apps and 19 per cent use health-tracking apps

Metaverse: The majority of Muslims are interested in the idea of Muslim spaces in the metaverse, but many also worry that the metaverse may be incompatible with Islamic lifestyle and teaching.

– 85 per cent say they would like metaverse spaces made for Muslims

– 49 per cent would like an opportunity to attend prayer in the metaverse

– 78 per cent would like virtual religious accessories (hijabs, abayas) for their avatar

– At the same time, 59 per cent don’t think the metaverse is compatible with Islamic lifestyle/teaching.

Representation: Muslims give advertisers a middling grade on inclusion. Most think that advertising does an okay job depicting Muslims, but there is room for more varied and nuanced depictions of the community. And a significant minority would like to see more LGBTQ+ representation.

– 36 per cent think advertising reflects Muslims very well; 51 per cent think it does so somewhat well. 14 per cent don’t think it reflects Muslims very well or at all well

– 87 per cent would like to see brands feature more people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities; with a significant minority urging for more visibility for the LGBTQ+ community

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The New Muslim Consumer Wunderman Thompson

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