I have just spent a wonderful couple of weeks in South Africa with BP. Five days spent running a Fundamentals of Marketing course and a few days of R&R getting to know the country better. Based on this and a few weeks working with Microsoft in Kenya, I can certainly not pretend to be an expert. But, I thought my observations would be interesting and I'd be fascinated by what people who live and work here think about my comments....
1) Africa is a continent of Cities. Think cities not countries when you are planning your campaigns. Populations, commerce and technology are concentrated in the cities. Whilst Cities only take up a tiny percentage of the land, they take up a massive proportion of people and businesses. Each city is different even within the same country.
2) The African economy is growing. Is Africa the next China? It could well be
3) Nigeria is over taking South Africa as the largest economy below the arabic states. Lagos is already the biggest city in Africa and it is growing fast. There are 1.2 million babies under the age of 4 in Lagos alone (out of a total populatiomn of just over 10 million). Cairo is the 2nd biggest city and Johannesburg is 3rd. Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit
4) The wealthiest Cities are in the North (Algiers, Tunis, Casablanca) and of course South Africa (Cape Town, JoBurg, Durban) and Lagos in Nigeria.
5) Luanda in Angola has the biggest family size.
6) Race is not a taboo issue in South Africa. People are proud of their heritage and openly describe themselves as black, white, coloured, indian etc. When discussing segmentation, I was surprised that people suggested doing it on the basis of race. I assume that decades of apartheid has meant that people have grown used to doing so, but it was still a surprise to me.
7) If you can afford it, as everywhere in the world, people love to spend on brands. Many brands launch here a couple of years after they have become big in the States or Europe. When they come here, it causes a degree of excitement and anticipation. Retailers want to stock global names and the people have an appetite for buying them.
8) Labour is neither a scarce or expensive resource. Businesses are encouraged to employ as many people as possible and often there are 3 people doing what 1 person may do in the UK (such as waiters in restaurants, porters in hotels or security guards on trains and car parks). Those people multi skill. The guy who serves you lunch in the hotel is a security guard, driver and may well work inthe garden too. People are resourceful, they work hard and have no issues with doing jobs that are not what they were trained to do.
9) Education is king. People with very little money, find the cash for school uniform. Kids walk for hours if necessary to go to school. Education is the way out of the townships and they know it. For those people who have worked their way out of the townships, they cannot forget their roots. They help family members and will sacrifice their own holidays or gadgets, so that their family have the same as them. If they can afford a smart phone, they will only get one if they can also get one for other family members. There is a sense of duty, pride (and maybe even guilt at times) that drives this.
10) Mobile is key to your success. If you don't have reliable wifi / internet or even electricity, there will be a mobile signal. Brands should focus on mobile as it is so key to people's lives. If you live a long distance away and there is no public transport, your mobile is your connection with the world.