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Why ‘Doing business In Africa Is Easier Than You May Think’

February 28, 2015

Doing business in Africa is easier than you may think, according to African marketing expert Carol Abade.

Abade is the Kenayn CEO of South Africa-based Exp, which describes itself as Africa’s largest and leading experiential marketing agency, with offices in Angola, DRC, Ghana, Guinea Bassau, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Twenty years after South Africa became a democracy, “we have still not figured out Africa,” Abade said.

Too often it is said that Africa is a difficult place to do business, Abade said. The problem is that brands don’t want to do the long-haul work required to be successful in Africa.

Abade was guest speaker at a recent Yellowood Group presentation held in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Based in South Africa and Kenya, Yellowood is a marketing strategy, brand development and design consultancy. The presentations launched Yellowood‘s latest research, entitled “African Attitudes: Marketing beyond the numbers.”

Here’s more on what Abade — and Yellowood managing director David Blyth — say about what we think about when we think about doing business in Africa.

“(Brands) miss opportunities because of campaigns that are translated,” Abade said. “Language is not about words and copy, but about heart and soul. Your campaign must be based on human truths and developed through strategy, not translation. Local is important so understand resident nuances. Real wisdom is when a brand can tap into resources in each market and know how to interact with consumers in those markets.”

Different cultures

History is important, Abade said, because it impacts on behavior. Therefore, Kenya has a strong British and English culture, while French-speaking territories are rooted on culture, arts and music. Uganda and Kenya may both be in East Africa, but their cultures are completely different.

Tradition, religion and family are strong influences. “’50 shades of Grey’ was banned in a number of African countries and did not even make it to Kenya. In France, it was only given a 12-and-under rating. This speaks to the way we portray people in advertisements and reflecting people as they are in these societies,” she said.

Take an inside-out approach


David Blyth, managing director at Yellowwood, said that in Africa, brands need to think about how they can give back. Displacement is not growth; instead brands need to create opportunities for people. This includes not dumping goods that are about to expire on our doorstep. If it is not good enough for another market, it is not good enough for Africa, and this includes products that are second rate.”

To change the view of Africa that the world has, Blyth believes an inside-out approach is needed. “The era of being successful just because you are on the continent is over. Marketers need to start with the African consumer, understand their unique context and needs. A make-once, sell-many-times (approach) is losing relevance – not only in Africa but globally, with all consumers looking for personalization.”

Only brands that understand African attitudes and archetypes will survive. The research found what is most important to Africans are (in this order), family, God, health, education, money, love, friends, and then others.

Out of these, Yellowwood built a number of African archetypes to better understand what African consumers expect from brands…

…Marketers need to remember — and understand — that in Africa proximity is not meaningful, as two neighboring markets can be vastly different, Blyth said. “Strategy needs to focus more on attitude than proximity. Never underestimate the power of local knowledge and create your own uniquely African story.”

Source: AFK Insider

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Art of Tea - Tea of the Month