Muslims, given their lamb eating frequency, preference for American lamb, robust population growth, and youthful, viral community, make them an attractive segment for the U.S. sheep industry. But, in order to build demand among this tight-knit group, we must gain cultural knowledge, trust, and distribution.

An advisable first step in building trust and understanding is to begin with opinion leaders; apply learning; and build a sound product development and marketing plan.

Our objective is to justify, qualitatively, the market opportunity for U.S. lamb among the Muslim population, prioritizing market opportunities and barriers. Then, test key messaging among targeted Muslim end-users.

We would identify and recruit about five Muslim lamb influencers/decision-makers to help us position American lamb as the definitive choice for discriminating Muslims willing to pay for highest-quality lamb. Through one-to-one engagement and a disciplined surveying process, we would capture feedback and suggestions, turning knowledge into an action plan.

Gaining a better understanding of how to meet the lamb needs of this very distinct, growing user group is key to generating increased sales and loyalty. Building relationships and identifying passionate fans among this group will expand our consumer franchise and, ultimately, influence mainstream sales.

Megan Wortman, head of ALB, acknowledges this proposal fills a major gap:

The real gap is aligning with religious leaders and other influencers to better understand the needs, challenges, opportunities and educate…them as promoters of American Lamb. Word-of-mouth and trust and transparency are huge.

What we know about Muslim’s lamb attitudes and usage should make them a top US lamb consumer segment, yet commitment to halal meat production and retail distribution remains tepid. This plan proposes influencer identification; a disciplined interviewing process; and keen assessment of insights to help validate market demand and industry implications.

- The sheep industry will gain practical, business-oriented input as to likes/dislikes and ways to ignite interest in our products. We’ll have a platform for telling our story in a culturally sensitive way with compelling reasons and motivations for incorporating American lamb into their special occasions.

- We will gain access and relationships to influencers, setting the stage for development of a smart, efficient target marketing strategy.

- This initiative will yield a report highlighting instrumental key implications and takeaways from the interview deep-dives, enabling industry to activate learning against this critical target segment which should yield long-term financial benefits to the industry.