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Strategies for targeting the African middle class

When targeting the middle class consumer in sub-Saharan Africa, marketers need to be aware of a number of key strategies, the ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’ reports in its latest issue.
Quoting the results of the African Lions study conducted by research company Ipsos and the Unilever Institute of the University of Cape Town, the magazine says the following are some of the approaches that marketers should follow:

Speak the Language:
African Lions believe that brands have to adapt to the local environment, and speaking the language of consumers is the first step. It is also intrinsically linked to their cultural identity and pride. The multiple languages of Africa add a complex layer when marketing to this group; but getting it right is absolutely crucial to brand acceptance.

Power of Optimism:
African Lions have a deep sense of resilience and of self, despite often trying circumstances. They are rooted in their religion, culture and community and almost universally convinced life will improve in the future. Aspirations range from average to the fantastical. Financial constraints are real, though, and the market for premium or luxury products may be proportionally smaller than richer countries. Besides the positioning implications, the optimism that is inherent to most middle class consumers can infuse advertising campaigns with an authentic African spirit.

Image is everything:
Looking good is fundamental to African Lions of both genders and across the three segments, since every encounter is an opportunity to make a sale or a useful connection. The majority visit a hairdresser at least once a month, and hair expenses are often disproportionate to the amounts spent on other grooming needs. An individual’s online presence is often carefully curated too.

Education is the key to success:
African Lions agree that education is a key enabler to success in life (although not a guarantee). Some want professional degrees such as law or engineering, and others look to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills in the never-ending hustle of their lives.