Picture: 123RF/CHARLES WOLLERTZ
Picture: 123RF/CHARLES WOLLERTZ

Even prior to the Covid pandemic, Africa was changing at a rapid rate. It’s worth remembering that it’s a mobile-first continent that has led the way in terms of digital payments like M-Pesa and farming apps like iCow and Xam Marse, which have had a profound impact.

In a post-pandemic world, business leaders expect there will need to be a fundamental rethink of businesses and strategies, says Adeola Tejumola, recently appointed MD of Kantar’s insights division for the Middle East and Africa region.

Tejumola, who took over from industry veteran Charles Foster, says most business leaders on the continent expect changes to consumer behaviour established during the pandemic to persist after the crisis. “No recession to date has brought about consumer change of this magnitude,” he says. He adds that digital commerce has shifted from being purely online to also encompass WhatsApp and SMS ordering. The continent is characterised by more access to mobile handsets than to computers.

“We’ve also seen a consumer mind frame reset, as nesting with family and healthy lifestyles take on more importance. Working from home is a concept that is likely to persist, or at the very least change how we work in the long term.”

Adeola Tejumola. Picture: Supplied
Adeola Tejumola. Picture: Supplied

Tejumola says purpose and sustainability have moved from being nice-to-have to must-haves for brands, as consumers want these to be accountable and to lead with authenticity and purpose. “And while no-one expects world peace from their yoghurt or an end to global warming from their bank, the ‘new’ consumer does expect proof of small, tangible steps brands are taking to help make life a little better for individuals, communities or a part of the world. Actions speak louder than words. This in turn creates a more credible and achievable brand purpose than ‘saving the world’ and results in more sustainable brand growth.”

Tejumola played a pivotal role in the establishment of Kantar’s Africa Life initiative, a programme that was launched in 2017 and was designed to help clients understand the fast-changing context of the African continent. A report drawn up by the Africa Life initiative identifies the trends that will fuel brand growth and help brands and marketers better understand consumers on the continent. “With seven out of the world’s 10 highest-growth markets in Africa, a burgeoning middle class market and the largest youth population in the world, there is no question that marketers need to connect with and understand these consumers.”

Data and research, says Tejumola, will be more important than ever, because we’re in flux and there is no normal anymore. “This is not a time to stop investing in marketing but an opportunity to place your brand firmly in the spotlight and work on your equity equation. The pandemic has shifted the world as we know it and, along with it, many legacy goal posts of business success. Businesses need a new understanding of today’s consumer needs and aspirations as well as how their brands can best meet these needs.”

the big take-out:

Businesses need a new understanding of today’s consumer needs and aspirations as well as how their brands can best meet these needs.

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