Today is Africa Day, a day we celebrate Africa and being African. It is a continent laden with amazing opportunities just waiting to be discovered, says Celia Collins.
As a people, Africans are naturally hungry for information and are constantly seeking new opportunities and offers. The benefit of expanding into this continent is that it doesn’t have the stringent legislation that govern European countries.
There is no doubt that Africa is on the rise, as it has been for the past eight years, and global brands are looking at the continent as very fertile ground for growth. I have a passion for Africa, along with the Group I work for, and when I talk to brand managers most of the time, there is hesitation on doing work in the various countries, which frustrates me as the facts are often not taken into account.
So lets look at a few facts:
1. GDP in most of the African countries is on the increase and above South Africa.
2. Everyone talks about corruption however, from the table below you will see that Africa is not the only “corrupt” continent – most continents are. The difference comes in when you are aware of the corruption, and are able to put processes in place to combat it.
3. Cellular and Mobile penetration is much faster and greater in most African countries.
Twitter showed us a case study of a community leader in a Sub Saharan country that was using Twitter to help his community find jobs / stolen animals / lost community members and selling certain products to his community. This is a phenomenal story and shows just how innovative the African continent is in adapting global apps to work for Africa.
I am not saying that it is all roses, but I believe the positive facts outweigh the negative facts and we have seen countries like Kenya and Namibia being able to implement DTT before South Africa, what are brands waiting for?
Research is also advancing in Africa, all be it a little slow, in some countries, but we are able to get basic research figures in most countries: Botswana / Namibia / Mozambique / Kenya / Tanzania / Uganda / Nigeria / Kenya / Malawi / Zambia / Mauritius / Zimbabwe / DRC / Cameroon / Ghana / Senegal to name but a few.
There are a number of general data sources that can be accessed centrally via timely desktop research however, these sources can be quite high level and sometimes subjective. The best option is to secure objective audited data and complement it with eyes and ears on the ground where possible. It is imperative to understand that data cannot solely be used without perceptive and consistent brand stories. Brands must refine their stories by creating relevance and reducing cost. Simply put, you need to bring the data to life.
It is also crucial for African-based media agencies to have the right partners in each particular market who understand their immediate surroundings and that particular country’s make up of people. Media agencies must be familiar with the local consumers’ lifestyles, hopes, dreams, where and how they shop and their media consumption patterns, for example trying to launch a pharmaceutical brand will need a heavily weighted campaign on ATL media otherwise they will not break through in a market where people rely on traditional healing and self-purging. Therefore a group that is able to implement tools and help their local offices get the required “global knowledge” will most definitely win the race on the continent.