If it takes about $50.000 to buy a transport truck, how many trucks do I need to become rich? Wait… why we need the trucks for? Agriculture employs 65 percent of Africa’s labor force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product. We carry food from villages to cities: chili, beans, rice, meat, sugar. Speaking of sugar, it literally made the days of the young Aliko Dangote –the richest man in Africa- catapulting him on top of a $billion empire.
Everyone wants to make a fortune in Africa. Selling primary products is the shortest way to get there. Unfortunately, this does not lead to profitable growth, job creation and sustainable development that Africa needs right now. Here are 4 ways branding and design will change the game:
Perception: We buy based on an impression, feelings, and memories. How many times have we told ourselves “I’ll never fly this company again, they are not professional!”; “This Smartphone is too complicated; I cannot even simply upload my pictures to my computer and vice versa.” From the brand will come the discernment that leads to customer’s loyalty. These are consumers who are always ready to pay more to stay true to their feelings. The dream of every marketing department.
Value: The African market is staggering in terms of quality, customer service, and innovative ideas. Design can bring: valuable customers, better services and products, healthy competition, dynamic companies. Yet, people attach importance only to expensive things. “Freemium” continues to plumb a continent where people would rather buy overpriced brands from overseas.
Difference & Positioning: The trucks design might be same, logistics and management processes are different from one company to another. In an economic environment where we buy mostly because we have no choice, we are still waiting for the real game changers, with true visions that will change our lives. Nowadays the price is the only motivator. From that point on, companies become commodities.
Experience: What consumers like? What they reject? Where the numbers are? Which campaign did not work? We know none of these parameters. And we are still making commercials that miss the point all the time, because nobody takes the pulse of the market before hand. Experience is what makes us to be first in line to buy things we don’t necessarily need.
At the US-Africa Leaders Summit, John Kerry said “Business is not just business for the sake of business. It is for providing the foundation for people to be able to live their lives with opportunity, dignity, and respect.” Until Africans shift their mentality toward: quality, competitiveness and a unique positioning of their products and services; unless they align with the same standards of sophistication and consumption as seen abroad, the billions invested will be useless. China, for years, has brought more money on the table. Most of it went down the drain.