Do You Have A Halal Strategy For Your Product?

If you want to sell your product in the Middle East, you're going to need to have a Halal strategy
If you want to sell your product in the Middle East, you’re going to need to have a Halal strategy
Image Credit: Christer

How much are you predicting sales of your product will grow this year? If it’s anything less than 17%, then perhaps we need to have a talk. Is it possible that you may be overlooking an untapped market for your product: the Middle East? Yeah, yeah – I know what you probably see on TV every evening, but the Middle East is a big place and there are stable places that need your product. Do you know how to enter this market?

How Hair Products Are Entering The Middle East

These sorts of things are always easier to talk about if we can pick an example to take a close look at. For our discussion about how to manage products that you’d like to sell in the Middle East, how about if we start by taking a look at hair products?

The Middle East represents a different market from the west. Product managers who want their products to be a success in the Middle East, need to realize this and adapt their products to meet the unique needs of these markets. Hair products provide us with a great example of how to go about doing this.

In the Middle East, many women wear a head scarf to cover their hair when they go outside. The product managers who are responsible for hair products have taken a close look at what the effect of wearing these scarfs is. What they have discovered is that there is a lack of ventilation under the scarfs. This can lead to split ends, itchy scalp, and even an unpleasant odor. The product managers have gone back and reformulated their western shampoos to deal with these issues and they’ve also tuned their advertising to clearly communicate their advantages.

Challenges For Product Managers To Enter The Middle East

It is possible for a product manager to make their products be a success in the Middle East. However, you need to take the time and do your homework so that you can both understand your potential customers as well as the environment in which they live. Do this well and you’ll have something to add to your product manager resume.

There is no doubt that the consumers are there: there are lots of young Middle Easterners who have cash to spare. The trick will be getting them to notice and then want your product. In order for your product to be acceptable to buyers in the Middle East, you may need to make sure that it is part of the Halal market. This means that is it permissible under Islamic law: Your products won’t be permitted to contain any pork byproducts (these often show up as pig-fat derivatives) or any alcohol.

This market is estimated to be US$2.1 trillion in size. In order to do well, product managers are going to have to realize that their potential customers are often interested in buying local products. This means that a great deal of customization of your product development definition may have to occur. Of course, there will also be competition. Local firms often quickly copy any products that they see their customers buying from other firms. Product managers need to be aware of this and react quickly.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be a successful product manager, your product manager job description says that your product needs to always be generating more and more revenue for your company. In order to do this, you need to be growing your market share and this can be a challenge if you are only operating in well established markets. Perhaps it is time to consider new markets like the Middle East for your product.

The Middle East is a very large territory and there are many different types of customers there. Hair products have discovered unique ways to tailor their global brands to meet local needs. As a product manager you will need to be very aware of which Middle East market you think about entering. There may be a great deal of low cost local competition that you’ll have to deal with.

As mature markets still recover from the financial shocks of a few years ago, emerging markets such as the Middle East start to look more and more attractive to product managers who are looking for ways to make their products be more successful. However, these markets may be different from the ones that you are used to and so you’ll need to adapt your marketing plans to meet the needs of each market. Do this correctly, and your product may become a big success in the Middle East!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Which county in the Middle East would be the right place to start to market a western product?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As product managers we are always thinking of ways to make our product more appealing to our customers. We all have long lists of features that we just know that once they are implemented; our product will become irresistible to our customers. However, there is a good chance that we may be overlooking something. Is it possible that how our product smells could play a big role in how willing our customers are to buy our product?