For those who have been lucky enough to travel around Africa, it
probably seemed at first that there are a lot of commonalities
between countries - and there are. But the biggest mistake you can
make is viewing the rest of the continent as a single, homogenous
entity. It is in Africa that you will find the greatest diversity,
not only in places but in people and cultures as well.
Many of Africa's economies, at an early stage of economic
development, are now growing rapidly - creating exciting new
markets and opportunities for foreign direct investment and new
brand entries. But it is this blinding prospect of rapid business
growth that has led so many brands to rush northwards unprepared,
only to return with holes in their pockets.
So how do you ensure that your brands are geared for success in
Identifying market gaps and opportunities:
The media often depicts Africa as a dangerous place with little
regulation and stability. Those challenges are real, but only half
of the story. Understand the challenges, but the opportunities are
just as important. Explore the factors that define the market -
from infrastructure and distribution channels to local innovations.
Without this vital strategic input brands looking to enter Africa
certainly face a rocky road ahead.
A practical tip to do this:
Segmentating your market:
When looking to expand into other African countries, brands need
to understand the people they are marketing to. Research the
social, cultural and historical influences in the country. Make
sure you have segmented the market and understand the various
customer segments well enough to tap into their conscious and
subconscious needs and drivers. Brands should be able to tailor
their brand proposition and business offering, to cater to the
needs of their new market. Market research is a challenge in many
markets, so get out there to see for yourself how your brands can
create value and become relevant to the African consumer.
Some practical ways to apply this:
Localising your marketing strategy
It's important to build local insight into your brand's
marketing strategies. While the broad objectives and goals can
match the global strategy, the"how"needs to build in local nuances
in various markets. Monitor what works and what does not work,
respond and adapt and learn. While the market may still be untapped
in many instances, it will not remain so for long - and consumers
will only consume the brands that are relevant to them.
Some practical ways to do this:
Brands looking to extend into Africa need to do their homework.
Africa is tough - its markets have vast differences in business
practice, consumer preference, behaviour and culture. Success means
figuring out how your brands can add value to African consumers,
and making sure your marketing strategy taps into the unique
psychologies and infrastructural constraints of each