10/31/2011 01:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Muslim Market Power

Is the American Muslim demographic the next to reach $1 trillion in spending power?

For the third year in a row, I will be attending the American Muslim Consumer Conference (AMCC). There is a lot of recent and important history there for me. When I was developing the marketing plan and pitch for my book, "Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet," I was told by one book executive that "Muslims don't read." Instead of staying angry, I searched for something to connect with him, in his language of making money, which I found by way of powerful market research data:

According to research released in 2007 by JWT, a well known marketing and communications brand, The American Muslim demographic has $170 billion in spending power. That's a lot of money these days and too much to be sitting on the sideline. This information, coupled with the data gathered about Muslims by Pew and Gallup with some prescient market research done by Shahed Amanullah and Adnan Durrani, founder of Saffron Road, the first American Muslim Consumer conference laid out a compelling picture of a untapped, undervalued and potentially incredibly powerful and values-conscious consumer base.

Armed with this market research I was able to convince the book editors that a market did indeed exist and it would be of great interest to anyone who likes to make money to tap into it. Consequently, "Green Deen" has been successful because it was authentically focused on the core market but also balanced enough to engage others outside that core, namely environmentalists and the interfaith community. 

This past weekend, I and many other Muslim and non-Muslims, will go back to the same convening. The conversation has changed somewhat. We are no longer trying to convince people that a market exists. Actually, the business community has gotten the memo, especially in times like these where any money sitting on the sideline is being coaxed into the game. Now we are trying to hone in on how to best amplify already existing efforts and make our business stronger to compete in a tough economic climate. 

It is a funny irony for this country, rife with Islamophobia, that there might be some relief in the very American, very boring, well educated and wealthy Muslim demographic that has more in common historically with the growing Black and Latino demographics -- both of which have reached almost $1 trillion in spending power!

This year additional research will be released about the American Muslim demographic, keeping in line with the tradition of the AMCC to release trend-setting market data. Other highlights include a conversations about market segmentation, financing, balancing lifestyle marketing while preserving values, and the event will feature a "Shark Tank" feeling entrepreneurship showcase where up-and-coming business owners will present their business models in front of seasoned Muslims "Sharks" similar to the popular ABC show -- only they will not be competing to buy a stake in the business and will primarily be offering advice on how to strengthen the business model. 

The American Muslim Consumer Conference is a win-win. What I like about this convening is that it is about solutions, about making money, and about building a stronger sense of community within the Muslim community and with the larger non-Muslim community as well.