Five things you should do to win Africa’s consumer market


In just the last few years alone, business giants and shareholders have grown increasingly interested in the considerable potential of Africa’s flourishing consumer market. This ethnically and culturally diverse continent is now home to more than 1.1 billion inhabitants that speak more than 2,000 languages. It will make up one-fifth of the world’s growing population by 2025. Africans are continuously entering the consumer class, with millions emerging from poverty in the last few years. With the emergence of this new consumer class and increasing buying power, and the need for products and services that seemed unfeasible but now a reality, expanding to the African continent is a no-brainer for progressive companies.

Still, there are well-known limits for businesses wishing to expand and do business in Africa. Poor infrastructure in parts of the continent to political uncertainty, to name a few, can cause companies to be cautious when entering this market. All things considered; a growing number of international companies have managed to leap into Africa as it presents an emergence of opportunity for organisations across the continent with predictions that this ever-increasing market could be valued at well over $1 trillion by 2020.

To do this right, here are five things you should do to win Africa’s consumer market.


Target the young and urban population

Targeting is vital, especially for businesses wishing to venture into the African continent. We know that African consumers are relatively young, in urban areas, and eager to have desired goods. Approximately 53% of African income earners are between the ages of 16 and 34 years. Undoubtedly, this is a critical age group conscious of trends and willing to try new products and services. $400 billion in overall consumption growth in the next decade will result from the spending habits of these young consumer groups.

It is also worth noting that urbanisation will have an immense impact on the continent’s consumer market and the rise of technology, specifically smartphone usage. In the next five years, almost half of the African population will be residing in cities. There are already several cities with over a million residents.

Africa’s working-age population is also rising at a rate of 2.7% per year compared to Latin America’s 1.3% rise and Southeast Asia’s 1.2% rise. By 2025, almost two-thirds of African households will have a disposable income. This vast growth of the consumer pool will help drive Africa’s GDP growth. This growth is why multinational organisations should target these young, technology-driven consumers located in urban areas.


Micro-targeting works well in this region.

The most successful companies entering Africa have done their due diligence concerning their marketing approach when entering Africa. Although it might seem like a good idea to mass target, instead, target the most lucrative and quickest growing urban centres and hubs where household income and consumer spending habits surpass the national average.

So, what does this look like exactly? For example, let’s look at Lagos, where residents earn an average of twice as much as Nigerian citizens in other cities or Luanda, which accounts for 45% of the total consumer consumption in the southern African nation of Angola. By 2025, 60% of consumer spending in Africa will come from the 20 largest cities.

A micro, city-led strategy is crucial in Africa, provided the disparities in growth rates even among cities within a country and the speedy pace of urbanisation. Having said this, selecting the most promising cities is one factor, but focusing efforts on reaching new audiences at the right time is another. Forward-thinking companies create evidence-based projections of potential markets.


Adapt the offer to local needs and preferences.

Companies embarking into the African market must learn about local needs and preferences that push mass adaptation of their products or services, then localise accordingly. A great example of a localised product is when P&G adopted one of its detergents for Nigeria. The company had learnt that Nigerian buyers valued how well a detergent can lather to characterize its quality. As a result, they formulated the detergent so it would lather quickly. This adaptation is an excellent example of localising products or services to suit local audiences in their cultural language.

Emerging businesses should also focus their efforts on local product preferences and local purchasing behaviours. For instance, in some cities, consumer spending is not affected by the low prices of goods. These customers still buy items at a lower value without any hesitation. In contrast, many consumers in places such as Lagos view low-cost items negatively and even question the quality of these items.

Companies must understand consumer insights before expanding into a region. Not only this, but other components and categories should matter when adapting to local needs, from brand packaging to choosing whether a company is going for a premium or low end, colours, and recognizable language intended for the local market. For instance, a well-prepared company knows that it should localise its use of language to seamlessly gauge its new African demand. It can quickly go wrong, and the last thing any company wants to do is offend or confuse new audiences. A simple word-for-word translation of marketing copy will not suffice. Partnering with a specialised African translation service provider will bridge any language gap.


Quality matters to many African consumers

Many African consumers believe in having the right balance between high quality and price. Many of these consumers correlate the price of a product with quality. Consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a better-quality product and, specifically, consumer durables for longer-lasting items. Many consumers will find a way to purchase higher-valued, quality goods.

To be successful in Africa’s markets, entrants can’t presume that any international product or service will be a guaranteed success. As an alternative, corporations should learn and understand consumer preferences and find an equilibrium between quality, endurance, notability, and price. Furthermore, these emerging companies should focus their efforts on the quality of their products and services and emphasize that message through sampling, marketing, and advertising.


Leverage the Internet and social media.

A technological revolution is sweeping this vast content. The Internet and easy access to information are leading drivers of change for this generation, especially in the past ten years. These drivers act as a clear catalyst for Africa’s revamped economic and political stability.

Mobile phone usage is supporting the continent in conquering its lack of infrastructure. Smartphones have also been ground-breaking by enhancing consumers’ access to information and knowledge like never before. Internet and mobile phone usage are high in Africa and rising rapidly. Social networks are also essential factors, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms on the climb.

Viral communication is becoming more and more essential for reaching African consumers. As a result, companies should seek ways to leverage the internet and social media to market themselves and build brand awareness authentically; this will set companies apart from one another. Suppose a multinational is thinking of entering a region where its native language is not spoken; with the support of a certified language translation service, companies can market to consumers regardless of their native language and on a larger scale, thanks to this technology.