By Louise Marsland
A strong, aspirant emerging middle class, a tech boom, media and brand opportunities and the only continent with untapped growth, make the African continent an increased focus of large multinationals for 2015, despite over-emphasis on war and disease recently in global headlines.
www.trendwatching.com has just released its December TREND. Bulletin with 10 Africa TREND.s for 2015. The international trends site started an Africa focus a couple of years ago – as did every other major research house over the last few years – because demand for consumer insight in Africa is growing from big brands operating in Africa.
It’s Africa’s time no doubt, but do you have the time for Africa? Or are you mired in recession depression and disease-fuelled paranoia or war-ravaged restraint? Our beautiful continent is diverse indeed and so much more than a bad news headline.
The stats make sense: seven African countries fall into the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world; it is a baby-booming continent with the fastest growing youth population in the world; the second biggest continent in the world with 1.1 billion people; and a strongly-aspirant emerging middle class.
www.trendwatching.com reports that growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to accelerate to 5.8% (IMF, October 2014) and this is driven by the “convergence of a number of big shifts”:
- Expanding middle classes.
- Productive urban centres.
- Improved education.
- Increasing mobile penetration.
- Greater access to credit.
- Consumer demands for opportunities.
Africa has a compelling story and it is being told and now heard. I was at AfricaCast in Cape Town this week, the broadcast stream at AfricaCom, Africa’s premier digital conference, and heard speaker after speaker from the continent and abroad telling us about the growth and need for content on the continent; and how many more media channels and content are needed to service the demand of consumers. It was inspiring.
These are www.trendwatching.com’s 10 Africa TREND.s for 2015. While rather light on content and depth, they do reiterate what brands need to do on the continent and it is packaged very nicely. There are also some great South African examples to illustrate the trends:
- ‘Heart on sleeves’ – Confident celebration of cultural heritage which will influence consumption of Made in Africa products, more demand on African brands, and the need to use culture-specific brand stories in communication.
- ‘Info-chameleons’– Young Africa wants creative, entertaining information, not bland content force fed by Governments. They are increasingly online and want more choice.
- ‘Benevolent Brands–Brands need to solve problems and serve the consumer on this continent, not just sell stuff. This is essential to earn trust.
- ‘Destination Africa’– African tourism is increasing internally as savvy tour operators target the African consumer too.
- ‘Better Tech’– Smarter technology solutions to improve lives and empower communities is what the African consumer wants. Google’s connected classroom is one example given.
- ‘Creative Cross-polynations’– Collaboration, curation and creation are the watchwords of the continent’s creative communities.
- ‘Eco-reverence’ – African-made, sustainable solutions are in the offering for the eco-conscious consumer.
- ‘New African deal’ – Economic development needs to include the impoverished as well as the economically active on the continent and brands need to be inclusive.
- ‘On-demand Delight’ – Technology that works, is easy to use and delivers is what the on-demand African consumer wants.
- ‘Brand Stands’ – Brands need to stand for something as a concientised African consumer demands more transparency and honesty of their Governments and their brands.
Source: Louise Marsland is the Publishing Editor of TRENDAFRiCA.co.za. This trends column was first published on Bizcommunity.com.