Uncharted territories: The overlooked demographic of Gen Z British Muslim travelers
In the UK and elsewhere, a generation of gen Z Muslims is embracing travel in new ways. Here, Arif Miah of Mud Orange analyses the specialist agency’s recent research into this overlooked demographic.
Are brands misunderstanding gen Z Muslim travelers? Mud Orange investigates / Esra Korkmaz via Pexels
When the term ‘British Muslim travels’ is brought up, what comes to mind for many are images rooted in immigration or people visiting ‘back home’ whilst living, studying or working abroad.
This perception is fuelled by stereotypical portrayals in mainstream media and outdated brand communications, but it’s far from the dynamic traveling trends of the 3.9 million Muslims who call the UK their home. They expect so much more to enrich their traveling and holiday experiences as they take a break from the regular to explore and be inspired – especially British Muslim Gen Zs.
Are British Muslim gen Zs overlooked?
When it comes to travel and tourism, gen Z British Muslims is a group that’s over a million strong – but it’s still a group that’s often forgotten in brand communications. It’s a vibrant, adventurous, and dynamic group with a passion for exploring the world. The people who make up that group are probably among the most overlooked demographics on our doorstep, making up one in ten of all British gen Zs.
There’s a huge commercial opportunity for airlines, travel companies, and booking platforms here. Yet we rarely see targeted efforts to engage this underserved audience.
Exploration, beyond borders
The overwhelming majority of British Muslim gen Zs were born and raised in the UK, but what sets them apart is that a substantial proportion are active thrill seekers. Their idea of holidaymaking is not limited to visiting ancestral lands, but extends to exploring the far reaches of the world, seeking adrenaline-packed adventures, and immersive cultural experiences.
Our recent travel & tourism study found that one in three call themselves adrenaline seekers, hungry for the thrill of diving from the sky, the rush of ziplining through exotic landscapes, and the awe of exploring the underwater world through scuba diving. The term ‘halal highs’ has been used to signpost unforgettable activities that meet their religious and cultural needs. ‘halal highs’ isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a lifestyle built around adventurous experiences that align with their faith and values.
Opportunities for brands in the business of tourism
The narrative surrounding Muslim travelers is often restricted, outdated, and doesn’t echo the lives of these young, dynamic individuals. In our study, we found that 65% of British Muslims aged between 19-26 embark on at least one holiday a year – with their top destinations including Turkey, Morocco, and Dubai for their Muslim-friendly environments and wide range of activities.
But where are the brands that engage this active, vibrant audience, ready for adventure? Without brand support, these consumers are currently left to freestyle their holiday plans by flicking through TikTok and researching online. They’re calling for brands to fill this gap, streamlining, supporting and inspiring British Muslim traveling.
A staggering 81% of gen Z British Muslims expressed a desire for more representation in travel advertising. That speaks to their unique blend of British and Muslim identity. They crave inclusivity, not just in imagery, but in messaging and offerings tailored to their distinct lifestyle. Yet, the industry seems to lag, catering to stereotypes rather than the dynamic realities. While the world of travel and tourism has made strides in diversity, it often misses the mark in authentically capturing the British Muslim experience, particularly of the younger generation.
So, to the travel and tourism industry, this is an invitation not just to observe but to act, and work with partners to transform these insights into actionable strategies. While it may be uncharted territory for your brand, British Muslims have their bags packed to discover and explore the new.
There’s no shortcut to this. It requires an immersion, an authentic effort to understand, engage, and cater to this demographic. It’s about recognizing that ‘halal holidays’ aren’t just about halal food and prayer spaces but encompass a broader narrative of adventure, thrill, and unforgettable experiences that align with their values.
As a specialist agency leading the intricate interplay of cultural nuances of Muslim life and market dynamics, we’ve uncovered and engaged with this demographic. The insights are clear, the potential is enormous, and the opportunity is ripe for the taking.
You can read the British Muslim Travel & Tourism summary report here.
Content by The Drum Network member:
mud orange is an independent creative agency producing award-winning work, that works with niche audiences. Based in London, they’ve built a global name for producing some of the most disruptive brand work and advertising campaigns that connect with new audiences, diverse communities, and emerging spaces.Find out more