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Brief Published: 25 Mar 2015

African Consumer Attitudes

There is no single "African consumer"

Brands looking to enter the African market should target eight key consumer archetypes rather than a single "African consumer", according to new research from South African consultancy Yellowwood.

The African Attitudes study, released earlier this month, says that on a broad level, there are "two key axes" that determine the attitude of an African consumer. The first is the person's relationship to change – whether they embrace new opportunities or seek stability and security – and the second is the attention they pay to both themselves and their community.

Within these two variables, the study identified eight consumer archetypes prominent in all African markets: Go-Getters, Inventors, Bosses, Survivors, Traditionalists, Caregivers, Mentors and Optimists.

Each archetype has different attitudes towards foreign brands. For example, Traditionalists are sceptical of Western influences, but will engage with brands that respect their culture and offer clear benefits to their lifestyle, while Optimists will connect with brands that give them a reason to smile.

"Very few brands are yet able to get under the skin of consumers in most African markets, relying as they do on superficial insight or irrelevant solutions from other parts of the world," the firm says in its report.

The study also points out that offering help and advice on topics such as nutrition or healthcare can embed brand loyalty into the fabric of a community. It highlights South African-based retailer Shoprite as a brand that successfully builds social kudos by working with local farmers and brands.

Africa is rising up the cultural agenda around the world, influencing everything from food to fashion. Discover more in Afropunk: Style Tribe and Africa's New Culinary Influence.