70% of Africa’s population is less than 30 years old: this is the youngest continent! More than 50% of all Africans over the age of 15 own at least one mobile phone. 75% of Africans don’t have a bank account. 75% use internet every single day.
The young and urban is part of most of The African Consumer Trends 2017 that I present at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam the Netherlands this Friday 20 of January for the Southern African Chamber of Commerce (SANEC) and the Netherlands Africa Business Council (NABC).
A trend I discuss is the Post Call Era where Africans want to maximize their cells, use it for so many things beyond just calls. This opens great opportunities for local and global innovators, investors, product designers and project managers.
From Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya to Ethiopia, DR Congo, South Africa, I take you into my field explorations and in-depth analyses of how Africans feel, what they want, how they spend.
I provide real-world examples, keys to opportunities and exclusive insights.
More event info: www.sanec.nl
Here we go again. In this end-year shopping season, Made-in-China toys have invaded various markets across Africa. They have landed in places that have been waiting for them feverishly. In everyday conversations, some of the narratives that have defined 2016 – the jobs wiped out by the oil crisis, the prices gone up due to the plunging currencies – are KO’ed by the eagerness to spend, the irresistible taste for trying new things. Streets are lavishly covered with adverts, radio and TV play commercials with the highest rotation, malls and stores promote their extended opening hours and oversupplied shelves. Consumers are salivating, hypnotized, under heavy influence. Stakes are high.
So Chinese merchants don’t bother with establishing stores, decorating windows, promoting products. They just find an empty, warehouse-like space in a popular market, unload the trucks, expose the merchandise straight from the box and open the doors. In a matter of minutes, shopper masses rush to the items. In these hard discount bazaars and fast shopping kingdoms, space is scarce, the heat is unbearable, the noise is deafening, the darkness is omnipresent. Brawls, stampedes, even fights erupt. Sales people are trampled, security staffs are overwhelmed. In comparison to the chaotic Black Friday sales in the USA, the scenes here have an equal degree of violence (albeit sans guns).
Convinced that everything is in limited stock, everything is new, everything is wanted by the next shopper, shoppers are obsessed, ecstatic about the “treasure hunt”. Perceiving that the prices are still high and can go further down – even though they are already amazingly low – shoppers bargain hard with the sales staff. Add the yelling and fingering, the language barrier, the contagious nervosity, the people changing their minds repeatedly, the last-minute let-me-take-that-too; and you get extremely long waiting lines at cashiers. On average, shoppers spend four-to-five hours in these toy stores…which actually sell much more than toys. There you also find condoms, DIY tools, clothes, shoes, ustensils, school stuffs, umbrellas, snacks, sunglasses, cellphones, chairs, luggages, pillows, radios, plastic buckets, trash bags, lamps, napkins, cosmetics, fake flowers, and the list goes on and on. It looks like China manufactures, exports and sells everything you need.
Yet, the families I meet after their shopping spree are happy to have their hands firmly tightened on bundles of cheap, flashy toys and many other things they hadn’t planned to purchase. They are deeply seduced by the choice and the prices. Some are perplex when they found out the total money they spent or how they will bring all the stuffs back home.
But families also expect that there will be not much left of these toys in the hands of children in a matter of weeks. The balls will burst, the dolls will be dismembered, the guitars will lose their strings, and finally all the toys will end up in the trash without the slightest hesitation.
Africans massively buy Chinese toys for what they are – frequent purchase, rapid consumption, low involvement – and adhere to what Chinese merchants wrote in poor french or english at the door – “no refund, no exchange, no repair”. As much as African consumers want quality and durability when deciding on a purchase, when it comes to toys and certain product categories, they go for the cheap, unbranded, extremely fast moving.
One reason is that durability is less of a concern than it used to be. In today’s Africa, consumers are more open to new brands, new tastes, new trends, particularly the young, urban and educated crowds. This leads us to a set of questions:
- For which products and brands consumers choose quality/durability over price?
- For which products and brands would they pay a premium?
- What’s the future of Western brands in African consumers’ wallets?
- What does it take for consumers to show greater affinity for Made-in-Africa?
I will be answering these questions in Amsterdam The Netherlands on January 20, 2017. At the famous Heineken Experience venue, I will be presenting “The African Consumer Trends 2017″. It’s an exclusive delivery, a product of months-long cross-country field research, and a wealth of actionable insights. More information on www.sanec.nl.