Exploring Africa

24 Jan 2007|Added Value

The African continent has over 50 countries with an average population of over 750 million. With a population that is estimated to grow to 1 billion by 2023, the African market presents marketers with potentially great opportunities.

But while many international branding giants have tried taking advantage of this potentially lucrative market, some brands have reaped the rewards while others are failing miserably. To flourish in this market, brands are hugely dependent on their ability to leverage the similarities and unique characteristics of each of these countries for marketing success.

Since we first started working on the continent in 1998, we  have conducted extensive market research into this region (see breakdown at the end of this article) to arrive at the following broad consumer insight into similarities between the different countries (excluding South Africa):

National Pride:
– Each country has a strong sense of national pride and identity
– They also experience a need for international recognition
– Consumers place importance on community upliftment and improvement

Need for stability:
– Countries have been through periods of optimism followed by periods of despair, resulting in waves of different attitudes, needs, priorities, and aspirations
– Thus, it is important to understand where country is in terms of optimism or despair when creating brand message
– Ongoing corruption and a lack of trust in government and the corporate sector, especially banking are continuing challenges

Entrepreneurship and networking:
– Each have strong cultures of entrepreneurship-mostly informal businesses
– It is a streetwise population with a strong networking culture 
– Credibility and stable relationships are regarded as important factors in success
– Informal business promotes cash a orientated economy

Ethno-Cultural Identity
– Ethnicity is a strong driver in all these markets
– There are also very strong regional differences, with ethnicity having implications and challenges for effective communication.
– Language is important in understanding and engaging with information.

Polarisation of consumer groups-each market have the following segments:
– Marketers tend to find an older more conservative consumer that is holding onto traditional values and beliefs
– There is also a younger more progressive segment that counters this conservatism.
– A larger portion of each country’s population are comprised of a struggling majority with a need to satisfy their basic needs

Underdeveloped language of brands:
– Few locally developed brands exist in these markets although there are strong national/regional products with no real emotional connection
– The aspiration to international brands is a strong driver of choice
– Most products are functionally positioned in the market
– Financial services brands are usually positioned as being authoritative institutions

– There is a tension between international messages and local pride.
– South Africa is seen as strength in Africa and migration of SA brands north are seen as threatening.
– In alcohol markets, a collective African message has not been working.

Changing face of communication:
– Strong DSTV and M-NET penetration in Africa. Traditional mediums of communication (radio and newspaper) still strong.
– It is also a networking culture with word of mouth being an important influencer of decisions and communicator of messages.
– South African communication and messages are not always suited for other African consumers. Clearly there is a need for messages to be relevant and delivered to these consumers in a simpler and clearer way.

Amongst the countries that Added Value have researched are:
– Botswana (Inspiration): Qualitative experience
– Kenya (Inspiration): Qualitative experience
– Morocco: Qualitative and quantitative work
– Mozambique: (Alcoholic Beverages) Qualitative experience
– Namibia: (Beverages & Financial services) Qualitative and quantitative experience
– Nigeria: (Regional Destination Marketing) Quantitative experience
– South Africa: Extensive qualitative and quantitative experience
– Tanzania (Alcoholic & Soft Beverages): Qualitative and quantitative experience
– Uganda (Alcoholic Beverages): Qualitative experience
– Zambia (Beverages) Qualitative experience

By Charles Broome, CEO of The Added Value Group: South Africa

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