Marketing Focus – Halal Case Study

Whether you own a brand, dream of owning a brand or just love to know how brands tick, there is no doubt in our minds that brand communication matters and so, with that in mind we have decided to take a look at one new area of the market that has bags of potential.  Going Halal!

While the Halal cosmetics market has been slowly marching onwards and upwards after blasting into the market  around five years ago,  Halal  is still a  relatively new and little understood term outside of the core market.  Halal fits under the broader category of ‘ethical’ cosmetics which also encompasses vegan, fair-trade and charity orientated products and as that is seen as a niche player. However, with a bit of careful communication  and brand-allignment Halal can be scaled-up into something more closely resembling the structure and reach of the organics market.  What to know how?  Let’s take a look…..

When Organically certified cosmetics first came onto the market they struggled to break beyond the nice health-store clientele because early organic ranges often didn’t work as well, feel as good or last as long as their traditional cousins.  But the most important barrier to mass take-up was the price point.  Organic cosmetics were all of the above AND double the price which left many scratching their heads in wonder at why they would ever need these products in the first place.

Of course the organics market today is booming and it is not unusual nowadays to see an organic product in the bathrooms of high flying city slickers, middle-income families and the elderly.

So what went right?

Just being organic was clearly not enough; these products had to work, had to be affordable (or be able […]

Botox – Is it right for me?

I wrote this piece for Islam Online earlier this year but thought it would be useful to share with you here as it is relevant for all people thinking about the needle!


There is no denying that botox is popular, indeed statistics published by the American Society for Aethetic Plastic Surgery state that in 2008 in North America, 2,464,123 botox procedures were performed. Not only that but the recipients are getting younger as botox is seen as a reasonable way to ‘prevent’ wrinkles from occurring.   So is the promise of a baby-smooth complexion too hard to resist? Is the product safe and should it even be considered in the first place? To answer these questions we need to do some digging around at the medi-spa.

What is Botox?
First of all ‘Botox’ is actually a trade name of Allergen Inc, USA and is used to market a muscle-relaxing toxin called “Botulinum Toxin”. An alternatives to Allergen’s ‘Botox’ is ‘Dysport’ manufactured by the Ipsen Group.  While both of these products have medical approval and contain the same active it would not be fair to say that they can be used interchangeably (information would be available to the practitioner in the Product Information Document produced by each company).

Many people will have heard of Botulism,  the deadly sickness caused by the above bacteria and will be worried by the prospect of introducing this into their bodies.  However, botulism and botulinum toxin are clinically different.  The  “botulinum toxin” used to relax muscles is produced by extracting the deadly toxin from the bacteria before purifying and modifying it to render it only mildly toxic.

Botulinum Toxin has been used clinically to relieve tension headaches, to treat excessive sweating and to help manage Cerebral […]

The Scientific Challenges Facing The Halal Market

On 13th and 14th April Halcos ran for the first time in Malaysia- a conference put together to discuss the opportunities for Halal cosmetics. My presentation was based on the essay below. I know that it makes for long reading but you may find it of interest.

Is the future Halal? I think so……

Cosmetic science is often seen as the poor relation – a ‘science’ that is based on triviality, a veneer, a science that feeds the indulgent and self-obsessed side of humanity.  At best it is seen as shallow and at worst corrupting. Our modern interpretation of the word ‘cosmetic’ supports this notion as we shall see below.


Adjective meaning ‘used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive or more impressive’ OR “Serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty”

It is this definition that leads us to believe that we are incomplete and in need of refinement without this ‘cosmetic’ activity or product.   How can this be when a universal, complete and therefore perfect beauty DOES exist?  Surely we don’t need this type definition of ‘cosmetic’?

However, when we look more closely at the word we find a different meaning, a meaning that may enrich and celebrate our intrinsic beauty. The word ‘cosmetic’ originates from the Greek word ‘Kosmos’ meaning ordered or arranged. Further, the adjective “Kosmetos” means adornment and arrangement – implying that beauty and perfection already exist and ‘cosmetification’ is a celebration of that natural wonder.    This celebration is neither trivial nor self-indulgent.

This ‘word play’ is all important when contemplating a future for Halal certified cosmetics and the science that it stands upon.  Therefore we find ourselves with two options on the table:

1)     Kosmetos:  To endorse a definition that empowers and supports […]

Halal Cosmetics Standard On The Way

Muslim’s the world over will soon be able to buy their personal care products in confidence thanks to Standards Malaysia’s work on an all-encompassing cosmetic standard.  The standard has been developed in response to growing global demand for non-food Halal certified products. However, when I talked to our local Australian Muslim community there was little understanding of what a Halal cosmetic was begging the question “just who stands to benefit  from the introduction of this new standard?”  

Summary of the state of affairs for Halal Cosmetics.

Market Confusion: To be a Halal cosmetic involves more than just abstaining from pork and alcohol. Many Muslims who take the time to seek out non-food Halal products are already well versed with reading labels and phoning the manufacturers armed with hard-to-answer questions about the manufacture, distribution and ethics behind said product.  Let’s hope that the standard comes with some consumer education.
Cosmetic Capers. Although all cosmetics Could be certified as Halal under the new standard, there are ethical and ideological reasons why some products don’t cut it for some Muslim consumers (for some, drawing attention to ones body is prohibited and so products such as body shimmer,  colourful eye make-up and nail polish may only be suitable for home use if at all).
Washability. Praying while wearing make-up is a no-no so brand owners and cosmetic chemists may want to ensure that products can be removed easily as part of their customer care plan.
Integrity.   Just as the manufacturing companies ethics are important, so is the integrity of the company’s supply chain. What the company portrays through advertising and marketing activities speak volumes – brand owners should walk the walk!
Divine Beauty.  Cosmetic products can only do so much for ones beauty with the rest coming from the way […]