Despite the worldwide Muslim population standing at 1.56 billion, few companies are taking advantage of the significant opportunities presented by this consumer segment, stated the company. Targeting this market and providing consumers with halal product alternatives could bring significant benefits to the cosmetics and fashion industries as well as food and beverage manufacturers. Muslim market important for future growth The management consultancy firm note that Muslim consumers represent a positive outlet for future growth over other consumer segments. "At a time when may other large consumer segments are reaching a saturation point, Muslims are a new outlet from which to build a box for future growth," reads the company's report entitled Addressing the Muslim Market: Can You Afford Not To? In addition, Muslims make up an estimated 20 per cent of the world's population and increasing consumer affluence and Western influence means this consumer base is growing increasingly strong. "Since Muslims are the fastest growing consumer segment in the world, any company that is not considering how to serve them is missing a significant opportunity to affect both its top- and bottom-line growth," the report reads. Muslim market for cosmetics and personal care The company highlights the cosmetics and fashion markets as untapped industries that present excellent opportunity for companies to incorporate Muslim values. Although they note that in theory wearing cosmetics is hamam, a significant proportion of Muslim women do wear cosmetics and those that do may well prefer halal version. Developing halal products and specifically marketing to Muslim populations is likely to bring rewards to companies. "Extra care in aligning strategies of global fashion apparel and cosmetics companies present enormous opportunities as the market is sizeable" said Dirk Buchta managing director of AT Kearney Middle East as quoted by online news provider MENAFN (Middle East North Africa Financial Network). Halal certified products A number of cosmetics companies are beginning to tap into this significant market, releasing halal certified ranges that contain no animal ingredients and are not tested on animals. Colgate-Palmolive has a number of toothpaste products that are certified halal and Australian firm Almaas produce halal colour cosmetics such as mascaras and eye shadows. In addition, The Body Shop although not certified halal, is an example of a successful retailer in the Middle East having taken a strong stance against animal testing and using a number of natural ingredients in their products. Earlier this week the company's franchise in Pakistan announced the opening of its fourth store in Lahore stating there was a significant demand for the products in Pakistan which would be tapped into during the coming year. The success of the UK-based retailer in this market illustrates that clever marketing strategies may be as important as offering certified halal ranges.