Marketing to the Emerging Consuming Class of Africa
By: BCG Perspectives January 30, 2013
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 $1tr by 2020 and will offer access to millions of new customers.
Over the past 10 years, growth in Africa's GDP has surpassed worldwide averages, fueling optimism and a sense of progress among consumers on the continent. Consistently, African consumers shared phrases such as, "This generation has it much better than our parents' generation did,"¯ and "The economy is much better today."¯ Urbanization is one factor driving progress and opportunity. As one young man said, "My life today is better than life was for my parents...they lived in villages, we live in cities. City life is much better: cities have amenities, more development, more knowledge."¯ Although one finds less-optimistic consumer sentiment in regions that have experienced political turmoil over the past two years"”in North Africa for example"”the vast majority of Africans believe that tomorrow will be better than today.