A recent forum at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg, focusing on marketing concepts and innovations emerging in Africa, provided useful insights into how brands can utilise these to build successful strategies toreach consumers.
Janine Hutton, director of Nielsen’s telecom practice in southern Africa, stressed that companies’ ability to adapt to change in markets, technology and consumer needs will determine their level of success. “More Africans currently have access to mobile phones than clean drinking water. And although there were no smartphones on the continent just four years ago, it is predicted that by 2050 urban sub-Saharan Africans will represent 25% of the world’s users,” Hutton stated.
“South Africa is fourth behind Indonesia, India and the US in terms of smartphone usage with around 6.7m users. In 2012 a smartphone costing less than R1,000 (id=”mce_marker”21.20) will become available in the market, and by 2015 it is predicted that such a device will cost under R300 ($36.36).”
Brett StClair, Google’s head of mobile in South Africa and co-chairman of the Mobile Marketing Assoc of SA, stressed that companies cannot apply developed world solutions into developing markets because of issues like literacy rates, connectivity and price of data.
“At Google, besides investing in pipes and infrastructure that will help to create decent and cheap connectivity, we are focusing on three areas: access, relevance and sustainability.
1. Access. Half-a-billion Africans are currently using mobile phones – these are usually very basic handsets. Cost and accessibility determine usage. In Nigeria, for example, it is common for people to have three phones with pay-as-you-go simcards from three different service providers. They normally use them according to who is offering a better rate or which network is up, depending on the area that they are in. We need to get cheaper smartphones into the market and to improve the price of data, which is currently horrible. Although there is already a id=”mce_marker”00 Android smartphone available, the price needs to come down to about $30 to make it more viable.
2. Relevance. Users need to have a reason to get online, so we need to get locally-relevant content online, including
translating it into the 2,100 available African languages. Mobile web will lead the way in Africa – its impression penetration grew from 1.5bn in 2009 to 5.2bn in 2010. The top two mobile web content areas at the moment are social networks and free downloads. Jamble, which has instant messaging built-in, generates 100m page impressions annually. Free images, screensavers and ringtones generate a huge amount of traffic because people want to make their very basic phones ‘look cool’. I also believe that social media will ultimately enable and encourage
literacy because localised voice searches allow users to talk to their phones, which then translate their requests into text format.
3. Sustainability. We have to get customers knowledgeable and educated by developing communities and providing them with tools so that they can become better engineers and help others to get their businesses online – allowing them to compete in the digital global marketplace.”
In the meantime, Gary Harwood, a director of HKLM design and brand strategy agency, urged marketers to utilise Africa’s original analogue social media network – word of mouth. “Africa is very social, localised and networked so it’s important to interact with and engage communities. This can, for instance, be done at viewing centres where soccer enthusiasts – who can’t afford their own televisions – gather to watch local games or at newspaper rental stands.”
“The three key global trends driving smartphone adoption are entertainment, immediacy and shopping. One in three searches is local, and after looking up a local business on a smartphone – 61% of users call that business immediately and 59% visit the premises. 79% of smartphone internet users use their phone to help with shopping, while 74% make a purchase as a result of using their phone while shopping.”
– Brett StClair, Google South Africa’s head of mobile