Cobus van Zyl, Chief Operations Officer at Aggrey & Clifford, participated in a panel discussion about marketing in emerging markets at the Indie Summit 2017 in London. Cobus presented Africa, and one of the key points that he made during his discussion was that a one-size-fits-all approach to advertising no longer works (if it ever did).

Cobus quoted Fairfax Cone who says: “Good advertising is always written from one person to another. When aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone.” Unfortunately, a lot of marketing in Africa still takes place this way. The same message, aimed at a billion people, is expected to have an impact. While many brands aim to “localise” a global campaign so that it is comprehensible on a primary level, it rarely resonates with everyone. Cobus says that they often see different responses to global campaigns in various regions of the same country.

One interesting example given was beer advertising commercials that are full of “cold ice” visuals. Consumers in Tanzania don’t drink cold beer (bar owners keep beer at room temperature) because there is a heritage of homemade beer in this African country.

“When it comes to homebrew, there is a direct correlation between the beer’s temperature and its potency. In other words, there is still a belief that warm beer gives a bigger “kick” than cold beer. Unreliable power also means fridges are off for extended periods, resulting in beer usually being warm anyway. It’s something consumers are used to. So simply rolling out more campaigns showing ice cold beer is not going to grow your brand in Tanzania,” says Cobus.

To get advertising right in Africa, brands need to take an outside in approach to determine what the consumer really wants. A consumer’s reason for buying a product will be different in different regions. Brands also need to localise even further and think in terms of regions, provinces and tribes rather than countries.

“I found Cobus’ insights very intriguing, especially when considering how this can apply to the flooring sector. Brands need to consider how different regions, provinces and communities use their products and how these needs can differ within South Africa as well as our neighbouring countries. Speaking to the needs of consumers in a way that truly connects with them is key,” says Roxanne Mancini, Editor of FLOORS in Africa magazine.

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