Marketing Africa and its Consumer Landscape

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When you fall get up, oh oh, If you fall get up, eh eh. Tsamina mina zangalewa, Cuz this is Africa
Tsamina mina, eh eh, Waka waka, eh eh, Tsamina mina zangalewa, This time for Africa!

That was the theme song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.  This was an event that not boosted South Africa’s image as a host.  However, as the lyric highlights, this was also seen an African event.  In social events having different nationalities, many tend to play this song to identify any groups from Africa as the song cuts across boundaries.  Indeed, brand Africa has existed in many minds, but connotes varied images.  Why is it important to address the ‘Brand Africa’?  The global markets still look at the continent as an entity, but let me clarify that this implies:

  • Addressing the region, the same way as others like Europe, Asia …etc.
  • More important, a high number still look at Africa through a prism of risk, low income, the unknown. 

Is this a bad thing? Not at all. The onus is for the African marketer to address the ‘brand’ perception.

As the continent continues to integrate in the global space, there is a need to address the brand Africa, its people and the consumers it holds. However, there is a need to address the dual issue of one-in-many as well as the many-in-one aspects. That is, the one continent that holds over 54 independent nations, and same time provide every country to develop its unique opportunities. 

There exist some key aspects that are used over time to define the continent. For instance, statements like ‘Only in Africa’, ‘This is Africa’ (not the publication, but the phrase). These statements have been used over time to describe the uniqueness of the continent. However, can the same be applied in the African consumer market?  Have brands selling on ‘this is for Africa’ succeeded in growing their markets within the continent? Does the continental outlook resonate with the consumers in the various markets of Africa?

The continent continues to develop, despite the challenges in the global economy, the current pandemic, and various geo-political interests.  Some economies in the continent are drawing interest due to the high growth rates. Previously, international players have included some economies such as Nigeria and South Africa among key target markets expected to show strong growth and provide high returns for investors. 

With a population of over 1.2 billion, Africa accounts for about 16% of the world population, according to the estimates by United Nations. This provides a large base of consumers.  However, how can marketers target such a large number? Are there successful Pan-African entities who have managed to meet the needs to this large number? However, the question is – can we define the African consumer? Other unit territories with over a billion people are China and India. However, these are nation states.  Africa, though a single territory, has over 54 different nation states.  Is it possible to define an African consumer? How can businesses navigate the African consumer landscape in such a vast area? What sectors are driving this landscape?

This decade will be a defining moment for the continent, especially as free trade agreements, power and internet connectivity play a key part.

At Episodes Research, we have worked with partners and clients across markets in 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 respective local nuances and habits in different markets will still be a key factor to driving engagement. While the policy and regulatory factors will no longer be a key hindrance, the need for go-to-market local strategies will now be a priority in developing these new markets.

We invite you to share your comments. We are glad to partner with you in this conversation. 

In case of any query, please let us know. 

#KeepWell #StaySafe


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