Op-Ed: Five key facts about African consumers

PUBLISHED: Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:00:38 GMT

Africa offers a vast and fast-growing consumer market.  A billion people live on the continent, with the population expected to double by 2050.  Not only do African consumers represent a world of opportunity, they also want a quality experience, the same as other customers across the globe.

Africa’s consumers are flourishing due to a variety of major factors in addition to population growth. The African economy is expected to grow 50% in the next few years, double the rate of developed markets, according to the Deloitte Consumer Review.  More Africans live in urban centers which tend to drive economic activity. 

Africa is also a young market.  Currently some 200 million Africans, about 20% of the population, are between the ages of 15 and 24, a figure expected to rise to 321 million by 2030, Deloitte says.  Young consumers want the latest and tend to seek the best in products, services and technology.

The following facts further illustrate the enormous potential of consumers in Africa.

Consumers are attached to their smartphones.  More than 33% of Africans check their phones every five minutes and within five minutes of waking up, according to the Game of Phones Survey conducted by Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications unit.  Smartphones draw a billion glances in Africa every day, the survey says. 

More consumers are digitally-savvy.  The growth of mobile technology has allowed African consumers to “leapfrog” poor landline infrastructure, notes the Deloitte consumer report.  Young consumers in particular are “mobile ready,” with one in five buying a product or service via their phones.

They demand quality and are brand-conscious.  The Rise of the African Consumer, a McKinsey paper, says that both quality and brand matter to African consumers when they are making buying decisions.  Some 58% of consumers are brand loyal and many are willing to pay a higher price for well-known brands.

They have more money to spend.  Between 2000 and 2012, Africa’s total household expenditure grew more than 10% annually, reaching $1.3 trillion, Deloitte says.  McKinsey cites an “emerging, optimistic consumer class,” with more than half of African households projected to have discretionary income by 2020 and 84% anticipating that their households will be better off in the future. 

They want a modern shopping experience.  Urban African consumers are no different from consumers worldwide in that they have modern, sophisticated tastes.

The rise of the consumer culture in Africa mirrors the continent’s growth into the 21st Century.  The facts show that African consumers essentially are no different from those everywhere else.  For smart businesses and brands, meeting Africa’s burgeoning consumer demand could also lead to dramatic growth in the years ahead.

Zandre Campos is chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, an international investment firm that invests in companies in the healthcare, energy, transportation, hospitality, technology and real estate sectors throughout Africa. ABO’s mission is to create global value for developing countries in Africa, while contributing to their economic development.

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