Africa goes digital: how brands may reach their target audience in this region

  • 31 AUGUST
  • Author: Lizaveta Zhuk

The Internet was designed to deliver convenience, quickness and power; power to know everything, power to connect with favorite brands, power to buy and sell online. And Africa is no exception. Entrepreneurs across the continent began embracing the power of the internet and setting up their online stories. Then, COVID-19 hit, and everything changed.  

Let’s discuss how African consumers rethink their shopping habits.  As a marketer, the best way to maximize the return on investment of media spending is to truly understand consumer behavior. Considering such tendencies may be a turning  point for whether you are able to achieve long-term success or not. 

Let’s break down the African online consumer behavior in our article and how to apply these trends in ad strategies to outperform KPIs. 

Offline or online shopping? Africans choose both options.  

With the growth in internet penetration and technologies adoption, the picture is clear: Africans are gradually adopting internet technology and online shopping. This process has grown since the pandemic hit and forced users to rethink their shopping habits. The internet offers a safe and convenient way to purchase items without leaving the comfort of home, so in Africa, just like everywhere else, users have come to choose online more often. Based on the research, the number of online shoppers will increase by 40.19% by 2027.

Source: Statista

However, offline shopping still remains popular across many African countries. African users often choose and prefer in-store shopping (mainly, corner-shop or dukas) where they can see, touch, and examine items before making a purchase. Also, it may be related to limited access to the internet, the importance of personal relationships in African culture and, what’s more important, affordability. 

For instance, Kenyans may purchase products in any of the Navines or Quickmart supermarkets in Nairobi or one of the malls in the city. However, many consumers in Kenya can’t afford to do that as the goods there are expensive and malls are too few — the largest of Kenya’s supermarket chain Navines, for example, has only 84 shops throughout the entire country. So it’s much easier to purchase necessary goods that are cheaper in street shops in the nearest corner with no travel expenses, and Kenyans just do it. 

Shop online, research online

Although Africans shop both online and offline, researching online has picked up across Africa. Moreover, first discovery via the internet touchpoints is a key trend in the region and the main step of upper-funnel discovery and awareness step of customer journeys. Consumers across the region are thoroughly researching products online, and for many, social media and search engines are the main sources of brand research.

Source: DataReportal

Social media on the rise

Social networks are one of the main drivers of customer behavior. It’s no surprise. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, play a significant role in Africa’s customers’ daily life — they rely on social media to discover new brands, read reviews, follow on influencers, and make purchase decisions.
According to DataReportal, users use social media not only to keep in touch with friends and family but also to find new brands and products. Reasons may be different from town to town but generally they have one common characteristic — they drive customer behavior.  So, it’s important to consider.

Don’t forget about Boomers 

When it comes to online shopping, it always seems that younger generations shake the digital world. It’s true that Zoomers are the biggest generation in the world. Africa isn’t an exception. 

Sometimes, brands may focus ad impressions on young users in order to get more conversions. Meanwhile, Boomers may get the smallest part of ad impressions. Following the same strategy in Africa may be a mistake. For instance, Kenyans aged 55 and up are more likely to shop online. Moreover, 41% of users this age had made purchases online, compared to 30% of Zoomers and Millennials. 

Source: Think with Google

Older shoppers also have purchasing power, and all generations research brand and product online before making a purchase. 

Price conscious consumers 

If we speak about the pain points of African consumers, price is a crucial factor influencing consumer behavior. Many Africans are price sensitive across different product categories. This often leads to choosing more affordable products but still seeking quality products at the same time. 
At the same time, consumers want more flexibility in how they shop. In South Africa, in-store shoppers try to avoid long queues (50% of in-store shoppers) and stock shortages (28% of in-store shoppers) as one of the main pain points. In order to avoid them, customers prefer self-service options in-store. Also, many of them prefer to try click-and-collect options such as hybrid shopping experience — when users order necessary items online and pick up from the store or use apps in-store to browse for products.

How to reach African consumers efficiently? 

Let’s look at four points that are here to help your business to launch ad campaigns smarter and how you can craft advertising strategies to meet customers on their way. 

Try to build long term relationships 

As customers adopt different shopping behaviors, try to find more flexibility and high-quality with lower prices, brands need to find a way to suit. Comprehensive ad strategy leads users from awareness to the “embedded” stage — at which point a brand is so firmly entrenched it’s hard to imagine life without it. 

But what is a comprehensive strategy? Advertising through customer journey. Throughout the user journey, brands need to build emotional connections powered by personalization and inspiration to action. So two important components of ad campaigns are media mix and ad creatives. Choosing channels for an advertising campaign, try to include mediamix different channels with high likelihood of meeting a target audience. For instance, if Instagram is popular among the target audience, then include it in your campaign. Customer journey analytics may help you to understand user journeys and choose better connection spots. You can learn more about it here

As far as creatives are concerned, it’s important to not be limited by one advertisement. It’s much better to design several ones for different audience segments and stages of the sales funnel as well as ad platform. We talk more about creating high-effective ad creatives here

Provide personalized experience 

From the way users network, to the way users get their news and shop, they are slowly but surely moving everything online. The thing is, the internet is overloaded with content, and users are tired of consuming it. If the content is irrelevant to website visitors, they will ignore it — and advertisements aren’t an exception.   

Personalization is the best way to find connection with an audience. Brands may use dynamic creative optimization as a tool of providing relevant messages to the target audience. DCO technology uses one template of ad creative and changes different parts of it depending on audience interest, behavior, context and so on. This helps to resonate stronger with the audience, get competitive advantage in an overloaded digital world and creates feelings of eye-to-eye communication with a customer.

Run, test, analyze, improve

As a marketer, the best way to maximize return on the investment of ad spend is to truly understand consumer behavior. And the best way to attain that understanding is real ad campaign data, because what users react to and what is giving conversions are the best reflection of the things they truly like. Running ad campaigns and accurately analyzing them, brands may find an ideal strategy for promoting their products and services. Also, it’s essential to test different components of the ad campaign such as channels, ad creatives, ad copies, audience segments and so on. It helps adjust ad campaigns on time and get stronger results. 

Moreover, testing and analyzing help to find legitimacies and insights that may be crucial for your success. 

 Run advertising on social media

As social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok are growing in popularity among Africans it makes them ideal platforms for promoting brands’ products and services. These platforms provide brands a wide range of ad formats from images, texts, carousels to stories and videos to illustrate benefits of promoting products. A well-developed social media campaign may not only drive users’ engagement, awareness and interest but also increase brands’ revenue — as we said above, social media is one of the main drivers of customers’ behavior. 

One more pros of social media is that they offer native interactions with users. All advertising notes are organically embedded in the content. So if users like a promo post or stories, they will share it with friends. That may lead to organic increase awareness and reach.

Implement DOOH ad into your strategy

As Africans prefer in-store and street shopping, brands may reach them with digital out-of-home advertising. It’s digital screens in public places such as streets, bus stops, supermarkets, airports, near roads and so on. The advertisement will appear in front of pedestrians when the amount of an advertiser is high. 

DOOH offers brands wide opportunities on different sales funnel stages. Due to the large screen and high reach at one moment, it helps drive brand awareness. Placing advertisements near places where users may buy promoting products (for example, in supermarkets), brands may increase conversions and profit. Learn more about DOOH ads opportunities in our article here.   

Programmatic rules the digital world

And helps brands not to puzzle one’s brains over advertising campaigns. Based on AI & ML algorithms, programmatic is able to show relevant advertisements to the target audience at the right place. So you no longer need to choose the right channels and relevant ads — a programmatic platform will do this for you.

We are experts in programmatic advertising for more than 10 years. During this period, we are proud that we help our clients solve different business challenges successfully. And we are here to help you to achieve the business outcomes you are looking for. 

Make sure of the efficiency of programmatic advertising based on the real example of our client.

How we helped a shoe store drive sells and revenue with programmatic advertising

Our client is a shoe store in Nairobi that offers a wide range of goods in-store and online with delivery. With the rise of competition and a tough year, the client was challenged with advertising the products to keep the brand top of mind and increase sales. In order to reach high-intent users and drive conversions, the shoe store approached us to use the power of programmatic to boost the efficiency of ads and profit.

Pre-campaign launch, our team analyzes the client’s target audience. Once the target audience was defined, we divided it into groups and, using data from NT DMP and our partners, created unique custom audience segments to focus only on high-intent target users for efficient interaction across channels. During the three months of the ad campaign, a comprehensive ad strategy included several ad channels: display, social, and search. With different ad formats (banners, promo posts and stories on Facebook and Instagram), we delivered the brand’s messages and drove users’ interest. Search ads and dynamic retargeting helped us increase conversions. 

Additionally, our team had focused on the following for three months of the ad campaign: 

  • Conducted A/B-testing to define the most efficient ad creatives and optimize ad budget spending. 
  • Developed and changed different ad creatives to avoid banner blindness and maintain users’ engagement. 
  • Tested different combinations of targeting options, audience segments, and channels to choose the most efficient one and scale ad campaigns and profit.
  • Used both manual and automatic optimization to decrease CPO and drive the key KPIs of the ad campaign — Conversion Rate, conversions, and so on. 

Thus, we achieved the client’s tasks, and achieve 323 conversions.

Bottom line

Africans are, step by step, going digital, and brands need to consider it as well as peculiarities of the region in ad strategies. It may be difficult to do by yourself so we want to help you to achieve success in Africa. Reach to us today, to increase profit tomorrow:

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