Market Research Predictions for Africa in 2017

At the dawn of a new year, we take this moment to pause and reflect on what characterized the year 2016. Indeed it was another busy year in Africa as a whole and in the field of market research in particular.

Marketers continue to be challenged by the lack of reliable local market data; market research methodologies using mobile though increasingly popular, are showing their limits. There is a growing sense that most data collection technologies are pushed rather than built around the African context. One striking example is the assumption built in most mobile or internet based foreign data collection platforms that one device = one unique individual. In a continent where most people have more than one phone and few people can afford both a PC and personal internet connection, that assumption is not valid or will fail in most cases. As a result, the performance of these platforms is vastly overstated, causing frustrating experiences for all parties involved. This is a good example of technologies that are pushed to Africa without context and local insights. Yes, even in the field of market research!

Last year, we highlighted some of the trends for 2016: Improvement in the data collection infrastructure, the rise of multi-channel data collection, more stories were told using data and of course more people claimed the expert status when it came to Africa.

If 2016 was the year where we started a different kind of conversation around data; moving from “data for development” to what we call “data for prosperity”, we predict 2017 will be the year where we start to see the entrepreneurs and organizations unlocking the value of data to turn challenges into opportunities.

Here are some of our predictions for 2017:

1.New and relevant research methodologies for Africa – Market research is about identifying the real problem in order to come up with the right solution. Data collection is an important part of market research. Mobile and F2F still dominate the data collection landscape in Africa. Each methodology provides pros and cons when it comes to reaching a valuable target and providing the kind of insights required to make an informed decision. Mobile research providers are mostly foreign companies that lack the local context required to adapt their technologies. We expect new players to enter the market with better innovations that are actually leveraging the local ecosystem to deliver results. This is all good news for marketers in general as their consumer insight toolbox will improve thanks to the availability of data and local insights.

2. Increased availability of local market data – Leaders and organizations looking to provide innovative and relevant products to the massive consumer market that's Africa, will have more data at their disposal to make better and faster decisions. For example, Africa has several consumer confidence reports now that are produced periodically in all the major markets. Last June, we launched the KIC Score, Africa's first monthly consumer confidence index tracking consumer expectations, spending habits in six major urban centers in Africa. The leaders who will succeed in 2017 are the ones who will include these metrics in their planning and strategy.

3. It's not about technology, it's about people – The narrative around Africa in 2016 was dominated by technology in every industry – Mark Zuckerberg visit to Africa received more media coverage than Dangote expansion in Africa or the fact that his company is hiring way more people than most tech companies in Africa. Those who will resist the tendency to think technology can solve all Africa challenges will thrive. Customers are at the heart of every business – getting to know them and their context will allow marketers and product managers to build relevant products, beat the competition and take market leadership. For every customer problem in Africa, technology is merely one-third of the solution. Market research will help young entrepreneurs identify the right problem or pain points before building a solution for it.

4. Made by Africans for Africans – In the latest McKinsey report: Lions on the move II, it was revealed that Africa has 400 companies that are making US $1B in annual revenue. Very few of these companies are tech companies – rather these are regional companies solving fundamental problems in Africa: the need for infrastructure, the need to communicate, the need to eat, the need to access financial services, the need for efficient food supply, the need for energy. We believe that 2017 will also be the year for the growth of the “made in Africa” products on the African markets. This trend should be welcomed news for African governments that faced revenue squeeze as a result of declining oil prices in recent years. Building an African value chain of locally thought, made products and services is an exciting trend that we will monitor in 2017. Don't worry about the size of the middle class, no one cares as long as you can deliver value and meet your customers.

It has been a busy year for KASI as well,

  • We reached 2.5 million data points collected from 20 countries in Africa

  • We helped the new generation of global climate change leaders, diaspora entrepreneurs and local operators who understand that solving Africa's problems start with finding and understanding the right pain points

  • We told the stories of the millions of consumers we've surveyed from what types of apps they really want to their struggle with energy challenges in their daily life

  • Our efforts to challenge leaders especially in the continent’s tech industry to think beyond tech and focus on delivering value, have been recognized by the prestigious award received from the Marketing and social research association (MSRA)

About KASI Insight

KASI Insight is Africa's most innovative research and advisory firm. We solve problems that present challenges for most firms doing business in Africa - lack of fresh local market data and the need for contextual insight and innovative research methods. We provide market research, actionable insights and data driven advice from over 10 countries in Africa.

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