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How consumer insight can boost African brands

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African brands need to be confident enough to position themselves as the best. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Brand Africa 100 last week unveiled Kenya’s Most Admired Brands at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

This follows the global release of Africa’s Best Brands at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange in May.

This year, African brands faltered to an all-time low of 14 percent share of the Top 100 most admired brands in the continent. A trend that Geopoll has noted — Africa’s share of the most admired brands has been declining over the past three years from a high of 25 percent in 2013/14, 16 percent in 2015/16, 16 percent in 2016/17 and 17 percent in 2017/18.

In Kenya, Kenya Airways, Citizen TV, Safaricom, Tusker and KCB are the leading Made in Kenya brands in a list that is 50 percent African (Kenyan) and 50 percent non-African. Other top brands were Coca Cola, Samsung, Airtel, Apple and Nike.

Whereas Kenya has tried to balance between Kenyan originated brands and global brands, the big question is, while acknowledging the growing influence of global brands in Africa, how can African-made brands increase relevance and become more appealing to the African market and beyond?

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From experience, building a brand is a well calculated and tested process that requires sufficient time and patience — it is a marathon and not a sprint. Building a successful brand requires consistent investment in the brand, from market research, consumer insight mining, product development to marketing and distribution, among other factors. It also requires significant investment in brand building, through advertising and communication, with consistent messaging that connects with the consumer emotionally and rationally.

Many firms fail in brand building because they look for immediate results, forgetting that it is a game of consistency over many years.

Why? Because modern consumers are bombarded with so much information and many products that a brand needs to work hard to stand out in their mind. It is, therefore, critical to maintaining brand presence even after attaining the ultimate brand equity.

To build a successful brand, start with the consumer at the heart of the brand as opposed to profits. Most businesses focus on how to make money fast. With this approach, they often find themselves applying short-term sales driven strategies that give short-term success and do nothing for the longevity of the brand and brand equity.

Consumer insight and product value proposition are what creates the brand purpose. Why the brand exists must be very closely linked to the consumer insight and seek to deliver this brand purpose through a compelling brand promise.

Consumer insight seeks to understand the reasons behind the choices a consumer makes, that’s not limited to the ability to purchase or availability of products. It drives almost subconscious decision-making, which is hinged on one’s aspirations, mindset, motivation and desires. It transcends demographics and socio-economic status of the consumer, geographic location and language.

African brands need to be confident enough to position themselves as the best, have the ability to deliver a different product, have great quality and a unique proposition that meets the customer needs, be it local or global.

The writer is General Manager Marketing, Communication, and Citizenship at NIC Bank.

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