As the lens on Africa continues to sharpen, there is a need for stakeholders to clearly highlight the local nuances. These are the local aspects that make every country exhibit, i.e., the unique elements that create a buzz in one country within the continent, but may not have any impact on another, even a neighboring one. There are practices that may resonate in one country but just pass unnoticed in a neighboring one within continent. E.g., what may resonate in Cameroon but will not create the same impact in Central Africa republic. This scenario calls for the need to localize approaches.
There is a case example where inter-governmental, international and local agencies participated in a program to address female genital mutilation among young girls. They proposed using animations for the communication. While using animated characters was a viable option, going out to the local and affected girls, and listen their stories was a more effective way in developing the communication for the program.
In Manufacturing, there is a gradual shift towards locally manufactured products. The notion that local seems to better understand than foreign is gaining traction. For instance, in the trucks market, some owners have a view that locally assembled trucks have better performance and endurance than imported ones. However, this point of view may hold in Kenya but not in another country. This is Afri-local, which involves generating a great deal of buzz only within any given market in the continent.
It is about an authentic presentation, devoid of any posing for the camera moment. This is about presenting a realistic picture of the ‘common’ man & woman’.
This implies the scenes set up in any communication should present an authentic view of the local market. There is a greater scrutiny of stakeholders in any activity, and across sectors. Local collaboration is a key to unlocking the potential development within the continent.
The main take out is the need for authenticity, that is, the extent to which your stakeholders perceive to be true to itself, genuine with its internal and all other stakeholders. It is greatly a qualitative element that shows one cares and connects. While there are a number of attributes that portray the authenticity, sincerity and heritage are the most outstanding. These elements are mostly localized for one to realize their benefits. Even global players, for them to realize authenticity, need to have a local perspective within their target market. In the recent years, the battle for market share has been shifting from a largely top down approach (global to local) to a localized view. Hence, developing a brand authenticity strategy within the local context is a key element in enhancing believability. Consumers will tend to believe and be loyal to a brand they perceive to be authentic.
The aspect of heritage for a brand shows a tradition – a custom or culture over time. Exhibiting, more than claiming goes a long way in developing authenticity. Localization helps to move a notch higher and create the required lasting connection with the local market.
As Africa consumer market expands, organizations will have to create localized approach to build their authentic point of view. Afri-local is therefore the next wave in deepening brand engagement within the continent. What may resonate in Kenya may not have an impact in Mozambique. Hence, this is an emerging opportunity for all stakeholders to deepen understanding of differences and any similarities across the continent. The ‘African consumer’ is not in a homogenous group.
At Episodes Research, we work with partners and clients across the continent to help navigate such nuances. There will still be the need to unearthing the factors that will make goods and services move from one market to another. In other words, understanding habits, practices and behaviors in different markets is still a key factor to driving growth. While the policy and regulatory factors are no longer key hindrances, the need for go-to-market strategies are now be a priority.