1 in 3 Southeast Asian Muslims more devout than parents: Report | Religion News

Resurgent religious beliefs and Western-style consumerism are changing the consumption habits of Muslims in the region, according to the survey.

One in three Muslims in Southeast Asia consider themselves more religious than their parents their age, with their beliefs influencing decisions about personal spending, fashion, banking, travel and education, a survey has found.

Just 21 percent of the region’s 250 million Muslims say they are less observant than their parents, while 45 percent consider themselves just as devout, according to the New Muslim Consumer report released on Wednesday.

According to the report by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence and VMLY&R Malaysia, a strong relationship with God is the most important thing in life for 91 percent of Southeast Asian Muslims, tied with health and just ahead of family.

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Just 34 percent consider wealth very important, 28 percent rate their passions and 12 percent list fame as a priority, according to the report, based on interviews with 1,000 consumers in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Muslim consumers
[Courtesy of Wunderman Thompson Intelligence and VMLY&R Malaysia]

According to the report, growing religious beliefs and the spread of Western-style consumer behavior has meant that Muslim-influenced consumer behavior has evolved beyond groceries and encompasses everything from humble fashion and Islamic-law fintech to Muslim dating apps and Halal Travel.

“Muslim consumers are increasingly overlaying their religious beliefs in purchasing decisions, and the way they do so is constantly evolving,” said Chen May Yee, Asia Pacific director of Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.

“New technologies bring new questions – for example, is the Metaverse halal?”

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Whether a product is halal or legal is the most important purchasing factor for Muslim consumers, according to the report. 91 percent of respondents say this is very important, ahead of value for money, quality and environmental considerations.

More than 60 percent of Muslims consider it very important whether a banking or investment product is in line with Islamic law, while 77 percent see the availability of halal food as an important factor when choosing a travel destination, the report says.

While most households are headed by men, female breadwinners represent a significant minority, with 42 per cent of women saying they provide the most financial support, while 70 per cent of men identify themselves as the main breadwinners.

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muslim consumers
[Courtesy of Wunderman Thompson Intelligence and VMLY&R Malaysia]

Southeast Asian Muslims’ beliefs also inform their enthusiasm for burgeoning technologies like the Metaverse, an emerging form of shared virtual reality. 85 percent of respondents said they would like to see virtual spaces for Muslims, and 78 percent expressed an interest in virtual religious accessories. However, 59 percent said they do not believe the metaverse is consistent with Islamic teachings.

“Southeast Asia is more than just a Muslim market — it’s a testing ground for the latest global trends,” said Safa Arshadullah, author and researcher at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.

“What is happening here inspires Muslims around the world to consistently combine faith and function in innovative ways.”

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