Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

A pan-African consumer survey by data analytics and branding consultancy Kantar reveals what the company calls a new, infectious sense of shared identity that’s bringing Africans together, redefining what being African means to its people, inspiring bolder aspirations and igniting a sense of urgency for growth.

The study provides a mine of new data for SA brands doing or wanting to do business in the continent.

In recent years many local brands, not understanding the complexities, the nuances and the vagaries of other African markets, have packed up and left the continent, some with their tails between their legs.

Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Kenyan consultancy Mentoria Economics, told The Africa Report website that many SA firms have replicated business models that worked for them in their home market without considering the habits and tastes of consumers beyond their borders.

Kantar’s "Africa Life" report says technology is transforming the continent "at a staggering pace", opening new opportunities and augmenting existing ones. The future of Africa, says the study, is being rapidly reshaped by the digital creativity of its people, especially that of younger generations. "No prospective view or growth is possible without a thorough understanding of how digital is reshaping African lifestyles. Connected consumers want more. The world is a global village and Africa a compound," says the report.

Kantar says consumers are also turning as much outwards as inwards. "They increasingly look for products and messages they can relate to, experiences that connect with who they truly are, messaging that resonates with what they care [about] and the environment they live in. Being African has a new meaning. Culture is the new marketing currency."

When it comes to SA’s continental identity, the report says it is now on the verge of reconnecting with other countries. This observation will give some solace to brands, some of which have experienced a degree of antagonism in the past.

One marketing director, whose company has made a foray into other countries in Africa, tells the FM: "We didn’t fully appreciate business systems and legal codes and that was perceived as being arrogant. We had to learn lessons in market assimilation very quickly."

Brands wanting to pursue an expansion strategy further into Africa patently need to adopt a digital-first mind-set, given the high growth of internet penetration over the past two years.

Nigeria has increased this number by 22 percentage points, Senegal by 13 and Kenya by 10. The Kantar study shows that Generation Z — those born between 1997 and 2021 — is the most connected target group across Sub-Saharan Africa. In the valuable 20-24-year age group, 94% are connected in SA and 85% in Nigeria.

One opportunity for brands to exploit is the video-streaming space, where only 53% of Generation Z members are engaged in the activity but where a surge of growth is taking place.

Brands would also do well to look at the huge potential in gaming across the continent. There has in recent years been phenomenal growth in this field in Senegal and Kenya. And of more immediate interest to brands is the growth in the first half of 2021 of mobile apps — up 41% in the first nine months.

In-app purchasing revenue has risen by 136% in that same period and in-app advertising revenue by 40%.

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