Africa is not easily pigeonholed, and making generalizations about its consumers is a risky proposition. The continent has 1 billion inhabitants—speaking more than 2,100 languages and spanning 54 countries that cover an area larger than China, the U.S., India, and Europe combined. Despite this diversity, one thing is clear, however: a new consumer class is emerging across Africa—one with increasing purchasing power and a hunger for products and services that once seemed unattainable. For forward-looking companies, these growing markets will be worth well over $1 trillion by 2020 and will offer access to millions of new customers.
Through our extensive work and travel across the continent, we’ve met and talked with many of these new consumers about their dreams and desires, as well as their product and brand preferences, purchasing habits, and other consumer behaviors. We were struck by ten characteristics that these consumers shared in common; each has implications for multinational and local companies.