The level of awareness regarding halal cosmetics among regions is different. The market of halal cosmetics is still focused in Asia because of its Muslim-majority populations compared to other regions. The growing trend of halal cosmetics has also impacted the local market as well. In recent years, halal cosmetics have gained popularity among people, mostly women, by following the global trend.
Halal cosmetics is still a new concept where people need clear understanding. ‘Halal’ means permissible or allowable and it refers to personal care products that have been manufactured and composed of ingredients that are permissible under Islamic Shariah (law).
Conscious buyer or not?
Farzana Islam, a resident of Dhaka, has recently heard about halal products. Though she doesn’t know much about halal cosmetics, what inspired her to use them is the label of halal. “Since it’s halal, it would be good for health as well.”
As someone who prefers to use halal products, Naziba Islam said, “I try to use halal cosmetics but I’m not sure whether everything I’m using is halal or not. Using Halal cosmetics firstly, is obeying Allah and secondly, I will be satisfied mentally that I’m not using any harmful products. In one word, it’s safe according to me.”
Tasmia Karim has been using halal cosmetics, following the global trend for the last five years. She said, “I can now buy the cosmetics here with the advent of a halal cosmetics brand in Bangladesh.”
There are plenty of consumers both well-informed and vaguely informed, who have been purchasing, and even showing interest in halal cosmetics -- though the number of informed customers is lower than the latter.
“From the very beginning, our consumer range is very niche. Majority of our customers knew about it earlier and used halal cosmetics before launching Wardah in Bangladesh,” said Symon Imran Hyder, the chairman of Symon AnMi. He also mentioned that Bangladesh has a few beauty enthusiasts who have demands for halal cosmetics and they intend to meet their demands.
Symon Imran said they started the business with the motto of building a proper halal cosmetics brand basket that will consist of the best brands around the world for the consumers of Bangladesh. Apart from Wardah, they have introduced a few more brands and a few are on the line to come to the market.
Symon Imran also added, “We always tried to say halal is good for everybody. We have customers from other religious communities as well. This is a concept taken from Islam but it is not limited to only the Muslim community. However, since it is a Muslim country, those who are pious, have a soft corner for the concept,” he said.
Although promotional activities by the halal cosmetics brands spread the word, it is still hard to measures the level of awareness of the concept among people.
Is the market expanding?
The idea of “100 percent halal soap” had once blown the Bangladeshi market. There is a huge scope of for halal cosmetics brand – however, a sustainable market is only attainable when the majority of consumers will understand the concept properly.
“It has never been the target to reach every segment of consumers. Our target are those who are real beauty enthusiasts and beauty conscious and want to use halal cosmetics by understanding it properly, not only by the tag of halal. But from our side it is increasing because if it wasn’t growing, we won’t be able to sustain all these years,” said Symon Imran.
The options for halal cosmetics brands are quite limited. The first introducer of halal cosmetics in Bangladesh, Wardah came to the market in 2017. Founded in 1985, Wardah is one of the most popular cosmetic brands in Indonesia. The company is certified with GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and HAS (Halal Assurance System).
Lafz is another big name in Bangladesh. There are quite a good number of Facebook pages that claim to sell halal cosmetics.
There are customers across the country who have purchased halal cosmetics before the launching of any such brand in Bangladesh. A fair portion of them is now fulfilling their demand through brands available in the market. “Such customers often buy six months worth of products at once or are buying in bulk in case those go out of stock,” said Symon Imran.
The marketing of halal cosmetics is so far limited within the urban periphery. Social media platforms have been playing a huge role in spreading the concept around the country.
Sadia Sifat Afroz, a resident of Rangpur said she came to know about halal cosmetics through Facebook. “I was looking for personal care products that I can use without worrying about facts like ingredients, quality etc. My understanding, is since it’s halal, it would be good." She has been a regular user of halal cosmetics for the last six months.
The ratio of the customers of Wardah inside and outside Dhaka is pretty close. “The progress in terms of increase in numbers is slow and steady,” said Symon Imran.
A concern of socioeconomy and ethnicity
Even though the concept of halal cosmetics is widespread among consumers of the country, the market is dominated by traditional cosmetics brands because of price and product suitability for the local consumers.
“We got a lot of requests and queries about halal cosmetics. However, the actual purchase rate compared to request and queries are low,” said Farhana Preeti, the head of the business development department of Shajgoj, an e-commerce platform.
After knowing about halal cosmetics, Afroza Begum became interested in using them. “Though I want to use halal cosmetics available in the Bangladesh market, I find the products are overpriced for me.”
Rumi Jaman asked for concrete market research in fulfilling the local requirements. “I find it really difficult to get shades of foundations that go with my skin tone and that happens with my friends and family as well,” she said.
From an ethical perspective, halal cosmetics are not limited to organic, 100% vegan or cruelty-free. Apart from having a sustainability mission either socially or environmentally, there is certain compliance maintenance, for example ethically sourced ingredients, offering fair wages and paying the tax fixed by a particular country.
Talking about high maintenance regarding expiry date and paying the duty fee, Symon Imran Hyder said, “More compliance means higher price. Considering Bangladesh’s high tariff for cosmetics and small consumer range, the miscellaneous costs to bring these products is high. As the market grows miscellaneous costs will also be reduced. Initially, we couldn’t offer a discount but nowadays we can offer it.” As Symon mentioned, they are still not focusing on profit, rathef spread the concept of halal cosmetics for the betterment of humankind.
As a supporter of the ethical beauty movement, Raisa Moyeen has used halal-certified cosmetics in the past. However, she is not in love with the products yet, as she shares her thoughts on them. “Traditional companies still offer better quality, variety, and price. This is understandable of course, as the concept is relatively new and the products are still in a developmental stage. If a product I'm interested in isn't halal-certified, I look at vegan or cruelty-free certifications. That makes it easier to find a wider range of products.”
“There is need for incorporation of the products with the anthropological aspect of local consumers of the country, if we want to grow sustainable the market in more. It requires a more inclusive approach,” said Farhana Preeti.
At the end of the day, price is very important since the product’s popularity mostly depends on the price in the context of Bangladesh.