Nielsen provides a unique and in-depth view into the diverse behaviors and attitudes that shape the diversity of the African consumer. Through extensive research into the retail infrastructure and a comprehensive survey of urban and peri-urban consumers across Sub-Saharan Africa, Nielsen knows how Africans think, buy, and consume media. Based on these insights, seven unique consumer segmentations provide an intimate look into the diverse needs that will not only highlight latent potential of these countries, but will also enable accurate decision making to confidently determine where, when and how to invest in African markets.
With over one billion consumers—a number growing faster than that of any other continent—Africa boasts a wealth of potential. The young and quickly growing population, paired with a rising gross domestic product (GDP) that has grown faster than the rest of the world every year since 20011, make Africa a vital market brimming with opportunity. Traditionally viewed as an impoverished continent with little discretionary spending, Africa’s middle class is growing at an astounding rate and the GDP per capita (PPP) has grown 26 percent in the past 10 years2. With its steadily rising incomes, Africa offers vast potential and rewarding growth opportunities.
Despite the exciting opportunities and considerable promise of the African continent, doing business here also comes with significant challenges. Aside from political turmoil, wide income disparities, and infrastructure shortfalls, one of the biggest issues facing marketers in Africa is its diversity. Rather than just a continent, Africa must be viewed as 54 separate and distinct countries with a wide array of political, economic, geographical, cultural and social features. Even a single country like Nigeria has over 250 different ethnic groups and over 500 languages3. In addition to the differences separated by international borders, many African countries also boast incredible levels of internal diversity, which are impacted heavily by their respective colonial histories. By and large, local consumers in each of the markets studied have remained loyal to the consumption patterns and ethnic tastes of their former colonial rulers. This fragmented cultural landscape presents a unique challenge to marketers trying to tailor their message to African consumers.
In Africa, income disparities and diverse attitudes lead to very different buy and watch habits across both consumer segments and geographical regions. Pricing, promotion and distribution strategies will have to be modulated depending on the intended consumer segment or country. Tier 1 consumers will require much different product offerings and messages than the lower income Tier 3 consumers. And media strategies in Internet-savvy Kenya will differ from those in Zambia.
With a large, young, and rapidly growing consumer base, the emergent opportunities in Africa are likewise bountiful. In order to realize the growing potential that Africa offers, an intimate knowledge and understanding of the African consumers is critical. Getting into the mind of the African consumer to understand the beliefs and attitudes that drive buy and watch behaviors will be the key to unlocking Africa’s potential.