Brewing brands to be Africa fit
Africa’s population is young and growing and the continent is being touted as the next big growth market for alcoholic beverages. But big brands hoping to tap into this growth must take a step back to make sure their messaging isn’t being lost in the wake of Africa’s cultural revolution, says Dylan Kruger, Strategy Partner at M&C Saatchi Abel, part of the M&C Saatchi Group South Africa.
Africa is home to 16% of the world’s population yet only consumes 5% of the world’s beverage alcohol. In fact, out of the 10 Countries with the Lowest Alcohol Consumption in 2019, four of them were African. This low per capita consumption rate translates into considerable potential for brewers looking to invest into an uncharted market. There is good reason to be optimistic: sub-Saharan Africa’s population is growing at 2,8% a year - twice as fast as South Asia (1,2%) and Latin America (0,9%) - and according to alcohol consumption forecasts, the region’s alcoholic drinks market will grow by 15% over the next two years. The expansion in beer production alone is predicted to help fuel a 12% rise in beer volumes by 2023.
What’s on tap?
The continent – said to hold untapped market potential – is undergoing a significant shift propelled by economic and logistical advancements, and the potential within the broader region to reach a huge population base – more to buy means more to sell. This has led to most industry players placing greater emphasis on the continent, investing in breweries and increased production capacity to ensure the supply is able to meet the demand.
Yet despite this exponential sector growth, the marketing environment remains poorly understood and holds a reputation for complexity. So what does this mean for brands looking to increase their continental footprint?
A quick glance at the latest Google Arts and Culture Report for Africa shows that Africa is undergoing “an authentic cultural revolution”. Both millennials and Gen-Zs are claiming their own African voice, identity and style, leading to rich breakthroughs in technology, creativity and cultural viewpoints. Most importantly, we’re witnessing the rise of a strong youth voice that challenges tradition in a way that remains respectful, transformative and optimistic. Africa is having its moment in the sun – something both socially significant and strategically valuable to those willing to pay attention. In an environment where cultural and creative revolutions are sweeping through literature, the arts, film, video games and fashion design, advertising must likewise take up “arms” if it is to remain relevant.
Harnessing the insights behind the data
Marketing must first understand, and then harness and shape cultural insights to an audience that is increasingly digitally savvy and looking for relevant and authentic conversations. What works for a global brand on Western continents won’t cut it in Africa if brands want to engage and retain the African consumer meaningfully. Practically, this means getting on the ground and speaking to people. It means taking the time to learn deep-rooted cultural truths and ways of seeing the world that resonate with audiences – this goes as deep as understanding the unique nuances between towns that are situated from as little as 200kms apart.