Rebone Masemola
Rebone Masemola

Brands across the African continent for the most part are failing to connect with women, and their agencies often "bemoan the female marketing challenge".

But, says Rebone Masemola, brand project manager at Kantar Added Value SA, with more than 600m females on the continent — and a projection that 75% of household spending power will be controlled by women by 2028 — the opportunity for brands is enormous and they need to get their act together.

Markets beyond Africa are doing a lot better. "Many global brands are creating layered narratives that resonate strongly and empower women to express themselves freely," says Masemola. "Procter & Gamble, for example, has secured its share of voice within the equal-pay movement that seeks to ensure women smash the glass ceiling to get paid the same salaries as their male counterparts."

Another example she cites is the sports brand Nike, which has aligned itself with strong, iconic women athletes such as Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe and Dalilah Muhammad.

Against this backdrop Kantar Added Value has just completed a survey in a bid to gain a deeper understanding of the struggle brands face when marketing to African women.

The study finds 75% of the marketers in Africa don’t believe brands in their industry are marketing effectively to African women, and 70% of these marketers say their own marketing efforts aren’t resonating strongly with African women.

Masemola says marketers are failing to recognise "an African women’s complex and multifaceted nature and her need to live without limitation, but still be represented with dignity". Consumers in the study asked why SA brands were doing little or nothing for women empowerment and why black women were still depicted doing laundry.

The study identifies key areas marketers need to understand and master to better connect with, and win over, African women. An example is African women want to see brands portray and address the challenges they face as parents in Africa. One of these challenges is wanting their children to succeed in a modern world, but not at the expense of losing their African identity.

The survey also finds that women are open and willing to support local brands that develop products and services that are driven by the real needs of African women. For instance, a beauty brand like singer Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty offers cosmetics foundations that match the different skin tones of all kinds of black women.

The survey also finds that successful women don’t want to be showcased with overt masculine qualities.

Notes Masemola: "The strong African woman doesn’t want to be shown as a business mogul in a pinstripe suit taking over from a man in an aggressive manner. Neither does she need to belittle men to get ahead. Brands need to understand the strength in the wisdom of African women and that they do not want a weak man, they love the strength of their men."

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