With so many African countries enjoying economic growth and
increasing stability, global brands are rushing to get involved.
They are expanding their offerings into new markets at an enormous
rate, joined by South African companies spreading north on the
continent. All of these brands want to be the first to satisfy the
needs of these new emerging middle class consumers, but few of them
are investing in understanding the societies they are trying to
This gives rise to the question: how can they do it well? How
can global - or South African - brands expand into Africa in a way
that is relevant to the local markets?
The approach that allows for maximum flexibility is to create a
portfolio of different brands for different countries. SABMiller,
for example, has Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, but 2M and Laurentina in
Mozambique. This has proven to be highly successful in the beer
category, but this approach is also the most expensive. It costs
money to build brands, and most companies are looking to maximise
efficiencies by rolling out monolithic brands.
And it is possible to achieve relevance with a single brand.
KFC, for example, has localised so successfully in South Africa
that it consistently ranks among South Africa's favourite brands.
BMW's aspirational brand is well known in South Africa. But does
BMW mean the same thing in South Africa as it does in Germany? Do
Nigerians shop at Shoprite for the same reason that Ugandans do?
If the same brand means something completely different in
different markets it leads to the brand positioning becoming
We think a few simple ways to avoid this problem are:
Getting the balance right between localisation and relevance on
one hand, and staying true to a clearly defined brand positioning
on the other hand, is one of the greatest challenges for marketing
brands that are expanding into new territories. But those that get
it right will enjoy success in a variety of different markets, as
they expand across the continent.