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New consumer voices: Meet Generation M

WGSN’s Future Consumer 2020 report is live – and it’s providing brands with crucial insight into the near future. How will people shop? What will they expect from brands? And, most crucially, what’s set to motivate these changes?

“As highlighted in WGSN’s The Vision 2019, racial and ethnic identifiers are shifting, and with it so are the voices of power. Connecting with these new majorities needs to be a priority, not an afterthought,” says WGSN’s Director of Consumer Insight, Andrea Bell.

So who’s set to have all the spending power? We highlight the key consumer groups profiled in the report that you need to be paying attention to.

Want a sneak peek at The Future Consumer 2020? Head here to get your hands on our white paper. 

 

MEET GENERATION M 

 

Muslim Millennials (Generation M) are young, middle class and wield considerable spending power. Projected to be a quarter of the world’s population by 2050, they’re set to drive consumption as well as social and political change.

The State of the Global Islamic Economy 2016 report states that Muslim consumers are forecast to spend $327bn on apparel alone by 2019 – a figure larger than the current combined clothing markets of the UK, Germany and India.

This new consumer voice presents a wealth of opportunity for retailers and yet this potential simply hasn’t been realised.

We spoke to Nafisa Bakkar, CEO and founder of Amaliah, an online publication representing the many different voices of women in Generation M, to better understand the needs of this growing consumer and the steps brands need to take to reach them.

 

Nafisa Bakkar

 

What motivated you to start Amaliah?

 

Nafisa Bakkar: We actually started in the fashion space, not because we were passionate about fashion but because we struggled with finding items of clothing that allowed us to cover up and look good. The first version of Amaliah was a curated fashion site, which still exists on shop.amaliah.com, which curates modest fashion finds from well-known high-street retailers like ASOS, Topshop and Boohoo.

As we grew, we felt we needed to use our platform to speak out and invite other Muslim women to speak their own truths. We realised the issue of representation spanned far and wide. That is when we relaunched Amaliah.com into what it is today- a platform that amplifies the voices of Muslim women. It is a space for Muslim women to exist on their own terms. For too long we were spoken for or boxed in to speaking about why we aren’t oppressed or terrorists.

Ultimately, our aim is to make it easier to exist as a Muslim woman in today’s world, being empowered in your identity is a huge part of that. Our work spans industries, last year we launched Amaliah x 23 Code Street scholarship fund for Muslim women which was to help get more Muslim women into tech through coding, the tech industry being another one that lacks diversity and inclusion. Our insights.amaliah is an extension of this. We want to create real industry change in the way Muslims are represented. We want to be represented beyond tick box diversity.

In your AdAge piece, you discussed the rise of Muslim equivalents to mainstream companies, from Netflix (Alchemiya) to Tinder (Muzmatch). Are you more likely to invest in these brands over the mainstream ones?

 

A lot of Muslim companies have risen out of a frustrated of not being catered to. In an ideal world, Amaliah wouldn’t need to exist and neither would these companies, and it wouldn’t be difficult to find the voices of Muslim women represented authentically or hard to find products and experiences with ease as a Muslim consumer.

 

Is there a first step that brands can take to reach Muslim women?

 

Campaigns that have gone wrong have been a product of teams and companies not being diverse enough, and that spans across representation of those that aren’t muslim. It’s why we work with brands and agencies to help them truly understand who Muslims are beyond a hijabi aesthetic. When we see campaigns, it is clear who was and wasn’t sitting at the table when decisions were being made… hello, Pepsi ad.

Some campaigns can come across quite patronising and there is a joke now among Muslim women where it only takes me leaving the house in a hijab to proclaim that I am breaking a stereotype. You only have to look at the Elle and L’Oreal campaigns to see examples of that.

 

Can you think of an example, if any, of a brand who’s setting the precedent?

 

There are sadly more brands doing it wrong than doing it right. Uniqlo is a case study I am fond of, as they took a collaborative approach by teaming up with a Muslim fashion designer, Hana Tajima, in releasing a range. They didn’t assume they knew it all and didn’t try and impose onto a community, but instead chose to work with someone from it.

 

To find out more on your future consumer, click here for our white paper. 

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