Understanding Consumers in the “Many Africas”

Understanding Consumers in the “Many Africas”

          
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Understanding Consumers in the “Many Africas”

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  • In recent years much has been said and written about Africa’s emerging class of consumers, who are often described as inexhaustibly optimistic, highly brand conscious, Internet savvy, eager to spend, and willing to pay more for quality. These generalizations appear to herald the arrival of a new and meaningful consumer base. Yet the details about African consumers’ specific attitudes toward spending, brands, and the media, and how demographic differences affect those attitudes, have been largely absent—until now.

    BCG’s 2013 Africa Consumer Sentiment Survey, which polled 10,000 consumers across eight of the continent’s largest countries, provides a quantitative database that supports the theory of not one but many consumer classes emerging across the continent. (See “2013 Africa Consumer Sentiment Survey.”) The male and female consumers we interviewed represent a broad range of ages, incomes, education levels, and household types. In addition to exploring the current spending behaviors of African consumers, we asked about what they intended to purchase and how much they planned to spend with regard to more than 20 different product categories, ranging from appliances and automobiles to clothing and snack foods.

    2013 AFRICA CONSUMER SENTIMENT SURVEY

    For more than ten years, BCG has conducted an annual Global Consumer Sentiment Survey to gather information on consumer behaviors and trends across many countries. In 2013, for the first time, BCG added several African countries to the survey, enabling comparisons across the continent and with other emerging markets, such as China, India, and Brazil, as well as with mature markets. Altogether, the global survey reached 40,000 consumers in 25 countries and was conducted in 20 languages.

    In Africa, we surveyed nearly 10,000 urban consumers in eight countries: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. Respondents represented a mix of consumers of different ages and different income and education levels. The survey explored topics related to income, spending, and budgeting; technology, mobile, and Internet usage; preferred retail-shopping locations; and banking habits.

    Additionally, the survey assessed planned expenditures, trading up and down, brand preferences, and shopping behaviors in 20 product categories: automobiles; baby and toddler products; beauty care; beer; breakfast cereals and foods; chocolate and candy; clothing, footwear, and accessories; coffee and tea; consumer electronics; hair care products; health care; home appliances; insurance; mobile phones and devices; packaged food; restaurants and out-of-home eating; snacks; soft drinks and other nonalcoholic beverages; spirits and other alcoholic beverages; and wine.

    Note: This sidebar originally appeared in Winning in Africa: From Trading Posts to Ecosystems (BCG report, January 2014). The Global Consumer Sentiment Survey is sponsored by BCG’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight and funded by the firm’s Global Advantage and Marketing and Sales practices.

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